Cheney must preserve all records

Jordan Zappala | Freedom of Information | Quicklink | September 22, 2008

In a first-round victory for open government advocates, a federal judge ordered Vice President Dick Cheney and the National Archives to preserve all of his official records, according to The Washington Post

Defending against a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and other transparency advocates, Cheney's camp argued for a very narrow interpretation of the Presidential Records Act. It would have required him only to maintain records detailing his work with the U.S. Senate or recalling specific orders from the president and would have excluded many records, including any from his work on the National Security Council and those without express presidential authorization, such as the controversial warrantless wiretapping program, the Post reported.

In a 22-page opinion ordering all documents preserved until a final decision can be reached, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly seemed to say the cost of such a narrow definition was too great:

"Those unprotected documents could be transferred to other entities, destroyed, or not preserved, and if any of these events occur, the damage is inherently irreparable; once documentary material is gone, it cannot be retrieved."