The White House has agreed to restore 94 days worth of e-mails that vanished during the Bush administration, a liberal watchdog group announced today.
Under a settlement announced Dec. 14, the Obama administration said it will rescue the missing e-mails from backup files, then send them to the National Archives and Records Administration for storage. It will also produce several boxes of documents relating to failures in the White House e-mail system and the Bush administration’s response to those problems.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued the Bush White House after it learned that potentially millions of e-mails from between March 2003 and October 2005 had disappeared. The public interest group accused the administration of failing to take action to retrieve the e-mails or to establish an appropriate electronic record-keeping system.
Anne Weismann, chief counsel for CREW, said the e-mails will be separated into presidential and federal records collections, and that they could become accessible to public records requests.
“There is the hope of public access, while, without restoration, there wouldn’t have been that hope at all,” Weismann said. “They would have been gone forever.”
After the announcement, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued a statement condemning the Bush administration's handling of the e-mail controversy:
“The Senate Judiciary Committee never accepted the Bush administration’s conclusion that millions of its emails were ‘lost.’ In fact, President Bush’s spokesperson was dismissive of congressional requests that the administration recover the emails. This was another example of the Bush administration’s reflexive resistance to congressional oversight and the public’s right to know.”