CREW Sues Department of Justice over Missing Yoo Emails
Washington, D.C. - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to provide CREW with records relating to the missing John Yoo emails. In February 2010, DOJ made public a July 2009 report of its investigation into the roles of former high-ranking Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) officials John Yoo and Patrick Philbin in the drafting of OLC’s torture memos, which authorized the use of torture when interrogating detainees outside of the United States.
The investigation was hampered by the fact that most of Mr. Yoo’s emails and many of Mr. Philbin’s had disappeared. CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on February 26, 2010 asking OLC to provide any guidance DOJ employees received regarding preservation of emails as well as any records showing there might have been problems with the storage or retention of emails in OLC. CREW sent a follow-up FOIA request on March 3, 2010 seeking copies of all existing emails sent to or from John Yoo, in an effort to ascertain the extent of the problem with his missing emails.
Although OLC initially agreed to expedite CREW’s request given public interest in the issue, to date OLC has produced only two documents setting forth the record keeping requirements to which Messrs. Yoo and Philbin were subject. DOJ has not provided any of the emails sent to or from Mr. Yoo. In addition, DOJ has not responded to the National Archives and Records Administration’s request that the department investigate and report back on whether the missing high-ranking OLC officials’ emails were destroyed in violation of the Federal Records Act, which mandates the preservation of such emails.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s Executive Director, stated: “Given that millions of emails disappeared from Bush White House servers, no one should be surprised to find that emails disappeared from the Bush Justice Department as well. What’s violating federal records laws compared with avoiding accountability?” Sloan continued, “The public deserves to know the truth behind the OLC torture memos and the Obama administration faces a choice: it can cover-up the Bush administration’s misdeeds or allow the truth to come out and help the country confront and move past this shameful episode.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org