Missing White House Emails: Gone and Never Coming Back
The last we heard from the White House on the subject of its missing emails, one presidential spokesperson was telling the nation, "I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million e-mails lost.... We screwed up, and we're trying to fix it," while another presidential spokesperson was also telling the nation that White House officials have "absolutely no reason to believe that any emails are missing."
It's the kind of clear, helpful explanation we've come to expect from the Bush gang.
Yesterday, we learned that untold millions of emails are gone, and they're never coming back.
After promising last year to search its computers for tens of thousands of e-mails sent by White House officials, the Republican National Committee has informed a House committee that it no longer plans to retrieve the communications by restoring computer backup tapes, the panel's chairman said yesterday.
The move increases the likelihood that an untold number of RNC e-mails dealing with official White House business during the first term of the Bush administration -- including many sent or received by former presidential adviser Karl Rove -- will never be recovered, said House Democrats and public records advocates.
The RNC had previously told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that it was attempting to restore e-mails from 2001 to 2003, when the RNC had a policy of purging all e-mails, including those to and from White House officials, after 30 days. But Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) disclosed during a hearing yesterday that the RNC has now said it "has no intention of trying to restore the missing White House e-mails."
"The result is a potentially enormous gap in the historical record," Waxman said, including the buildup to the Iraq war.Despite laws mandating otherwise, 80 White House officials routinely used private email accounts for government business, and the RNC deleted all WH emails through 2004. (Karl Rove, for example, sent or received 140,000 e-mails on RNC servers from 2002 to 2007, and more than half involved official ".gov" accounts.)
Worse, this is only half the problem.