White House Office of Administration Not Subject to FOIA

Charles Davis
June 17, 2008 — 1,058 views  
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The White House Office of Administration is not required to turn over records about a trove of possibly missing e-mails, a federal judge ruled Monday.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found the agency does not have "substantial independent authority" so it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The decision means the White House does not have to disclose documents relating to its troubled e-mail system. That system developed problems that may have caused millions of White House e-mails to be unaccounted for.

The watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had sued under FOIA. The group expressed disappointment in the ruling and said it is appealing the decision.

"The Bush administration is using the legal system to prevent the American people from discovering the truth about the millions of missing White House e-mails," said Melanie Sloan, the organization's executive director.

In January, the White House said it cannot rule out that it may have lost certain e-mails. The possibly lost e-mails are from a period in which the United States decided to go to war with Iraq, White House officials leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame and the Justice Department started a criminal investigation into who leaked the information.

Charles Davis

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Charles N. Davis is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and the executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, headquartered at the School. Davis' scholarly research focuses on access to governmental information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and online libel. He has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information and the University of Missouri-Columbia Provost's Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching, as well as the Faculty-Alumni Award.