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Advocacy group seeks court order requiring White House preservation of e-mails

[JURIST] A private advocacy group requested a temporary restraining order [press release; motion, PDF; motion exhibits, PDF] Thursday to compel the White House to save back-up disks of all e-mails relating to the Bush administration. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) [advocacy website] sued the Executive Office of the President and the National Archives and Records Administration last month over their alleged failure to preserve e-mails [complaint, PDF; press release] throughout the Bush administration. The lawsuit arose from millions of e-mails that have been deleted from White House servers and now only exist on back-up tapes, if they exist at all. The CREW motion seeks an order "to prevent any further document destruction."

Thus far, the White House has refused to confirm that they have maintained e-mail records since the beginning of the Bush administration, as they are required to do, according to CREW executive director Melanie Sloan. The US Department of Justice has been unresponsive about what back-up tapes the White House maintained, although it has stated that the White House has maintained all back-up tapes since CREW filed suit last month. The issue of missing e-mails has been an ongoing controversy in the Bush administration, arising first during the CIA leak investigation [JURIST news archive] into the revelation of Valerie Plame's identity, and again this year during controversy over the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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