National Archivist Allen Weinstein, who has Parkinson’s disease, has submitted his resignation effective Dec. 19, citing health reasons. Weinstein’s 2005 appointment by President Bush sparked controversy, especially over concerns that he would be an independent archivist. There were allegations that President Bush sacked his predecessor for political reasons.
While the archivist is keeper of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, he also is charged with making sure that highly sensitive presidential papers are open and available to the public.
In that regard, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, Weinstein “always rose to the challenge.” When his group found the CIA trying to reclassify open public documents, he said, “Allen put a stop to it. When we caught the Nixon library pulling the plug at the last minute on a conference” because they didn’t want Nixon critics to attend, “Allen used it as leverage to get the Nixon library to agree to restore” numerous records Nixon had gotten the courts to remove from public access.
On the other hand, Blanton felt Weinstein didn’t change the Archives’ “inferiority complex and use its leverage by law” to block the current administration from dropping its archiving system of e-mails.”
Deputy Archivist Adrienne Thomas will serve as acting archivist until a successor is named and approved by the Senate, most likely next year.