Message to the Senate — Arms Trade Treaty

Issued December 9, 2016

The message refers to a treaty done at New York on April 2, 2013 that is being presented to the Senate for ratification. According to the message, included with it is the treaty itself, as well as a report from the Secretary of State with an article-by-article analysis of the treaty.

Neither of the referred to documents are posted on the White House website, so I will have to wait to see them in the Federal Register.

Executive Order — Amending the Order of Succession in the Department of Homeland Security

Issued December 9, 2016

A relatively brief order that appears to be an updating of the order of succession.  The original order included a listing of eight positions in the succession. This new order lists eighteen positions with a few rearranged.

Not knowing more detail, I am not sure what this might mean given the context of the incoming administration, but at the very least, this is a more clear, deeper list in case of death of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Proclamations December 9, 2016

Presidential Proclamation — Death of John Glenn

Requesting the flag be flown at half-staff the day of John Glenn’s interment.

Presidential Proclamation — Human Rights Day and Human Rights Week, 2016

The day: December 10, 2016   The week: Beginning December 10, 2016

First paragraph of the proclamation: “When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948, it set in motion a movement to secure liberty and justice for all people. Out of the ashes of the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” On Human Rights Day and during Human Rights Week, we reflect on how far we have come in upholding these universal rights and resolve to continue fighting to safeguard them wherever they are threatened.”

Executive Order — Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience

Issued December 9, 2016

This is an extensive order establishing a number of important initiatives with regard to the Bering Sea and the changing climate conditions. It refers to a previous executive order as a base upon which this is built. Among other things, the order creates a task force co-chaired by offices from three departments/agencies (Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast Guard) to implement the order.

In addition, the order establishes The Bering Intergovernmental Tribal Advisory Council as a means for effectively communicating with and honoring the traditional knowledge of the Alaskan Native tribal governments.

Issues addressed by this order include leases, pollution by ships, shipping lanes, etc.

I am pleased to see the establishment of structures that will help monitor and counteract environmental changes in the region, but more importantly that will provide official ways for communication of tribal governments.

Presidential Proclamation — National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2016

This proclamation is mostly self-explanatory, but it does cite Public Law 103-308 (approved August 23, 1994) as having designated December 7 each year National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. The law, actually a joint resolution of the House and Senate, authorizes and requests the President to issue an annual proclamation to that effect, and it also encourages all government agencies, and interested groups, organizations, and individuals to fly the flag at halfstaff for the day.

Future of the White House Website

While working on this project, I discovered that each administration is responsible for the operations and content of the White House Website. That means on January 20, 2017, all the current content will be moved to the National Archives Electronic Record Archives site and the White House site will have to be rebuilt completely.

Recently the Obama administration provided an interesting and quite helpful post on the White House site regarding what they call the Digital Transition. The current administration has many “firsts” in the digital era including establishing We the People petitions, @WhiteHouse Tweets, and thousands of hours of video footage among other things.

I am pleased to know the archives will be responsible for maintaining all these digital records as they have for the Bush era.

What I am curious about is just how effective the next administration will be in running the White House site. Will they hit the ground running or will the site be rudimentary with little substantive content, at least at the start? Will they continue to host petitions from the people? Will they even publish and allow access to the presidential actions, or will we need to wait until they appear in the Federal Register or Congressional Record?

I expect at least some time beginning January 20 will be needed to get the new site content up and running smoothly, but it remains to be seen how it will operate in the future. My hope is it will continue to be a useful site for the American people providing the necessary transparency of an open government. My speculation is it will be far less transparent and may even become simply an infomercial for the man and his brand, as opposed to the office.


Presidential Memorandum — Steps for Increased Legal and Policy Transparency Concerning the United States Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations

Signed and posted December 5,2016.

The memorandum is for the heads of executive departments and agencies. The subject is: Steps for Increased Legal and Policy Transparency Concerning the United States Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations.

I selected the following as representative of the content of the memorandum.

“Accordingly, I hereby direct as follows:

Section 1. Report. National security departments and agencies shall prepare for the President a formal report that describes key legal and policy frameworks that currently guide the United States use of military force and related national security operations, with a view toward the report being released to the public.

Sec. 2. Keeping the Public Informed. On no less than an annual basis, the National Security Council staff shall be asked to, as appropriate, coordinate a review and update of the report described in section 1 of this memorandum, provide any updated report to the President, and arrange for the report to be released to the public.”

My opinion: Anything that can be done to improve transparency of the Federal government functions is a good thing.