White House reveals e-mails are gone

Posted on January 17, 2008 - 1:31pm.

Sigh: Taping over previously used back-up tapes? Does the White House IT department know anything about standard archiving procedure, then again, perhaps they do. Hopefully the White House ISP is either AT&T or Verizon, in which case the NSA probably already has copies.

from: Houston Chronicle

Jan. 16, 2008, 11:43PM
White House reveals e-mails are gone
Recycling policy means messages were taped over

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Two years ago, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald revealed a tantalizing piece of information in the CIA leak probe. The White House had a problem with its e-mail system.

On Wednesday, the problem got bigger when the White House disclosed for the first time that it had taped over its backup tapes. Not just e-mail either. All electronic documents.

Before October 2003, the White House policy was to recycle backup tapes, possibly erasing previously saved electronic communications at a time when at least three presidential aides were talking about leaking the CIA identity of Valerie Plame to the news media.

"It appears that the White House has now destroyed the evidence of its misconduct," said Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

The number of missing e-mails is over 10 million, says the group, which has taken the Executive Office of the President to court over the issue.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "There is no basis to say that the White House has destroyed any evidence or engaged in any misconduct."

But for two years, the White House has resisted revealing details of the e-mail matter and disclosed information now only because of a federal court order, meeting by minutes a deadline of midnight Tuesday imposed by a U.S. magistrate.

Fitzgerald had good reason to want White House e-mail before he revealed the problem. The prosecutor was preparing to seek an indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and was contemplating one against presidential political adviser Karl Rove.

Fitzgerald's office has repeatedly declined to comment about the emerging information regarding the controversy.