Open Government Groups and Obama Administration Settle Lawsuit over Missing Bush White House Emails

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive (the Archive), the White House and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced an agreement Monday to settle a long-standing lawsuit, filed by CREW and the Archive in 2007, to get access to millions of missing Bush White House emails.

The Obama Administration found a total of 22 million missing emails that had been mislabeled. Under the terms of the settlement, the Executive Office of the President (EOP) will restore 94 days of missing emails from January 2003 to April 2005, including 21 days on which the Bush Administration had reported an unusually low number of emails. The Bush White House had denied that the emails were missing, although it did admit to not having an effective system for storing and preserving emails. The new agreement requires the EOP to provide a description of the system it is currently using to manage and preserve its electronic records.

The missing records will now be sent to NARA, which will maintain the restored emails and eventually make them available under the Presidential Records Act or Federal Records Act.

AALL is pleased with the outcome of this settlement. In our December 2008 Statement to the Obama-Biden Transition Team, we urged the Administration to work with NARA from day one to plan for the electronic record keeping of their digital materials, including the use of non-proprietary systems that are crucial to digital preservation. We congratulate CREW and the Archive on this important victory for public access.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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