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Obama limits ex-presidents' discretion on records

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President Barack Obama issued an executive order Wednesday that limits the ability of former presidents to block the release of sensitive records of their time in the White House. Obama's action in his first full day in office overturned an earlier order issued by George W. Bush that prompted a federal lawsuit.

Obama said former presidents may ask to have certain documents kept private, but they no longer may compel the National Archives to do so. Obama's executive order also makes clear that neither former vice presidents nor relatives of former presidents who have died have authority to keep records private.

Bush's executive order was issued in November 2001. A federal judge ruled parts of it invalid in 2007. Obama's order revoked it entirely.


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