The Amazing Erase
CREW Chief on Fitzgerald and the Missing Emails
By Matt Renner and Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Report
Wednesday 18 April 2007
A couple of weeks before I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers was told that an internal White House probe determined that millions of administration emails dating back to 2003 were lost.
Miers immediately informed Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate whether administration officials knowingly leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, about the administration's lost emails, a government watchdog group has claimed, but Miers may not have told Fitzgerald the extent of the White House's email problem.
During a wide-ranging interview with Truthout on Monday, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and CREW's Chief Counsel Anne Weismann said they believe Miers did not fully inform Fitzgerald about the millions of emails the White House lost between 2003 and 2005. As a result, the CREW attorneys said it's likely that Fitzgerald did not obtain all of the evidence related to the leak investigation - particularly emails sent during that time period by Karl Rove that may further implicate the White House political adviser in the Plame Wilson leak.
The latest revelation by CREW provides new insight into how Fitzgerald first became aware that some emails related to the leak investigation were not turned over to FBI investigators in the fall of 2003, which the special prosecutor disclosed in a court filing in January 2006.
"We assume this is what [Fitzgerald] was referring to [in his court filing], but we do not know how deep the briefing given to him by Miers was," Sloan said.
In a story first reported by Truthout last year, Fitzgerald revealed that his investigative team "learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system," according to the January 2006 court filing. Less than two weeks after Fitzgerald revealed that emails from the White House were missing, 250 pages of emails from President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney's offices were turned over to investigators working for the special prosecutor - more than two years after the investigation had begun.
The White House offered no official explanation concerning the circumstances regarding the sudden reappearance of the emails it turned over to Fitzgerald on February 6, 2006. At the time, a White House spokeswoman would only say that staffers "discovered" the batch of documents during a search.
In October of 2005, the White House Office of Administration discovered that White House emails had not been archived in accordance with the Presidential Records Act, according to Sloan. The Office of Administration briefed Miers about the lost emails and Miers is said to have immediately informed Fitzgerald's staff about the issue due to the fact that Fitzgerald had subpoenaed White House emails sent in 2003. However, according to Sloan, Fitzgerald's staff was briefed before a complete audit of the email records could be taken.
The Office of Administration audit concluded that more than five million emails had been lost. Sloan, who said her organization had obtained information about the extent of the emails the White House lost from two sources - one a former Bush administration official - believes this "suggests that Fitzgerald might not have gotten the complete story."
Media largely ignored Fitzgerald revelation that White House may have destroyed emails
Thu, Feb 2, 2006 5:34pm EST
A February 1 New York Daily News article by staff writer James Gordon Meek reported that in a recent letter to defense attorneys for former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the lead prosecutor in the CIA leak case, wrote that numerous White House emails from 2003 are missing from White House computer archives. A Media Matters for America survey of coverage following the publication of Meek's article found that major news outlets have -- with only a few exceptions -- ignored this story.