White House Declares Itself a "Freedom" Free Zone

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The Bush administration argued in court papers this week that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act as part of its effort to fend off a civil lawsuit seeking the release of internal documents about a large number of e-mails missing from White House servers.

In other words, us taxpayers pay for everything over there, but those guys are no longer able to be scrutinized in any way, and if we don't like it, well I guess we know what Cheney would say.

The claim, made in a motion filed Tuesday by the Justice Department, is at odds with a depiction of the office on the White House's own Web site. As of yesterday, the site listed the Office of Administration as one of six presidential entities subject to the open-records law, which is commonly known by its abbreviation, FOIA.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit in May seeking Office of Administration records about the missing e-mails, including when they were deleted from government computer files. CREW said it understood that internal White House documents had estimated at least 5 million e-mails were missing from March 2003 to October 2005.

The Bush administration has not provided a number publicly. Some of the records may have been subject to a document preservation law administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Congress has sought access to them as part of its probe into the administration's firing of nine U.S. federal prosecutors in 2006.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said that "one has to wonder if this is an effort by the White House to keep secret the details of how millions of White House e-mail suddenly went missing. The OA's disingenuous claim that it is not subject to the FOIA is contradicted by its own actions and statements."

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel declined to comment.

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