Feeds

Info on missing White House emails to remain missing

The Agency Conundrum

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A federal district court judge in Washington D.C. just dealt a setback to an organization looking for answers about missing White House emails.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) after determining that the target of the suit, the Office of Administration for the Executive Office of the President, did not fit the definition of an "agency" that was required to comply with the FOIA suit.

The suit arose after reports began circulating about shoddy archiving practices and missing backup tapes for the White House email system. Allegedly missing from White House backup systems are all emails from the period immediately preceding the start of the Iraq War and emails from the office of the Vice President during the early days of an investigation into the outing of a CIA agent. The Vice President's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was eventually convicted of the crime, but President Bush commuted his sentence.

Two organizations, CREW and the National Security Archive, sued the Executive Office of the President to force it to recover missing emails and institute a more effective backup system. CREW also filed FOIA requests in April 2007 with the Office of Administration seeking the release of all records related to an analysis that the OA conducted in 2005 pertaining to weaknesses in the EOP's process for retaining email.

After receiving no response to the FOIA request, CREW filed a suit in federal court in May 2007 to force the release of the information. After a year of legal back-and-forth, the judge finally dismissed the case on June 16. CREW filed its intent to appeal the decision on the same day.

Essentially, the judge determined that the OA didn't have any substantial independent authority and existed only to assist and advise the President, which excluded it from the definition of an agency. Moreover, the judge found that the nature of the delegated authority that the OA did possess was dissimilar to that of other EOP divisions that courts have subjected to the FOIA.

What's interesting is that the OA considered itself an agency until August 21, 2007 and conducted itself accordingly when responding to FOIA requests. The OA publicly changed its story for the first time in a filing in this case.

Regardless of how the OA had previously operated, however, the judge declared it was not, and never had been, subject to the requirements of the FOIA. Thus, CREW's lawsuit had no legal basis, even though it was filed before the OA switched its line on its agency status.

As mentioned before, CREW has already filed a notice of appeal, so this ruling won't be the final word on the FOIA request.

Nor will it be the final word on the missing White House emails. The other lawsuit seeking to force the EOP to recover missing emails and change its data retention policy is still winding its way through the same court under a different judge. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.