Yesterday, in a major victory for open government and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a federal judge ruled against the Bush Administration latest attempt to keep secret the identities of White House visitors and declared the White House illegally deleted Secret Service computer records.
CREW has been trying to get access to White House records of visits made by nine conservative religious leaders. They are also interested in seeing the records of visits by Stephen Payne, a lobbyist who was filmed in a video sting operation organized by the Sunday Times of London, in which he promised to arrange meetings with officials in the Bush administration in exchange for a fee of $600,000 to $750,000, of which $200-250,000 would be given as a donation to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
At the direction of the White House, the Secret Service was deleting visitor records from the beginning of the Bush Administration until October 2004, when the deletions were discovered when open government activists attempted to get access to them.
Even though the good guys won the legal battle, the Bush Administration did succeed in dragging out the case until the very final days in office.