You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.


  • White House intruder identified as Army veteran
    The man accused of getting inside the White House after scaling a fence is a veteran who was awarded a medal for his service in Iraq and retired due to disability, the Army said Sunday.
  • Large freighter runs aground, gets stuck in Duluth
    The largest freighter on the Great Lakes was stuck for about three hours after it ran aground near Bayfront Park in Duluth.  WDIO-TV reports the 1,000-foot Paul R.
  • Security breach prompts more White House security
    The Secret Service tightened security outside the White House after an embarrassing breach in which a man with a knife scaled a fence, ran across the lawn and made it all the way inside before agents stopped him.

Secret service told to release some White House records

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secret Service records of visitors to the White House, except those pertaining to people visiting the president's office, must be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal appeals court ruled.

Congress didn't want to impinge on executive branch authority by requiring disclosure of people who meet with the president in his office, Circuit Judge Merrick Garland wrote for a three-judge panel in Washington.

"In order to avoid substantial separation of powers questions, we conclude that Congress did not intend to authorize FOIA requesters to obtain indirectly from the Secret Service information that it had expressly barred requesters from obtaining directly from the president," Garland wrote.

Records of visitors to most of the White House complex are agency records subject to FOIA, the court ruled. The court could have used disclosure exemptions in FOIA to protect the confidentiality of the most sensitive presidential meetings, instead of putting them completely out of reach of the open records law, said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, the Washington-based legal activist group that filed the suit leading to today's ruling.

"A president who doesn't want this information available is a president that doesn't want to be held accountable," Fitton said in a phone interview. "We're considering an appeal."

Brian Leary, a spokesman for the Secret Service, didn't immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment on the ruling.

Judicial Watch's suit sought the names of people who visited the White House during the first seven months of President Barack Obama's first term.

Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, is among a dozen media companies and organizations that filed a legal brief supporting Judicial Watch's position.

In August 2011, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, ordered the agency to process the group's data request.

The appeals panel decision narrows the pool of people subject to disclosure to those who visited a part of the White House other than the Office of the President.

Former President George W. Bush also fought to keep such visitor records private. Obama said Sept. 4, 2009, that his administration would begin releasing the visitor logs after being sued by at least one watchdog group for details on whom government officials were meeting with.

As many as 100,000 people visit the White House every month, including tour groups. The administration said it intends to release all names except in cases involving national security or when the visit is confidential, such as a presidential interview with a potential Supreme Court nominee.

Fitton said there's no way to check the administration's fidelity to its disclosure pledge except through FOIA requests.

Judicial Watch describes itself as "a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation (that) promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. "