In a bid to live up to its claims of transparency, the Obama administration has decided to open up access to White House visitor logs after reaching a deal with a watchdog organization that was suing to see them, FOX News confirmed Friday.
The public will now be able to access lists of visitors through the White House Web site, including all the names and times of people who have visited the West Wing. Each month, the list will be updated with records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days.
"For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis," President Obama said in a statement. "We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process."
Exceptions are granted to personal visitors seeing members of the first family and for national security reasons or confidential meetings with candidates for high-level appointments, like the Supreme Court.
The White House began offering its list on Friday. (Click here for access to the visitor logs.)
It's a victory for the ethics group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which had four cases pending against the administration.
"The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to keep secret the identities of those who visited the White House," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a written statement.
"In contrast, the Obama administration -- by putting visitor records on the White House Web site -- will have the most open White House in history," she said.
According to CREW, it and the White House reached the agreement on Thursday.
The deal paves the way for CREW to drop its lawsuits against the administration -- which were first filed right after the inauguration and have continued through the first seven months of President Obama's term. CREW has agreed to dismiss all pending litigation against the White House.
The settlement reached Thursday also allows the government to turn over Bush era records, according to CREW. CREW fought the Bush administration vigorously on access to the records, seeking Freedom of Information Act requests and appealing denials through the court system.
The Bush administration argued the visitor logs were part of presidential records, not Secret Service records, and therefore exempt from FOIA requests.
After Obama took office in January, CREW requested visitor records to the White House of health care and coal executives. Both those requests were initially denied.