Fred Lucas | Staff Writer | Monday, February 04, 2008
The Clinton library first began accepting FOIA requests on Jan. 20, 2006. Five days later, it received eight requests from USA Today reporter Susan Page. Page told Cybercast News Service Monday that so far the Clinton library has not provided her with any documents in response to any of her requests.
On Feb. 23, more than four weeks after it received the requests from USA Today, the Clinton library received more than 50 FOIA requests from Grant Cameron, who runs PresidentialUFO.com. Cameron's biography says he is "working on a detailed paper detailing the '64 Reasons the Government is Covering Up the ET Presence.'"
Cameron's Web site boasts that he has made about 100 requests to the Clinton library and that so far the library has provided him with responses to 12 of those requests.
The receipt dates for USA Today's and Cameron's FOIA requests are recorded in a chronological log of FOIA requests to the Clinton library provided to Cybercast News Service by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Under the Presidential Records Act, the records in the Clinton library are open to the public, subject to certain exemptions for national security and privacy concerns.
Politicians, public interest groups and the media have been complaining, however, about the Little Rock, Ark.-based Clinton library's lack of progress in making records available.
The library opened in 2004, and the records became subject to the Freedom of Information Act in January 2006. Currently, the National Archives has processed just 30 requests of the more than 300 made.
All FOIA requests are handled on a first-come-first serve basis, National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper told Cybercast News Service last month. The Clinton library has just six people working on more than 10 million pages of documents.
"Who is to say what is the most important? We don't feel we can make that kind of judgment," Cooper said last year.
In an interview with Cybercast News Service Monday, however, Cooper qualified her prior assertion. "It is first come first serve," she said. "However ... we set up different queues for FOIA requests. The queues can consist of, but are not limited to, the classified queue, the complex queue, the simple queue, the multiple-request queue, among others, the audio visual queue.
"So just because something is the 300th request that is received, it doesn't mean it's going to be processed as number 300," Cooper said. "It might go into a queue, which is a shorter queue than some of the others so that an archivist might get to that request sooner than they would if we only had one queue."
Nicholas Cull, a professor of public diplomacy at the University of Southern California, filed the first group of FOIA requests on Jan. 20, 2006.
"At the (George H.W.) Bush library, I had records in three months," Cull told Cybercast News Service. "With the Clinton library, it's been well over a year since I submitted my request in 2006 - about a year and a half really."
Cull, researching for two book projects on U.S. diplomacy and the United States Information Agency, wanted to make it clear that he did not blame the librarians whom he said were very apologetic for the delays.
He blames the delays on stricter regulations imposed on the release of presidential documents by the Bush administration. So far, he says, he has gotten about half the material he requested.
Cull said that he does not anticipate that any of the information he is seeking would be negative to Sen. Clinton.
That may not be the case, however, with other record requests made to the library in January and February 2006. (So far, the library has not responded to any FOIA request received after February 2006.)
The chronological log provided to Cybercast News Service shows that in January and February 2006, several news organizations, including USA Today and the Associated Press, requested documents from the Clinton library.
Page is listed on the log for eight separate FOIA requests received by the library on Jan. 25, 2006.
Page's requests involved White House discussion of Mrs. Clinton's potential 2000 Senate bid, the Clinton administration's discussion of Osama bin Laden as a potential threat, the development of a new policy on gays in the military, White House communications about the 1993 health care task force, records related to President Clinton's appointment of first lady Hillary Clinton to lead that task force, records relating to President Clinton's pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, discussion of Vice President Al Gore's 2000 campaign, and the White House's involvement in the 2000 Florida recount.
"It is accurate that on behalf of USA Today I filed Freedom of Information requests with the Clinton library and that I haven't received any documents from those requests to date," Page told Cybercast News Service.
A page on the Clinton library Web site lists those FOIA requests to which the library has already responded. Page's requests are not listed there. Nor are the seven requests the library received on Feb. 4, 2006, from Andrew DeMillo, an Associated Press reporter based in Arkansas.
DeMillo filed requests seeking documents regarding Gen. Wesley Clark, the Oklahoma City bombing, the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Monica Lewinsky, the Whitewater scandal, current Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, and former Arkansas Gov. and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
DeMillo told Cybercast News Service on Monday he was uncertain if he should answer any questions on potential stories he is working on.
However, the Clinton library has completed a request for photographs of President Clinton's 53rd birthday party that it received on Feb. 13, 2006 - nine days after it received DeMillo's requests.
The archivists at the library seemed most generous with Grant Cameron of PresidentialUFO.com.
On Feb. 23, 2006, he made 59 separate requests - many of them repetitive - regarding UFOs, aliens, the TV series "X-Files" and other matters.
The library released records to Cameron showing that Camp David received the Sci-Fi Channel; information in the Clinton White House about the controversy of Roswell, N.M., in 1947; a photo of President Clinton and former Central Intelligence Director James Woolsey; a response to his questions on flying saucers; and an audio recording of an interview Bill Clinton had with former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.
Cameron could not be reached for comment Friday or Monday for this story, but his Web site says, "At present Cameron is awaiting almost 100 FOIA requests from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, related to the UFO related actions and policies inside the two presidential terms of Bill Clinton. So far 12 UFO related requests have been released."
Neither Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign office, nor her Senate office would respond to questions on the matter Friday or Monday as to why documents apparently related to Clinton controversies of the 1990s were not released.
"I suspect it's just not very difficult to clear those documents," Cull said of the UFO-related documents requested by Cameron.
Nearly 2 million pages of documents about Sen. Clinton's time as first lady are in the custody of archivists who don't anticipate that they will release them until after the 2008 presidential race, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Newsweek has reported that former President Clinton instructed the National Archives to tightly control the disclosure of communications directly between him and his wife.
The Clinton White House records are also the subject of a lawsuit filed against the National Archives by the conservative public interest group Judicial Watch, which is seeking access to Mrs. Clinton's daily schedules and calendars from the White House years.
Judicial Watch announced Friday that the Department of Justice confirmed the National Archives is on schedule to process about 10,000 pages of the New York senator's daily schedules from her time as first lady. The archives have authority to release the documents within 30 days after notifying former President Clinton.
In an interview with C-SPAN late last year, the former president said, "The public has to know they're not my records. They belong to and are under the jurisdiction of the archives."
No one has an interest in blocking the release of these documents unless the former president asks them to, said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
"Bill and Hillary Clinton do not need to review these schedules unless they seek to hide something embarrassing," Fitton said in a statement.
"Bill Clinton has publicly stated his desire to have all of Hillary's records released as soon as possible, and he blamed the National Archives for the delays. Now the ball is in his court. All Bill Clinton has to do is say the word and Hillary's schedules will be released to the American people immediately. The clock is ticking," he added.
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