The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Peter Bjork 202.408.5565

CREW Lawsuit Reveals 83% of Bush-Era Emails Were Never Archived


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
and the National Security Archive (the Archive) asked U.S. Archivist
David S. Ferriero to restore all of the millions of missing emails from
the Bush White House based on newly-obtained evidence that 83% of emails
from 21 days between September 2003 and August 2005 were never
archived. Rather than restoring the missing emails, the Bush White
House spent over $10 million trying to prove no emails were missing.

As part of a settlement of the lawsuits CREW and the Archive brought
against the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the National
Archives and Records Administration (NARA) over the millions of Bush-era
emails missing from White House servers, EOP agreed to conduct a
comparison of archived email and email restored from backup tapes for 21
days previously identified as having a suspiciously low volume of
email. The comparison revealed that 83% of emails found on the backup
tapes was not part of the archived collection of Bush emails and would
be lost if not for CREW's and the Archive's lawsuits. But, as CREW and
the Archive explained in their letter to the archivist, because EOP used
a patently flawed process to identify low volume days, a large volume
of unrestored emails on backup tapes still remains missing. The
archivist now has custody and control over all the backup tapes that
would be used for further restoration.

CREW and the Archive also sent a second letter to White House Counsel
Bob Bauer, Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, and Office
of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein,
asking them to lead a broader effort to address the government-wide
problem of managing and preserving emails. NARA recently released a report showing that 79% of federal
responding to a NARA survey may be improperly
destroying records in violation of federal law. CREW and the Archive
called on the White House to convene a high-level commission to develop a
plan of action to respond to this systemic problem.

Anne Weismann, CREW's chief counsel, said, "The Bush administration
spent millions of dollars trying to prove there were no missing emails
in the first place. Now we know the truth: emails did in fact vanish
from White House servers. Unless the archivist takes further action,
most of the emails lost from a 2 year period critical to our nation's
history will never be recovered." Ms. Weismann continued, "As troubling
as the missing Bush emails are, the Obama administration has a much
bigger problem on its hands. With the majority of federal records at
risk of destruction, the government simply cannot sit back and do
nothing while valuable records are lost to history ."

to read CREW's and the Archive's letter to the archivist.

to read CREW's and the Archive's letter to the White

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.