The sealed records issue....
As mentioned, most governors seal them at the end of their service. Last Sunday, Dean said on Fox that he will let a judge decide what records to keep sealed and what to unseal.http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,105081,00.html
WALLACE: Let's move on to this question of giving information out. Why have you sealed, for 10 years, about half of your records as governor of Vermont?
DEAN: Well, we gave 60 percent of them out to the public, which is fine. Vermont, like many other states, has a doctrine of protecting people who advise you for a period of time. We took advantage of that doctrine because that's the law, that's the way it's been done.
And, you know, there is not much interesting stuff except for advice that people gave me, which they thought was going to be confidential, and probably some private papers. What we're trying to do is figure out how to get a third party to review those records so that we can make some of those records public.
WALLACE: I want to take you through this because -- and I know that you're somewhat frustrated that people keep asking about it. But just as you talked about President Bush, people are concerned when public officials decide not to make records public.
In January, you gave Vermont Public Radio a very different reason. Here is what you said: "There are future political considerations. We didn't want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time in any future endeavors."
Governor, was it politics?
DEAN: If you actually listen to the tape, which CNN played this week, you will find that I was laughing about that and teasing the press about it.
No, it's not politics. Every governor has done this. Some governors have sealed their records for their lifetime. Some governors take the records with them, they're not the property of the...
WALLACE: But, in fact, the previous governors of Vermont had only sealed them for six years. You wanted to do it for 24, and they finally made an agreement on 10.
DEAN: That really is more of a reflection of the negotiating ferocity of my legal counsel.
Look, if the issue were -- if tomorrow this issue would disappear -- look, this is to our advantage to get this off the political screen. We do keep getting asked about it all the time. If we could say, hey, look, we'll be happy to settle for six years -- first of all, I am not sure we have the power to do that, but if we did, this issue would not go away.
WALLACE: Well, why not just open them up, Governor? I can't believe that anybody in Vermont is going to prevent you. Why not just say, they're open, reporters...
DEAN: Well, actually, it's a very complicated legal question. And what we're going to do, I suspect, is let the judge take a look at all these documents. We're being -- there is a lawsuit over this from Judicial Watch. And what we think the best thing to do is to let the judge go through every single document and decide for himself what ought to be revealed and what not to be revealed. And I think that's a fair way to do it.
Clearly our campaign can't review the documents, because nobody would believe that we weren't doing something political. So let an independent third party -- and I think the Judicial Watch suit gives us the opportunity to let a judge go through every single document.
WALLACE: But let's make it clear, Governor, Judicial Watch wants you to open the records. They're not -- is anybody asking you to keep them closed?
DEAN: Well, I think it's very clear that there are some things in there that are really not fair to reveal -- privacy concerns, people writing letters in to me that are private. I mean, everybody admits that if somebody writes a letter to me saying, you know, "Dear Governor, my wife has AIDS" or something like that, that should not be revealed.
Now, apparently some of those kinds of letters were actually in the...
WALLACE: But, Governor, the Boston Herald -- if I may, the Boston Herald this week looked at what is already open, and they found a lot of letters exactly like that that are already open, personal letters about medical conditions.
WALLACE: So it doesn't seem that that's what's being protected here.
DEAN: Well, that is, actually. Those letters shouldn't have been opened, and I think that's a reason that it is a good thing to have a judge go through all that, all those letters. We were sued once before, and the judge did go through all the papers and decide what should go out and what shouldn't. And I think that's a very good process.
So I think we'll -- the attorney general wants to defend the lawsuit. I think we'll defend the lawsuit and let the judge go through every single record and decide what should be public and what shouldn't. I think that's a fair and reasonable way to go through this.
WALLACE: Just a simple question -- I know you pride yourself on straight talk. Will you try to get those records released before the Iowa caucuses?
DEAN: The records will go through the process that I just outlined. The judge will go through every single record.
If we were to try to ram that through and get it out just to get the political writers off our back, that would be incredibly unfair to all the people who may have personal and private information in there.
Let the judge go through it. Let them pick whatever they want, and let it go free. That's what I think the right process is to go.
So we'll go forward. We'll defend the suit. We'll let the judge go through every document, like they did the last time we were sued. And the judge will decide what's fair to the public to let out and what's not fair because it's private information for individuals.
Howard Dean is good not only for America, but for the rest of the world.