Remember the White House emails that may or may not have been lost? The ones that might include evidence of unethical (if not illegal) acts relating to the Scooter Libby scandal, the Iraq war lead up, the Justice Department politicization scandal...?
The federal magistrate hearing a lawsuit brought by the National Security Archives (a group connected to George Washington University) just exerted some pressure on the White House. ABC reports (via Memeorandum):
"The White House has three days to explain why it shouldn't be required to copy its computer hard drives to ensure no further e-mails are lost, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.
"Already, e-mails between March and October 2003 appear to have been lost, Judge John M. Facciola noted, because they were improperly archived and no backup copies exist. That period includes the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
"E-mails by White House staff are considered part of the nation's historical record, and federal law requires they be preserved. The White House has admitted that potentially millions of e-mails from the past eight years have been erased, although it has provided conflicting accounts on how many may still exist on backup tapes.
"The order, issued Tuesday morning by a federal magistrate judge in Washington, D.C., comes in a case brought against the Bush administration by the National Security Archive, a nonpartisan group affiliated with George Washington University....
"Judge Facciola rejected as "draconian" a proposal by the Archive that would have forced the White House to quarantine every computer workstation it had. Instead, Facciola proposed the White House make a "forensic copy" of all preservable data on every computer that could have been used by an employee between 2003 and 2005, the period in question.
"Observing that even that step is "not without its costs," Facciola gave the White House until close of business Friday to argue why it should not be required to make such copies."
In January, the same judge ordered the White House to disclose whether millions of "missing" emails were stored on backup tapes. (AP)
Various statements from the White House have made it pretty obvious that the Bush Administration would rather not put old emails out in public view.
It'll be interesting to see how the Administration will manage to avoid doing so.