Messaging Records (Mis)Management at the White House

by Bharat Suneja

ORDERED that defendants shall preserve media , no matter how described, presently in their possess or under their custody or control, that were created with the intention of preserving data in the event of its inadvertent destruction. Defendants shall preserve the media under conditions that will permit their eventual use, if necessary, and shall not transfer said media out of their custody or control without leave of this court.

In the continuing saga of what can be seen as MRM (Messaging Records Mis-Management), U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy has issued the above temporary restraining order (PDF) blocking the White House from destroying backups of their email. The order is the result of a motion filed by the watch-dog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

The story: About 5 million missing messages from March 2003 to October 2005, a critical period that includes the Iraq invasion, the 2004 election and hurricane Katrina. (For more details, read previous post “Email Archiving and Compliance: Learning from email issues that plague the White House“)

Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin has more in his column “Where are the emails?“.


“The judge’s order ‘should stop any future destruction of e-mails, but the White House stopped archiving its e-mail in 2003 and we don’t know if some backup tapes for those e-mails were already taped over before we went to court. It’s a mystery,’ said Meredith Fuchs, a lawyer for the National Security Archive.”

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