White House Can Keep Its Secrets - For Now

A federal judge agreed Friday to let the Bush administration keep secret the lists of visitors to the White House until an appeals court decides whether the documents are public records.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth granted the White House request five days after ordering the Secret Service to turn over the records to a liberal watchdog group that sought them under the Freedom of Information Act.

The logs being sought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington relate to White House visits regarding nine conservative religious commentators, including James Dobson, Gary Bauer and the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Visitor records are created by the Secret Service, which is subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Bush administration ordered the data be turned over to the White House, where it is treated as presidential records outside the scope of the public records law.

Lamberth ruled logs from the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's residence remain Secret Service documents and are subject to public records requests.