The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Jacob 202.408.5565

CREW and Obama Administration Settle Lawsuit Over Missing Bush White House Emails


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
and the National Security Archive (NSA) reached a final settlement of
their long-running lawsuits challenging the failure of the Bush White
House and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to
take any action after confronted with evidence that millions of emails
had gone missing from Bush White House servers over a two and one-half
year period. The lawsuits followed CREW's revelation in
April 2008 that the White House had discovered the problem in the fall
of 2005. Nevertheless, the Bush White House failed to recover or
restore the missing emails and knowingly continued to use a broken
system for preserving electronic records.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Executive Office of the
President (EOP) will restore a total of 94 days of missing emails,
which will then be sent to NARA for preservation and eventual access
under either the Presidential Records Act or the Federal Records Act.
The dates for restoration were chosen based on email volume and
external events because there simply was not enough money to restore
all the missing emails. In addition, the EOP will continue to provide
CREW and the NSA with records documenting the missing email problem,
the response of the Bush White House to that problem, and the options
the Bush White House considered for preserving electronic records, but
inexplicably rejected.

To date, the Obama White House has produced thousands of pages of
documents relating to these issues, all of which CREW has posted on
Finally, the EOP will be providing a publicly releasable description of
the system it now uses to manage and preserve electronic records,
including its email archiving and backup systems. CREW and the NSA will
then dismiss their lawsuits.

Documents produced so far show the Bush White House was lying when
officials claimed no emails were ever missing. The record now proves
incontrovertibly that Bush administration officials deliberately
ignored the problem and, in fact, knowingly allowed it to worsen. Some
questions remain unanswered. Why, after the Office of Administration
told then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers about the problem and
presented her with a plan to restore the emails, did she do nothing?
Why did the White House abandon -- at the last minute -- a system it
had developed to manage and preserve electronic records, despite having
spent millions to create it? Did the Bush White House properly respond
to requests for records from the Department of Justice and Special
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald during the investigation into the leak of
Valerie Plame Wilson's covert CIA identity?

Melanie Sloan, CREW's Executive Director, said, "We may never know
exactly what happened to all the missing emails, and which Bush
administration officials were involved in the coverup, but we do know
the American public never got the full story." After the Obama
administration produces all the promised records, CREW will release a
report, providing as much detail as possible. Sloan continued, "The
Obama administration, which inherited the lawsuits and the
dysfunctional White House email system, has done a terrific job
straightening out the mess. Thanks to the Obama White House, a critical
part of our nation's missing history will be restored. This is yet
another example of the administration living up to its promise of
accountability and transparency."

Click here to read the terms of agreement.

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.