Despite 20 years of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Monday that the White House’s Office of Administration is not subject to FOIA and can withhold internal paperwork on the disappearance of thousands of e-mail messages.
District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, in a 39-page opinion dismissing a watchdog group’s lawsuit, found that the Office of Administration "lacks the type of substantial independent authority" that would place it under FOIA’s purview, The Washington Post reported.
In its suit, the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sought internal records on the disappearance of e-mails exchanged during several key periods of the Bush Administration. CREW said it would appeal Kollar-Kotelly’s decision.
The White House has been embroiled in controversy for months over the missing e-mails, and targeted for criticism over its patterns of secrecy. In 2007, as CREW moved to sue over the paperwork, the Administration decided the Office of Administration would no longer submit itself to FOIA requests — something it had done since its 1978 inception, according to The Associated Press.
CREW and the National Security Archive have filed another lawsuit, specifically against the Executive Office of the President, over the missing e-mails.