White House staff ordered to follow national archival law.

Nov 16, 2007

The Bush regime has been notorious from the beginning for violating a basic federal law, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (44 USC 2201-2207), which states that all presidential correspondence and communications must be permanently archived. Bush is interesting in that he is the first president to outright ignore e-mail from his constituents, which caused a minor scandal until American Idol hit the airwaves back in the early years of this decade. At any rate, this matter keeps popping up like a bad penny, most notably White House staff members using GOP e-mail servers to avoid the archival of their e-mail earlier this year. This became a major issue during the investigations of Jack Abramoff and the dismissals of eight US Attorneys from the Justice Department. The National Archives have put their foot down and demanded that the White House start archiving all of its e-mails henceforth after a joint lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics In Washington made it to the federal level.

Sadly, this is a matter of too little, too late. If a message was never sent over the White House network, it's gone, and good luck subpoenaing the RNC's e-mail servers. They've got the clout to keep legal proceedings tied up for a very long time, certainly long enough for a batch of hard drives to conveniently go bad. Then again, given the way most people back up their data, they wouldn't have to pull any dirty tricks to keep their e-mails away from the court.