WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Watchdog groups say a deal reached with the Obama administration will allow the restoration of e-mail from former President George W. Bush's administration.
Under Monday's settlement, e-mail traffic selected from days between January 2003 and April 2005 -- a period covering 22 million e-mails -- will be restored from backup tapes, CNN reported Tuesday. Of the 94 days, 40 were picked by statistical sample, 21 were suggested by the White House and 33 were days the groups deemed "historically significant" from before the start of the Iraq war to when the dismissal of several U.S. attorneys was being planned.
Also requested were several days of e-mails sent about the time it was announced a criminal investigation was under way into the disclosure of then-CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said it could be years before most of the e-mails are made public, the U.S. news network said.
"The e-mails themselves are not what we're getting," Sloan said.
Documents on how the Bush administration e-mail messages were handled, as well as subsequent information on how White House e-mail is archived, will be released under terms of the settlement of the 2007 lawsuit filed by CREW and National Security Archive, CNN said.
But the National Archives must sort out which documents are covered by the Freedom of Information Act and which ones are protected by the Presidential Records Act, meaning they could be withheld for five to 10 years after the Bush administration left, Sloan said.
The e-mail flap dates to the 2006 firings of several federal prosecutors. When congressional committees demanded the administration provide documents related to the firings, the White House said millions of e-mail messages could have been lost. CREW and the National Security Archive sued, arguing the Bush administration violated federal laws requiring presidential records to be preserved.