Watchdog Report: Bush Aides Didn’t Care About Threat To Emails

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Aides to President George W. Bush weren’t troubled by the threat, due to a tech glitch, of losing millions of emails — the preservation of which is required by federal law.

According to a new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Vice President Cheney and others ignored warnings that, with no viable archive system in place, emails could be lost as the White House switched to the Microsoft Exchange email system in 2002. White House Counsel Harriet Miers even rejected a 2005 plan to restore the emails, according to the report.The 54-page report reads like an IT horror story, with staffers manually saving each email through Outlook and using four different tools to search for emails to answer a subpoena in the Valerie Plame leak investigation. From the report:

A February 2005 document prepared by White House officials describes the White House records management system as “inadequate, out of date, non-compliant, undocumented, and having a ‘make it up as you go along approach'” – problems that risked records being “improperly destroyed.”

The report also notes that, when trying to recover emails related to the Plame investigation, the White House did not attempt to restore Scooter Libby’s mailbox even though he was at the center of the investigation.

The report follows a settlement, reached last year between the White House, CREW and the National Security Archive, stemming from CREW and the National Security Archive’s lawsuit against the Bush administration in 2007 for the emails. The settlement resulted in the restoration of 94 days worth of emails.

Read the full report:

Report on Bush e-mails

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