George W. Bush repeatedly (and with impunity) breaks the law, and even goes against Reagan's own order about the Reagan papers!


During the Watergate Affair, President Nixon claimed that all papers relating to his presidency were his personal property. However, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 says that the Presidential Papers belong to the people of the United States and must be made public within twelves years after a President leaves office.
Sec. 2202. Ownership of Presidential records
The United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records; and such records shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
"Prior to the conclusion of his term of office or last consecutive term of office, as the case may be, the President shall specify durations, not to exceed 12 years . . ."
On January 16, 1989, President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order clarifying that either the former President or the incumbent President can only block the release of "specific" records and to do so must explicitly invoke Executive privilege.
If the President decides to invoke Executive privilege, the Counsel to the President shall notify the former President, the Archivist, and the Attorney General in writing of the claim of privilege and the specific Presidential records to which it relates. After receiving such notice, the Archivist shall not disclose the privileged records unless directed to do so by an incumbent President or by a final court order.


George W. Bush has broken the law of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 three times already, and currently has no plans to obey the law!
Reagan Papers on Hold for Now
Thursday, June 07, 2001
WASHINGTON The Bush administration is holding up release of 68,000 pages of presidential records that offer an insider's view of how decisions were made in the Reagan White House.

The confidential memos, letters and briefing papers passed among Ronald Reagan and his top advisers were to have come out in January -- 12 years after Reagan left office, as established by post-Watergate laws.

But the White House counsel's office asked the National Archives to delay the release until at least June 21 so government lawyers can look at the files that researchers and others are waiting to dig through.

White House officials say the Reagan documents are the first that would have been released under a presidential records law passed in 1978. They say care must be taken to make sure it's done right.

Historians, on the other hand, say they think President Bush is worried about what some of his top aides might have written when they worked for Reagan in the 1980s.

"I think what Bush is doing is protecting the people who were in the Reagan administration and his father's administration who are still around," said American University historian Anna Nelson. "I think this is part of that everlasting fear that somebody did something in the past that they can't remember. I think they're trying to protect their own people."

Secretary of State Colin Powell was on Reagan's national security team. Budget Director Mitchell Daniels Jr. was Reagan's political director. Chief White House economist Lawrence Lindsey was on Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. Many others, including White House chief of staff Andrew Card, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Ken Dam, nominated for the No. 2 job at Treasury, all worked for Reagan. And of course Reagan's vice president was George Herbert Walker Bush, the president's father.

"Some of these people are veterans from the Reagan administration, and they don't want the documents seen," said Vanderbilt University history professor Hugh Graham. "They don't know what's in there, so they're worried."

Anne Womack, assistant White House press secretary, denied allegations that the president is trying to protect his aides.

"We've asked for a short extension in order for the documents to undergo a legal review at the Justice Department," she said. "The extension was requested to ensure that the Presidential Records Act is implemented correctly. We are setting precedent for future administrations. It's important that we address all the relevant issues."

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 followed Watergate and former President Nixon's attempt to hold on to his papers and tape recordings. Nixon said they were personal property. The act made presidential records government property, beginning with Reagan's. The records are stored at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The law also put a 12-year hold on a category of records containing "confidential communications requesting or submitting advice between the president and his advisers, or between such advisers."

That 12 years is already up for these Reagan papers. And the documents can no longer be kept under wraps by provisions in either the Presidential Records Act or the Freedom of Information Act.

But before these kind of records are opened, the National Archives is required to give the incumbent president a heads-up. In late February, the National Archives gave Bush the required 30-day notification. At the end of the 30 days, the White House asked for an extension until June 21.

Most records received by the National Archives are more than 30 years old, but presidential records are retrieved from the White House right after a president leaves office, said Sharon Fawcett, a top presidential library official at the National Archives.

"So 12 years later, people are still in office, still active in government and playing significant roles," she said. "But it's not only the people, it's also the issues that are still ongoing concerns -- like missile defense."

It's unclear whether the documents will be released after June 21.

Nelson and others worry the Bush administration wants to find a way to keep the Reagan documents sealed, or it is looking for ways to put more restrictions on how and when presidential papers can be opened. The 12-year hold on similar papers from former President Bush's administration expires in 2005 -- the year Bush could be starting a second term.