Very, very late last night, just before midnight, the Bush administration submitted a filing in CREW v. Executive Office of the President, our lawsuit challenging the failure of the White House to preserve and restore millions of missing emails. We first documented the massive loss of White House e-mails in our April 2007 report, WITHOUT A TRACE: The Missing White House Emails and the Violations of the Presidential Records Act.
The latest filing from the Bush administration raises some very troubling questions that the White House clearly does not want to answer. (The filing from the White House and related documents can be found here.) This is how CREW's chief counsel, Anne Weismann, described the situation:
With this new filing, the White House has admitted that although it has long known about the missing emails, it did nothing to recover them, or discover how and why they went missing in the first place. The missing emails are important historical records that belong not to the Bush administration, but to the American people. As a result, the public deserves a full accounting and hopefully, now that the matter is before a federal court, we will get one.
The White House has now admitted that it does not have an effective system for storing and preserving emails. This is no mere technicality; it is this failure that led to the likely destruction of over 10 million email. What the White House has not explained is why it abandoned the electronic record-keeping system used by the prior administration -- a system that properly preserved White House email -- but did not replace it with another effective and appropriate system.
Anyone surprised that the time period for this ridiculous excuse of archiving was March 2003 to October 2003. Hmm....what could have been going on at that time? Oh, silly little things like initial invasion and occupation of Iraq, not to mention the leaking of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. Patrick Fitzgerald's inability to continue his investigation past Scooter Libby's obstruction and perjury charges suddenly seems far less confusing. Government Exec has more...