[JURIST] The US Justice Department (DOJ) [official website] argued in court papers filed Tuesday that the White House Office of Administration [official website] is not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] requests. Although most of the White House is exempt from FOIA, some internal offices are subject to the act and the Office of Administration has in the past generally responded to FOIA requests. The DOJ's argument is in response to a lawsuit filed by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington [advocacy website] to force the Office of Administration to turn over information about missing White House e-mails regarding the CIA leak investigation and the US Attorney firing scandal [JURIST news archives]. CREW rejected the DOJ's argument [statement] Tuesday, saying "The OA's disingenuous claim that it is not subject to the FOIA is contradicted by its own actions and statements. On the White House's own website, the OA is designated as one of the few components in the Executive Office of the President subject to the FOIA. The website also provides a link to the OA's FOIA regulations and identifies an OA FOIA officer."
The Office of Administration estimates that at least 5 million White House e-mails from March 2003 to October 2005 are missing. The White House has said that some e-mails may not have been automatically preserved on the Executive Office of the President's computer server, but that they may still exist on back-up tapes. AP has more.