Surprise, Surprise: No One Knows How Many Bush Administration Emails Lost, or How to Get Them

In a development that should surprise no one, the lame-duck Bush Administration continues its refusal to comply with Federal records retention laws that require the White House to save and archive all electronic communication. And worst of all, no one knows how many emails are missing, or how we can get them.

A recent inquiry into the archiving process of the National Archives and Records Administration led by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has turned up an incomplete and sorely-lacking plan that raises serious questions about just how many email the Bush Administration is hiding, and the limited avenues the American people have to recovering those messages.

According to the plan, obtained by the Raw Story, the Archives are planning for ‘€œ50-100 times the volume of electronic materials and formats not previously dealt with.’€ Fine. We all understand that email and other e-communications have exploded during the Bush years, and such difficulties should be planned for.

But further on in the report, the Archives says it is “confident that it has the ability to ingest the Bush emails, [but] the timing of this ingestion is dependent on the completion of any ongoing restoration project for the MS Exchange emails undertaken by the EOP.”

Little known fact: the Bush Administration totally dismantled the Automated Records Management Systems (ARMS) almost IMMEDIATELY after taking office, and implemented a new program utilizing MS Exchange, which has proven to be unreliable as between 5-10 million emails have been deleted from the White House servers. Are we ever going to see those emails or what’€™s in them? Maybe we’€™ll get an inside-the-Beltway look at the attorney firing scandal. Or maybe we’€™ll see who was talking to who about the war in Iraq and Abu Ghraib. Or maybe, if the lamest-duck-we’€™ve-ever-had Bush Administration have their way, those messages will be lost forever in cyberspace’€¦

The Bush Administration being secretive and unwilling to comply with simple open records requirements? I’€™m not surprised and you shouldn’€™t be either.


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