RealTime IT News

Groups Cry For More White House E-mail

Two groups suing to preserve White House email and backup tapes want to go even farther on a court-imposed preservation order. The groups claim the government's objections to a court's backup recommendations are not strong enough.

In separate legal filings to the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. the National Security Archive and liberal advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said the Executive Office of the President (EOP) had failed, for the third time, to demonstrate why expanding the preservation order would be unduly burdensome.

Yesterday's filings are the latest action in a one-year-old court battle the groups initiated to determine whether EOP emails and backup tapes were properly archived.

In its response, CREW said the EOP's argument against expanding the preservation order was akin to the Emperor's New Clothes fairy tale.

"Like the charlatans hired by the emperor to provide him the finest suit of clothes, the White House appears to believe that by saying something again and again this Court will believe it to be so," states the document, alluding to the EOP stating eight times in its last court filing that backup tapes "should" contain all emails sent between 2003 and 2005.

"Quite simply the emperor has no clothes and the story that the White House tells is yet another fairy tale," wrote CREW's counsel Anne Weismann.

Calls to the DOJ were not returned by press time. A spokesperson has stated previously that the White House would not comment on ongoing litigation.

Earlier this month the EOP admitted that three months of data at the heart of the lawsuit are missing from its backup tapes.

Back in late April Judge John Facciola had ordered the EOP to determine the cost for using forensic technology to recover potentially deleted e-mail, provide data on how many current EOP employees were present between March 2003-October 2005, and how many hard drives in use today were used in that same period.

The court also recommended a search of current and older workstations and Microsoft Outlook .PST files for e-mails linked to individuals employed during the time frame, and suggested EOP employees relinquish backup media that contain e-mails sent or received during the time frame.

DOJ lawyers had fired back at the court's recommendations, reiterating the Administration's claim that retrieving lost e-mails would prove unworkable, and impose "significant burdens" on the EOP and hinder "effective service."

Those were the same responses the EOP gave in March when it was ordered to stipulate why the White House could not conduct forensic copying technologies to preserve e-mail files during the litigation process.

Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers for EOP now have until May 27 to respond to the groups' latest court filings.

"After that point it's a waiting stage as the court will then determine whether it will grant our request," Meredith Fuchs, Archive counsel, told InternetNews.com.