Obama – Executive Order on Presidential Records

Well it is great to see some rational decision making coming out of the Whitehouse these days. Today I note Obama’s Executive Order on Presidential Records has been added to the Whitehouse website.

Hopefully this will help fulfill one of the many things on Michel-Adrien’s Wish List!

Here’s a snippet:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish policies and procedures governing the assertion of executive privilege by incumbent and former Presidents in connection with the release of Presidential records by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) pursuant to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, it is hereby ordered as follows…”

By the way, Obama’s Executive Order – Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel has also been posted.

Happy New Year!


  1. I suppose it adds to the apparent legitimacy of the action for it to be expressed in such archaic legalese (“gee, I guess he’s really the President, he’s sounding like the other Presidents”), but as a matter of pure (?) style, if you start “by the authority vested in me…” should you not continue “I order that…”, rather than “it is hereby ordered” (not even “by me”)?

    Is there any legal point to the recital of the authority, especially when it is so general? Or is it just bluff and bluster while people start paying attention, or to make them pay attention by mentioning such important stuff as the Constitution and the laws of the USA?

  2. It’s funny how records management has surged into prominence in the past few weeks – first, with the concern that NARA and/or Library of Congress would not have the capacity to store the volume of electronic records (mostly e-mail) generated by the Bush administration, then the sudden disappearance/reappearance of 15 million records related to the Katrina response and the war in Iraq.
    For all its bluster, it is nice to see the Obama administration thinking about this issue in advance, rather than bumbling around afterward.

  3. For those of us who are not lawyers or constitutional scholars, what does this Executive Order ACTUALLY DO?

    I’ve tried reading it, but I fall asleep at about the second paragraph.