White House to Begin Releasing Visitor Names

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Going against a long-standing White House policy, President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration will begin releasing the names of White House visitors.

"Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process," Obama said in a statement.

The move is part of the president's effort to make good on a campaign pledge to create transparency in government.

"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," Obama said.

But not all visitors' names will be released. Exceptions will be made for those attending sensitive meetings - such as Supreme Court nominees - and for those whose names cannot be disclosed for national security reasons.

Other exceptions include "purely personal guests" related to the president's family or the vice president's family.

The president's decision comes after an evaluation of its disclosure policy and as a result of legal pressure from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise," said the group's executive director, Melanie Sloan.

"The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to keep secret the identities of those who visited the White House. 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.

The White House will begin releasing visitors' records Sept. 15.

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