SAA Responds to Presidential Paper Restrictions

An excerpt from SAA President Steve Hensen\'s letter to Congress:

I write to express the grave concern of the Society of American Archivists with respect to the President’s recent Executive Order 13233 on Presidential Papers . . .

Our apprehension over this Executive Order is on several levels. First, it violates both the spirit and letter of existing U.S. law on access to presidential papers . . . This law establishes the principle that presidential records are the property of the United States government and that the management and custody of, as well as access to, such records should be governed by the Archivist of the United States and established archival principles—all within the statutory framework of the act itself. The Executive Order puts the responsibility for these decisions with the President, and indeed with any sitting President into the future. Access to the vital historical records of this nation should not be governed by executive decree; this is why the existing law was created . . .

Second, on a broader level this Executive Order potentially threatens to undermine one of the very foundations of our nation. Free and open access to information is the cornerstone to modern democratic societies around the world . . .

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