Court Rejects White House on Missing E-mails





A court ruled today that the National Security Archive may proceed with its effort to force the White House to recover millions of Bush Administration Executive Office of the President (EOP) e-mail records before the presidential transition. Rejecting the government's motion to dismiss the Archive's lawsuit, the Court ruled that the Federal Records Act permits a private plaintiff to bring suit to require the head of the EOP or the Archivist of the United States to notify Congress or ask the Attorney General to initiate action to recover destroyed or missing e-mail records.

"This ruling gives the public a clear voice in demanding preservation of our nation's history, even when that history is created at the White House," explained Sheila Shadmand, an attorney at Jones Day who is representing the Archive. "We can now give positive action to that voice and protect these records before they get carted off or destroyed as the current administration packs its bags to leave. In that sense, the ruling itself is as historical as the records it will protect."

"This is a major victory for the public interest in accountability at the White House," added Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs. "Through this lawsuit we have preserved over 65,000 computer backup tapes. This decision means those tapes will survive the end of the Bush Administration so that Congress, the courts, and eventually the public will be able to learn about the decision-making that took place over the last 8 years."

The National Security Archive originally filed its case against the Executive Office of the President and the National Archives and Records Administration to preserve and restore missing e-mail federal records in September 5, 2007. A subsequent lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has been consolidated with the Archive's lawsuit.

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