SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 31
April 16, 2002

BUSH ORDER ON PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS CHALLENGED

In a frontal challenge to one of the Bush Administration's more controversial information policies, legislation was introduced in Congress last week that would nullify President Bush's executive order 13233, which imposed new restrictions on public access to presidential records from past administrations.

The November 1 Bush executive order represented "an extremely expansive view of the scope of executive privilege," said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-CA), who introduced the new bill along with 22 cosponsors. Among other novel claims, the order asserted that executive privilege could be inherited by the estate of a deceased president.

For this and other reasons, Rep. Horn said, the Bush order "violates the letter and spirit of the Presidential Records Act," the 1978 law that governs the disposition of presidential records.

The new bill, dubbed "The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2002" (HR 4187), is posted here:

Rep. Horn's introductory statement is posted here:

Testimony from a hearing entitled "The Importance of Access to Presidential Records: The Views of Historians," held before the House Government Reform Committee on April 11, is posted here:


INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON ARMS TRANSPARENCY

The Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions has now been signed by 20 members of the Organization of American States, "including all major hemispheric conventional weapons importers and exporters," according to a U.S. State Department Fact Sheet issued on April 9.

The Convention requires each party to report annually on imports and exports of conventional weapons, and to report on acquisitions of such weapons, whether through import or manufacture.

"The Convention establishes a new transparency norm that will foster greater dialogue and understanding about major conventional weapons acquisitions," according to the State Department.

The Convention is "a good first step in promoting regional confidence-building," said Tamar Gabelnick of the Federation of American Scientists Arms Sales Monitoring Project. She noted, however, that important categories of weapons such as small arms are not covered by the Convention.

The April 9 State Department Fact Sheet on "Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions" is posted here:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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