Democrat Patrick Leahy told the Senate: “Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon tapes, it appears that key documentation has been erased. This sounds like the Administration’s version of ‘the dog ate my homework.’ You can't erase emails, not today.”
The Democrats have also launched an inquiry into whether the US government's reliance on email is a deliberate ploy to avoid keeping records.
Inquiry chairman Henry A. Waxman said yesterday that he had “serious concerns about the White House’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act 1978".
A White House spokesman would not tell the Associated Press how many emails were had been lost or what information they contained, but a figure of 5 million is being widely reported. Officials are working to recover as many emails as possible, the spokesman said.
White House staff have been temporarily banned from deleting any emails from government accounts, and are being briefed on email management.
US bloggers are buzzing with theories that the loss was no accident. On Salon.com, lawyer Glenn Greenwald claims to see a pattern of contentious documents vanishing during the Bush administration. On iTalk News, 'blueocean' says: " So, the White House is asserting they 'lost' some emails. You've got to be kidding me. Is this a joke?"
Bush under fire over '5 million' disappearing emails
By Jane Hoskyn on Apr 16, 2007 10:21AM
The White House has come under fire after losing a reported 5 million official emails, including several relating to the controversial firing of eight US attorneys.
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