After watching wholesale lots of the Bush administration’s most important e-mails go mysteriously missing, Congress is trying to legislate against any further damage to history. The secrecy-obsessed White House is, of course, threatening a veto — one more effort to deny Americans their rightful access to the TRUTH about how their leaders govern or misgovern.
The House approved a measure last week that would require the National Archives to issue stronger standards for preserving e-mails and to aggressively inspect whether an administration is in compliance. The Archives needs spine stiffening. Congressional investigators found that its staff backed off from inspections of e-mail storage after the Bush administration took office.
We fear we may never find out all that has gone missing in this administration, although we urge Congressional investigators to keep trying. What we do know is that the Bush gaps of missing e-mails run into hundreds of thousands during some of the most sensitive political moments. Key gaps coincide with the lead-up to the Iraq war — and the White House’s manipulation of intelligence — as well as the destruction of videotapes of C.I.A. interrogations and the outing of the C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
Missing e-mails include entire blank days at the offices of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Also mysteriously wiped from the record are e-mails from Karl Rove, the president’s political guru, and dozens of other White House workers who improperly conducted government business on Republican Party e-mail accounts. The White House now claims that nothing has been lost, though officials previously acknowledged large-scale purging, claiming they were accidental.
An administration with nothing to fear from the truth would be in the forefront of protecting the historical record. The Senate must stand with the House and ensure that at least future administrations are stopped from doing wholesale damage to history.
New York Times Editorial, ("History Deleted At The Whitehouse,"7.13.2008, Image: Artist Unknown: George Washington, Anti-Censorship Group, myspace.com, 2008).