This case seems to be a never-ending source of entertainment.
The White House has three days to explain why it shouldn’t be required to copy its computer hard drives to ensure no further e-mails are lost, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.
Already, e-mails between March and October 2003 appear to have been lost, Judge John M. Facciola noted, because they were improperly archived and no backup copies exist. That period includes the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
E-mails by White House staff are considered part of the nation’s historical record, and federal law requires they be preserved. The White House has admitted that potentially millions of e-mails from the past eight years have been erased, although it has provided conflicting accounts on how many may still exist on backup tapes.
The order, issued Tuesday morning by a federal magistrate judge in Washington, D.C., comes in a case brought against the Bush administration by the National Security Archive, a nonpartisan group affiliated with George Washington University.
The National Security Archive apparently proposed, initially, that the White House be forced to quarantine every computer workstation it had to protect the data before staffers could “accidentally” delete more correspondence. The judge wouldn’t go for that, calling it “draconian.”
Instead, Facciola wants the White House to make a “forensic copy” of all preservable data on every computer that could have been used by an employee between 2003 and 2005 — and gave the Bush gang until Friday to explain why that isn’t a good idea.