Late last night the White House submitted a curious court filing (PDF) in the ongoing case over the 5 to 10 million emails, spanning 2003 to 2005, that have gone missing from its archives due to a "technical issue." Faced with a court order (PDF), the White House said that it has backup tapes of its email recordsbut only after October 2003, when it stopped recycling its backups. This means that there are apparently no backups of messages sent and received during the previous ten months of 2003an important time period, covering the run up to the Iraq war, as well as the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity. As if this story couldn't get more convoluted, the White House is also claiming it doesn't know whether any emails from that period are actually missing.
"They suggest that they don't even know if they have anomalies, but there's plenty of public record evidence that they do [know]," says Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which, along with the National Security Archives (NSA), is suing the administration to ensure the preservation of presidential records. "This is an extremely carefully worded declaration that when you parse it through doesn't really say a whole lot," Weismann said.