June 16th, 2008
11:55 AM ET
14 years ago

Judge: White House office does not have to turn over records

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/16/art.computerwh0616.gi.jpg caption="The White House won a ruling in federal court Monday in a lawsuit about its computer system and e-mails."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House Office of Administration is not required to turn over records about a trove of possibly missing emails, a federal judge in Washington ruled Monday.

A ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly says the agency does not have "substantial independent authority" so is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore, the White House does not have to disclose documents relating to its troubled e-mail system. That system developed problems which may have caused millions of White House emails to be unaccounted for.

The watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington–known as CREW– had sued under the Freedom of Information Act. The group expressed disappointment in the ruling and said it is appealing the decision.

"The Bush administration is using the legal system to prevent the American people from discovering the truth about the millions of missing White House e-mails," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

In January, the White House said it cannot rule out that it may have lost certain e-mails. The possibly lost e-mails are from a period in which the United States decided to go to war with Iraq, White House officials leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson and the Justice Department started a criminal investigation into who leaked the information.

The White House has denied any evidence, including e-mails, have been destroyed.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. The Bush Twins : George and John

    This is so typical of the Bush administration. Liers all of them !.

    June 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Dan, MA

    Lost? More like erased. This government is in need for monumental change, though the people will never be given all the correct information.

    June 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. AC

    Jeb Bush for president. Now I'm really laughing. He is imcompetent.

    June 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. Broad street buddy

    Oh i wonder if this is any of the judges that obtained her job after the white house fired all of those judges for political reasons??? You remember the firings that Attorney General Gonzalez had to resign over.

    June 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Bob

    Jeb Bush is an idiot

    June 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Matt

    Now listen as the democrats whine because the President can legally keep some things to themselves.

    The democrats think they are above the law, they need to be thrown out of power!

    June 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Tim Koehler

    I vote for Marvin Bush.

    June 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. A recovering Republican

    President Nixon lives on - this is even worse than the 18 minute gap or the missing white house records under HilBilly. - The critcal emails are missing, lost, can't be found? And they say nothing is ever deleted?

    June 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Why do they even bother to call it the "Justice Department' anymore? A serious house-cleaning of all Herr Rove's minions needs to be done soon!

    June 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. Mr. Spock


    June 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Bob Chisolm

    Leaked Valerie Plame Wilson?
    WHY was an under cover CIA operative hiring her husband for a public mission? Of course she would be known at that point because it would be in the public record. The only thing that should be investigated is the nepostism of payng family members with public money AND the stupidity of undercover people not knowing that a simple Freedom of Information Act request would disclose who they were. DUH!

    June 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Michael Lorton. Virginia

    How conveinent for the White House....pointing the finger at "high tech" malfunction...

    June 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Girlfriend is also down with warrantless wiretapping [from the Huffington Post]:

    "A government official familiar with the NSA order said the president urged that the change be explained to only a very limited group of people on a "need-to-know" basis. That meant that, for nearly four years, only two people in the judicial branch of the U.S. government knew about the warrantless searches: U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who presided over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and rotated off the court in May 2002, and U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who succeeded him."

    June 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. martin

    of course not.they are above the law.judge probably put in under daddy bush.

    June 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. RH

    Shades of ZANU-PF...

    June 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Michael, Lorain Ohio

    Oh wow big surprise...gee do you suppose the Bush Admin might have tried to cover up something?? NO...I would never suspect the gov't to protect its own from lawsuits. And then people wonder why we don't trust our own gov't anymore.

    June 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Carmen, Ret Vet Florida

    That is news to me. E-mails they don't get loss neither does armed forces records. Everybody backups their computer system everyday private companies and gov. Also those records get archive and store in permanent vault and kept there for life or until they are needed.

    Why is it that only the white house e-mails get loss and Bush armed forces records?.

    June 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Orlandonative

    If something like this happened in another country, the US will put sanctions against it and insist that the leaders be tried for war crimes....or invade the country to get the evil leader out of the office and save its people.......

    Someone please save us...

    June 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Tammy - KCMO

    Gee, one more cover up by Bush and the Republicans. What a surprise! (/sarcasm off)

    How anyone could vote for someone in the Republican party for 4 more years of the same is beyond me.

    June 16, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Josh

    Just wait until Obama takes office and then we will finally get hold of those emails. Because a person cannot completely destroy an email since they are still on the hard drive. All it would take is to get an computer expert to hack into the computers hard drive and retrieve all those deleted emails. Judge Colleen Kotelly is just another RIght Wing Bush appointee that instead of making the White House turn the emails over, she decides to defend the redneck from Crawford Texas.

    June 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Jack

    Does anyone know who appointed the judge who rendered this decision?

    And can CREW appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals?

    June 16, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Democrazzy !!

    The Government can Wiretap our homes violating our Constitutional rights in the name of Protecting us. Fine ! I will live with it. But we the Citizens cannot exercise our right to Freedom of Information ??!!????!!!!
    I don't understand this !
    Is it because the White House is not in USA ????
    Very Confused ???!!!
    Any Help here folks ???

    June 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Andrew Lee, Nashville, TN

    Sorry martin.....she was was appointed to the United States District Court in May 1997.

    However, the notion that there aren't any shenanigans going on is a little far fetched IMO.

    June 16, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Fred Miller

    Just more lies from the King of all liars, The worst President in the history of our nation, DUBYA...what a disgrace

    June 16, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Jim

    Someone seriously needs to start an impeachment process and look into this...

    June 16, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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