White House Promises to Produce Missing E-Mails

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-01-15 Print this article Print

It took a $10 million search effort and almost four years of stalling, but Bush administration officials say they will meet the demands of a court order to produce 14 million missing e-mails from 2003-2005. The missing e-mails cover the start of the Iraq war, the Valerie Plame affair and the White House response to Hurricane Katrina. Groups that sued the White House over the missing e-mails are still skeptical.

Just hours after a judge Jan. 14 ordered the White House to search the entire Executive Office of the President and the Office of Administration to collect and preserve all e-mails sent or received between March 2003 and October 2005, a Bush administration official said the White House would meet its legal obligations. Millions of White House e-mails are missing from the period.

"The court made clear today that any additional work that the White House has to do before its occupants depart is its own fault," Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the National Archive, said in a statement. "As the magistrate judge implied, they rolled the dice hoping they would get this case thrown out of court and they lost.  Now they have to make up for lost time."

Helen H. Hong, a Department of Justice attorney representing the White House, admitted the Bush administration had hoped to get the lawsuits dismissed but White House search efforts had produced the missing e-mails. Hong said private contractors discovered the missing e-mails after  reviewing more than 60,000 backup tapes at a cost of $10 million.

CREW originally filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Administration on March 29, 2007, regarding records of the missing e-mails. When the Office of Administration refused to turn over the information, CREW sued the White House May 23, 2007, for the information. The organization also released a report on the missing e-mails based on information obtained from two confidential sources.


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