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Bri_L's avatar

What is your take on the preservation of presidential records?

Asked by Bri_L (12206points) September 10th, 2008

Do you feel that they are a matter of learning and understanding? Security? I could see both as a concern. I have not quite formed a complete opinion. I can imagine why the presidents from the last 3 terms would want to hide some of theirs.

thanks in advance

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10 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Well, have you seen what happened with the Nixon tapes, the Johnson tapes, and the Truman tapes? Have you seen every President prosecuted for something? Reagan for Iran-Contra; Clinton for unzipping his pants in the wrong place; and god knows what the current President will get caught doing.

We know already that he’s done a lot of things many people consider immoral, even if they are not illegal. He’s expanded presidential power enormously. He’s changed the definition of torture so the administration could torture people. If you had committed a crime, wouldn’t you want to hide the evidence? The last thing on your mind would be learning and understanding.

I wish the records could be preserved because I do think much important information will be lost, and this will cause our nation to make the same mistakes more than we otherwise would have. I think security concerns are overly hyped, and that the real concern is saving face and trying to preserve an image. They classify everything, reflexively, just to make sure they don’t miss anything embarrassing. It’s ridiculous, hurtful to the country, and it ought to stop.

Bri_L's avatar

I agree. I think when I was typing that my hesitation was in leu of security. Which would mean keeping from public but not destroying. Bush wants to destroy.

marinelife's avatar

He probably will since he has routinely flouted the law on other matters.

srmorgan's avatar

It is necessary to preserve original documents for use by historians in the future. These are the absolute primary sources and should be maintained.

The issue with the current occupant of the White House and his adminstration is their overwhelming concerns with secrecy and keeping information out of the hands of the general public. Hence, the lengthening of the time that Presidential documents are to be withheld from the public.

As to usefulness, a few years back, Michael Beschloss published a book of transcriptions of telephone conversations made by Lyndon Johnson while he was President. The technology was extremely primitive but they were able to do a pretty good job on transcribing everything.

It’s fascinating reading. Really!!!. Listening to Johnson use his powers of persuasion and the power of his office to manipulate legislators into coming into his corner on issues like the passage of the 1964 civil rights bills. A great book.

Along the same lines, but from different circumstances, is the book “Plain Speaking” which are transcribed conversations with Harry Truman that were done by Merle Miller in the mid-60’s. Good way to get some insight into Truman.
The book was not published until just after Truman’s death in ‘72 or ‘73/.


Bri_L's avatar

@ srmorgan – wow, thanks for that. That sounds like a good read.

allengreen's avatar

These records are/should be part of the public domaine. these are public servants working on public tax dollars. GIVE THE PEOPLE ACCESS TO THE PEOPLE’S DOCUMENTS. PERIOD.

scamp's avatar

I agree with allengreen

allengreen's avatar

(sound of my jaw hitting the floor) (gasps of disbelief that scamp and i agree)

Maybe the Rapture is right around the corner, since stranger thinks have just happened.

scamp's avatar

I know! I guess I should have warned the faint of heart before I posted that, right?

Bri_L's avatar

a. allangreen, your icon kicks but
b. I agree with your viewpoint.

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