Were these "standard IT issues," as a former Bush spokesman claims -- or an attempt to obstruct justice? The fact that the Bush administration's senior officials routinely used personal email accounts to avoid leaving records convinces me we'd be silly to give them the benefit of the doubt:
Top aides to President George W. Bush seemed unconcerned amid multiple warnings as early as 2002 that the White House risked losing millions of e-mails that federal law required them to preserve, according to an extensive review of records set for release Monday.
The review, conducted by the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, follows a settlement reached last December between President Obama's administration, CREW and the National Security Archive, a George Washington University research institute. The groups sued the Bush White House in 2007, alleging it violated federal law by not preserving millions of e-mails sent between 2003 and 2005.
The settlement resulted in the restoration of 94 days worth of e-mail and the release of documents detailing when the Bush White House learned of the missing e-mails and how it responded. The restored e-mails are part of the National Archives and Records Administration's historic record of the Bush administration, but presidential historians and others seeking information in the coming decades about the major decisions of Bush's presidency likely will be starved of key details, including messages sent between White House officials and drafts of final policy decisions, according to CREW.
"The net effect of this is we've probably lost some truly valuable records that would have provided insight" into the administration's decision-making process on several policy issues, said CREW Chief Counsel Anne L. Weismann, who led the review.