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looky what we have here. Computer technicians have found 22 million (yes *million*!) missing e-mail from the bush White House. Back in May, 2008, the number of missing e-mail was 5 million. We’ll continue to track this issue.
UPDATE 12/15/09: National Security Archive has more background and context.
Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, said “many poor choices were made during the Bush administration and there was little concern about the availability of e-mail records despite the fact that they were contending with regular subpoenas for records and had a legal obligation to preserve their records.”
“We may never discover the full story of what happened here,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director. “It seems like they just didn’t want the e-mails preserved.”
Sloan said the latest count of misplaced e-mails “gives us confirmation that the Bush administration lied when they said no e-mails were missing.”
An article in National Journal‘s Tech Daily Dose says that Congress receives 1 million e-mails per day and that the volume is constantly increasing.
- E-Mail Surge Forces Hill IT To Keep Up, by Winter Casey, Tech Daily Dose, February 24, 2009.
The volume of e-mail is rather amazing and significant. Clearly, a lot of people are interested in government and want to have their voices heard. But is email the best we can do? Is anyone actually reading those messages? Aren’t there better technological solutions for communication between constituents and Congress and among constituents? The Open House Project discussion list has kicked this issue around several times, but these are questions without clear answers.
Thinking about those kinds of big issues, I am very encouraged that Carl Malamud is interested in being public printer because his web site YesWeScan has some really innovative and forward-looking ideas. It is really wonderful to see someone with a vision of government information in the 21st century that is more than using new technologies to do what we have always done. Carl is interested in using new technologies to do things we have never been able to do before!
All the President’s IMs: Are Federal Record-keeping Laws Out of Step With Modern Communications?, by MICHAEL C. DORF, FindLaw, Jan. 12, 2009.
Dorf argues that our federal record-keeping laws are out of step with the ways in which people now communicate.
Bush E-Mails May Be Secret a Bit Longer, by R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, December 21, 2008; A01.
Legal Battles, Technical Difficulties Delay Required Transfer to Archives…
The required transfer in four weeks of all of the Bush White House’s electronic mail messages and documents to the National Archives has been imperiled by a combination of technical glitches, lawsuits and lagging computer forensic work, according to government officials, historians and lawyers.
…The risks that the transfer may be incomplete are also pointed up by a continuing legal battle between a coalition of historians and nonprofit groups over access to Vice President Cheney’s records. The coalition is contesting the administration’s assertion in federal court this month that he “alone may determine what constitutes vice presidential records or personal records” and “how his records will be created, maintained, managed, and disposed,” without outside challenge or judicial review.
…The National Archives and Records Administration is supposed to help monitor the completeness of the historical record but has no enforcement powers over White House records management practices.
E-mail public documents get erased, disappear, by Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2008.
A 50-state survey by the Associated Press of government e-mail retention earlier this year found a wide variety of laws and practices, with the vast majority of states officially treating e-mail like printed documents. But most of the states with e-mail laws allow officials to choose which ones to turn over in Freedom of Information requests and to decide on their own when e-mail records are deleted.