Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Uh oh -- lost Bush administration e-mails are recovered

News that millions of missing e-mail messages from the archives of the Bush administration have been recovered must have caused a lot of former officials' stomachs to drop in the nation's capital. Two nonprofit groups that had sued to recover the messages in 2007 announced Monday that 94 days of e-mail traffic between 2003 and 2005 would be reconstituted, according to Cable News Network (CNN). The e-mails, considered government property, are expected to reveal information on the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the 2003 disclosure of the identity of an undercover CIA agent married to former U.S. ambassador who was a critic of the Iraq war. The e-mails were requested by Congressional committees investigating the firings, which some alleged were politically motivated, but the Bush administration said they were missing. The groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive filed suit contending the Bush administration violated federal laws that require presidential records to be preserved. A federal investigation into the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame led to the conviction of a top administration official on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, but his sentence was commuted by former U.S. President George W. Bush. The question of whether former Vice President Dick Cheney was involved was never answered, but the answer could be in the missing e-mails. Of course, this being the federal government, it could be years before all of the messages are made public because of a disagreement over whether the release is required under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act or the Presidential Records Act, which allows records to be kept secret for up to 10 years after an administration leaves office.

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