CREW: Bush White House Ignored Warnings About Email

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Garrett Russo 202.408.5565

CREW: Bush White House Ignored Warnings About Email

WASHINGTON - Just how far did the Bush White House go to hide its actions from the
American people?  A new report released today by Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "The Untold Story of the Bush White House Emails,"
attempts to answer the question by providing a wealth of details
regarding the Bush White House's failure to prevent millions of emails
from vanishing forever.   In 2007, CREW and the National
Security Archive sued the Bush White House for violating federal records
laws.  To settle the case, the Obama White House released thousands of
previously withheld documents.  These records reveal that top White
House officials knew about the ongoing problems with the email archiving
system, but repeatedly refused to take corrective action.

"A democratic system of government requires transparency," said
Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director.  "But the Bush administration
prided itself on keeping secrets from the American people, ignoring
federal records laws requiring White House emails be preserved for
future generations."  Sloan continued, "Emails that might shed light on
our nation's recent history - including records created in the lead up
to the U.S. war in Iraq - have been wiped away."  

CREW's report is based on a review of tens of thousands of pages of
Bush-era documents provided to CREW and the National Security Archive as
part of their multi-year lawsuit over the missing emails.  Among the report's key findings:

  • Missing emails included emails from the Office of the
    Vice President for a critical period in the fall of 2003 that were
    sought by the Department of Justice as part of its investigation into
    the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA identity. Files that
    should have contained these emails also were missing from backup tapes
    for that period and in its efforts to restore those emails from
    individual users' mailboxes, the Bush White House excluded the mailbox
    of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from those being restored.
  • Years before its discovery in October 2005 that
    millions of emails were missing from White House servers, the Bush White
    House received multiple warnings from multiple sources, including the
    National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), that emails were at
    risk of destruction.
  • After spending millions of dollars and years of
    effort creating an effective electronic record keeping system called the
    Electronic Communications Records Management System (ECRMS), the Bush
    White House abandoned ECRMS on the eve of its deployment offering
    explanations that NARA, among others, did not find reasonable.
  • In the end, the White House spent between $10 and $15 million to restore emails from just 48 components days.

"Sadly, the American people will never know the full truth of just
what went on inside the Bush White House as decisions affecting all of
our lives were made," said Ms. Sloan.  "Despite repeated warnings that
information was being lost, Bush administration officials repeatedly and
willfully turned a blind eye to the problem."

Click here to read the full report "The Untold Story of the Bush White House Emails" (.pdf)

Read the report's executive summary here (.pdf)

All of the documents produced by the White House in the lawsuits
brought by CREW and the National Security Archive, except those marked
"sensitive" by the White House and not subject to public disclosure, are
available by clicking the links below

A timeline of the Bush White House email compiled by the National Security Archive is available by clicking here.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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