Another 'stroke of the pen'
Wed, 15 Dec 1999 09:04:49 -0500

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Just wondering if anyone here had heard anything about this. The
rights of individuals have erroded dramatically in the last 7 years under
Clinton, and
I find it shocking that he can continue to get away with this, without a
peep from the

Another 'stroke of the pen'
Joseph Farah

President Clinton, already under fire for political abuse
of FBI and Internal Revenue Service files, has quietly
issued an executive order that could give him access to
even more sensitive documents for the remainder of his

The new executive order, like others issued by the
Clinton administration, seems, at first glance, innocuous.
It is an amendment to Executive Order 12958 regarding
classified security information and was signed by the
president Nov. 19.

It establishes a new bureaucracy, the Information
Security Oversight Office, within the National Archives
and Records Administration. But this doesn't appear to
be just another jobs program for Clinton pals at your
expense. Rather, this EO raises grave privacy issues.

In Section 3, Clinton establishes a directorship for the
new office, under the direction of the national archivist.
The director is to work with the assistant to the
president for national security affairs and the
co-chairmen of the security policy board.

Most people have no idea who the national archivist is.
His name is John W. Carlin, the former governor of
Kansas, who got the very political appointment in 1995
over the objections of some historians and researchers
who believed the job should go to a professional with
some qualifications in the area. In fact, 16 organizations,
including the National Coordinating Committee for the
Promotion of History, opposed Carlin's nomination --
something of a surprise. I don't remember hearing a
word about this tempest in a teapot. His nomination was
approved without debate or roll call in the Senate as
part of a consent motion that included seven other
presidential nominees.

Now, it turns out, Carlin and Sandy Berger will hold in
their hands the ability, on behalf of the president, to get
federal files -- even classified documents -- on just
about anybody for any reason.

That's right. That seems to be the essence of this new
executive order.

Section 4 of the order creates an Information Security
Oversight Office within the national Archives and
Records Administration. Carlin, or the archivist,
appoints the director, subject to the approval of the

The director of this new department has the authority to
require of each agency: "Those reports, information, and
other cooperation that may be necessary to fulfill its
responsibilities. If granting access to specific categories
of classified information would pose an exceptional
national security risk, the affected agency head or the
senior agency official shall submit a written justification
recommending the denial of access to the President
through the Assistant to the President for National
Security Affairs within 60 days of the request for
access. Access shall be denied pending the response."

Do you really imagine agency heads, all of whom are
appointed by the president, are going to deny access of
anything to their boss?

As I read this EO, we now have a director of a new
agency, working hand-in-glove with Sandy Berger, who
will be able to snoop through any and all agency records
and documents at the whim of the president.

Clinton has a history of using executive orders to
subvert and ignore the will of Congress. His top aide,
Paul Begala, boasted in 1997 of this strategy with his
now-famous line: "Stroke of the pen, law of the land.
Kinda cool." So far, no one in Congress has raised a
peep about this latest executive order. Not surprising
since there is no mechanism in place in the legislative
branch to oversee and systematically review executive

By the way, one of the most noxious of all Clinton
executive orders, 13083, was issued while he was in
Birmingham, England, in 1997. Only a barrage of
attacks on that redefinition of federalism sparked by a
series of WorldNetDaily stories, forced its suspension.
This little stinker was issued while Clinton was visiting Greece, a trip
marred by people throwing stones at him.
You have to wonder what was so important about
rushing this one through? Maybe now we know. And
maybe, given recent history, there's a chance to kill this
declaration of open season on privacy by the White

A daily radio broadcast adaptation of Joseph
Farah's commentaries can be heard at

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=A9 1999, Inc.