ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Obama’s DOJ Opposes Lawsuit to Release Missing Bush E-mails

Feb. 23: This post has been updated.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 18, 2009. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)Millions of Bush White House e-mails may never see the light of day, even with a new administration vowing greater transparency.

As the Huffington Post reported Saturday, the U.S. Department of Justice is still trying to kill a lawsuit filed by two watchdog organizations to release e-mails from the Bush White House. The suit was filed by the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The Bush administration came under fire in 2007 for not properly archiving e-mail. The then-administration claimed that some of the information was no longer available.

The Justice Department filed a motion on Jan. 21—Obama’s first full day in office—seeking to dismiss the White House e-mail litigation. The nonprofit NSA responded with a motion Friday objecting to the Justice Department’s move (PDF).

“President Obama on Day One ordered the government to become more transparent, but the Justice Department apparently never got the message,” Archive director Tom Blanton said in a press release. “The White House e-mail presents a high-level test of the new Obama openness policies, and so far, the grade is at best an incomplete.”

The Archive filed its lawsuit on Sept. 5, 2007, against the Executive Office of the President and the National Archives, seeking to preserve and restore missing White House e-mails. A similar suit filed subsequently by CREW was consolidated with the Archive’s lawsuit.

We’ve phoned the DOJ for comment and will update the post as soon as they respond.

Update: We heard back from the DOJ. A spokesman told us, “We would have no comment at this time and will respond at the appropriate time in court.”

Just as I posted to a previous article: Change? What change?

John Ginsberg-Stevens

Feb. 27, 2009, 7:16 a.m.

Thanks for the update, Jennifer.  This story is not getting a large amount of press, so far as I can tell.  It’s just another incident that makes me wonder how much change is really taking place in government.