[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.