By JOSH GERSTEINUnder fire for its sluggish processing of files from President Clinton's White House, the National Archives released files and photographs today responding to 14 Freedom of Information Act requests from members of the public.
The New York Sun
The New York Sun
The records appear unlikely to contain any political bombshells, though there could be fodder for the tabloids. Many of the requests sought information about the Clinton White House's records on unidentified flying objects or UFOs.
The files detail the predilection of one of Mr. Clinton's chiefs of staff, John Podesta, for the extraterrestrial-laden television series, "the X-Files."
In a recent court filing, the Clinton Library's acting director, Emily Robison, said it had 287 pending requests for information from the Clinton Library's archives. The requests seek a total of about 10.5 million pages of records.
So far, the library has released records in response to just 18 Freedom of Information Act requests, according to the library's Web site.
At a debate for Democratic presidential candidates last week, one of the moderators, Timothy Russert of NBC News, questioned Senator Clinton about her husband's decision to ask the library to consider withholding certain records about Mrs. Clinton, as well as other files.
Mr. Clinton later called the questions "breathtakingly misleading." He noted that the request, written in a letter to the archives, dated from 2002, long before Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid. He also said that the thrust of the request was to speed up release of some records.
One of the former president's aides, Bruce Lindsey, said in a statement last week that Mr. Clinton had not blocked any record from being released.
The bulk of the delays in responding to the public requests, which often focus on substantive issues like Mrs. Clinton's Health Care Task Force, seems to stem from thin staffing at the library, which is run by the National Archives. Only six staffers conduct the page-by-page review required to weed out classified and private information, as well as information a former president is entitled to withhold for 12 years after leaving office.
Asked by e-mail about the newly-disclosed files and any possible impact on Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid, Mr. Podesta repeated an "X-files" catchphrase, "The truth is out there." He declined further comment.