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White House to Release Visitor Logs

The White House has announced it's giving in to lawsuits and will agree to release the names of White House visitors.

Secret Service lists of White House visitors will be made public three to four months after the fact. There are some exceptions including national security or other confidential visitors such as prospective Supreme Court nominees. Personal friends of the First Family will also be excluded.

The action reverses Obama White House policy which initially continued the Bush White House opposition to release of visitor logs.

Under the new system, names of visitors and the White House officials they were meeting with will be made public. The new policy begins with visitors on Sept. 15, 2009, and the first lists will be made public around the end of the year.

"Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard," President Obama said in a statement from the White House.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sued both administrations to gain access to the records, hailed the agreement in a statement.

"The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise," said Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "The Obama administration… will have the most open White House in history." (CREW has the full policy posted as a PDF here.)

The White House first gave the story to USA Today.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here:
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