recommended reading

Search for White House e-mails could span administrations

Two nonprofit organizations are applauding a court victory that is likely to keep their efforts to retrieve missing White House e-mails afloat until the next -- and likely more cooperative -- administration takes office.

Comment on this article in The Forum.The U.S. Court for the District of Columbia on Monday denied White House lawyers' motion to dismiss the groups' separate 2007 complaints that the Bush administration failed to preserve electronic communications as required by the 1950 Federal Records Act.

"Even though the judge has not ultimately ruled [on the case], this decision is a tremendous victory," said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for The George Washington University's National Security Archive, one of the organizations that launched a complaint. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a separate lawsuit.

Fuchs said the Bush administration will likely run out of time to recover the missing e-mails that may reside on backup tapes. That means the incoming administration must maintain those tapes as evidence for the court case -- regardless of whether they include documents that qualify as presidential records.

Come Jan. 20, however, the challenge of locating those elusive records will fall to the National Archives and Records Administration, which by law assumes responsibility for the custody, control and preservation of presidential records from previous administrations.

"We have every reason to believe [NARA] will try to do the right thing by recovering the missing e-mails, but who knows whether they have the resources for that kind of project," Fuchs said.

Support from the Obama administration certainly would help make the effort a priority. A major platform of his campaign was transparency in government.

"Obama has claimed to recognize how important it is for the White House to be accountable, which I hope means his office will make an effort to restore these e-mails and put some changes in place that have a greater impact [long term]," Fuchs said. "Every administration has had problems with this; hopefully Obama will stop that trend and prove it's possible for the White House to actually keep track of their records."

The White House has been under fire since a 2005 analysis identified a more than 700-day period during which e-mail records were either unrealistically low in number or nonexistent.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.