November 10th, 2008
06:28 PM ET
14 years ago

Judge rules civil case against Bush administration may proceed

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal judge in Washington Monday allowed two private watchdog groups to sue the White House in a case involving potentially millions of missing e-mails.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy rejected a Bush administration request to throw out a suit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive. The government had argued the courts do not have the authority to require the White House to try to retrieve the e-mails in question.

CREW and the National Security Archive are trying to force White House officials to order the attorney general to initiate action to restore the deleted e-mails before they become irrecoverable.

"This is a huge victory for government transparency and the American people," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.

The apparently missing messages cover a period between 2003 and 2005, a period during which there was not a functioning backup system.

The case does not stem from a specific investigation, but highlights the ongoing battle over the limits of executive power. The watchdog groups claim the White House failure to recover, restore, and preserve electronic communications violates the Federal Records Act. The White House maintains its compliance with the Federal Records Act is not subject to review by the courts.

Meanwhile, in a separate lawsuit, a Washington appeals court prepared to hear arguments by the government and CREW this Friday over whether the government is required to provide the e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. paul (staunch Moderate)

    "The White House maintains its compliance with the Federal Records Act is not subject to review by the courts."

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is what the current administration thinks of the US Constitution and law.

    And THAT is what went wrong during the Bush administration. They beleive they are above the law.

    They must not be allowed to get away with it.

    November 10, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. Malik

    I could only guess these email consists of questions for Bush about how he is running the country,so incourse they would be missing.Maybe if Bush read some of the emails maybe it could have helped him in his position as President.Oh well,January 20 can't come soon enough.

    November 10, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  3. Todd

    "The White House maintains its compliance with the Federal Records Act is not subject to review by the courts." Of course not. There's no such thing as constitutionally mandated checks and balances, right?

    November 10, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  4. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Send them all to GITMO!

    Leave them there until we have laws and/or confirm them allowing us to execute former presidents for Treason.

    November 10, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. 3strikes

    obama pleaded false "hope and change" for 2 yrs, and over 65 million braindead lemmings fell for it and voted for him. nobama cannot and will not bring 'change'. he suckered you all. he got everybody all riled up and now he's downplaying it to cover up the disappointment thats coming.

    November 10, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Pamela, IN

    Yes, score one for the people.

    November 10, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. SC

    Where is the accountability? This is democracy not dictatorship! Why not court doesn't have the right to challenge the White House?

    November 10, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Christopher T from Norfolk, VA

    You guys havent heard? King W answers to no one!

    November 10, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. sick n tired

    Looks like ole G.W. Bush and his buddies wont be able to hide behind executive privilege or matters of national security anymore! I hope its just the tip of the iceberg! Can you say War Crimes!!!!!!!!

    November 10, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. Franky

    Ohhh man, how has our country come too far?? Even Saturday Night Live ran so well for crying out loud, LOL!!

    November 10, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. CDM

    Since China has hacked the WH email system, why don't we see if they have them?

    November 10, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Mike, Vancouver

    Isn't this like Nixon missing 17 minutes on an audio tape.

    Is this going to be called Bushgate or something to that effect.

    The missing information could be of any substance but if the Federal Records Act requires that all messages be maintained, if not we then have a severe ethics viloation and possible criminal act.

    It seems also that Sarah Palin has fallen into the ethics bucket as well.

    It also seems that the word ethics is lacking in the political world and I believe that is the political systems downfall.

    November 10, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Let's see how far this goes.

    November 10, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  14. Josh

    It's about time someone cracked down on the Bush Administrations abuse of power. It's suprising that Bush, like Cheney, tried to somehow say that he was not part of the executive branch and not subject to oversight. Wouldn't be the first blunder along those lines. I look forward to an Obama administration of accountability and credibility

    November 10, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. vahe

    get those crooks

    November 10, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  16. Sebastian

    Get Cheney

    November 10, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  17. Justin in CA

    Good for Judge kennedy. Lets hold them accountable just like the rest of us have to be held accountable when it comes to our own actions.

    November 10, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    No back up system for recording official messages? That wouldn't fly at my company. That is incompetence in government.

    Sorry, even hard core Bush supporters have to admit this is a failure of competence in government.

    November 10, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  19. Paul Schultz

    If this president has nothing to hide, why is he being an obstructionist? I suspect there are criminal indications in the missing e-mails that will lead to indictments of Chaney, Rove, Bolton, Myers, Gonzalas and W himself. Let the law prevail! Unless we bring these people to justice, we will be fated to endure their crimes again.

    November 10, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. waxwing069

    Better late then never I guess... Should bring the Bush administration to the Hague and bring charges against them for all the wrong they did. IF it had been anyone else, even a Democrate President that did same things, bet you $1 Million that the Repubs would be judge, and jury. And try him for war crimes...

    November 10, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  21. BeefyDaddy

    No one is above the law!

    November 10, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |