Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days’ worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.
The two private groups — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive — said Monday they were settling the lawsuits they filed against the Executive Office of the President in 2007. It will be years before the public sees any of the recovered e-mails because they will now go through the National Archives’ process for releasing presidential and agency records. Presidential records of the Bush administration won’t be available until 2014 at the earliest.
Former Bush White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the 22 million e-mails already had been recovered while Bush was still in office and that misleading statements about the former administration’s work demonstrate “a continued anti-Bush agenda, nearly a year after a new president was sworn in.” “The liberal groups CREW and National Security Archive litigate for sport, distort the facts and have consistently tried to create a spooky conspiracy out of standard IT issues,” Stanzel said in a statement.
The 22 million e-mails “would never have been found but for our lawsuits and pressure from Capitol Hill,” said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for CREW. “It was only then that they did this reanalysis and found as a result that there were 22 million e-mails that they were unable to account for before.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the Bush administration had been dismissive of congressional requests that the administration recover the e-mails. Leahy said it was “another example of the Bush administration’s reflexive resistance to congressional oversight and the public’s right to know.” The tally of missing e-mails, the additional searches and the settlement are the latest development in a political controversy that stemmed from the Bush White House’s failure to install a properly working electronic record keeping system. Two federal laws require the White House to preserve its records. The two private organizations say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally. —Full story continues below—