Conyers Asks for the White House Side of Yoo and Philbin’s Emails

The letter the National Archives wrote to DOJ last week inquiring about John Yoo’s missing emails focused on DOJ’s violation–as a Federal Agency–of the Federal Records Act.

Now, John Conyers is taking the reverse approach–asking for email exchanges to which the White House was a party–which would be preserved pursuant to the Presidential Records Act.

Any of the missing emails that included White House personnel should have been preserved as Presidential Records and be maintained in your archives. Therefore, I request that you search the relevant records (including both classified and unclassified materials) and provide the Committee with:

  • Any emails including John Yoo sent or received between March 1, 2002, and May 31, 2003.
  • Any emails including Patrick Philbin sent or received between July 1, 2002, and August 5, 2002.

Please make every effort to expedite this request. At a minimum, please provide at [sic] preliminary report on the results of your records search as soon as possibly, and in any event no later than March 15, 2010.

NARA is bound to find one of two things: that the abundant discussions between David Addington and John Yoo in this period (and more limited conversations with John Bellinger) have, like John Yoo’s DOJ emails, simply disappeared. Alternately, maybe they’ll find the White House’s side of emails with John Yoo, about this, and other things (such as the warrantless wiretapping program).

Any bets it’ll be the former?

At the very least, it’ll be a nice test to see how far along NARA’s project of restoring all the destroyed White House emails is coming along.

21 replies
  1. Citizen92 says:

    There won’t be anything from Addington.

    I’m sure Mr. Addington was wearing his “VP as President of the Senate” staffer hat when writing those e-mails and conducting those negotiations.

    As such, his work product would have been done on a Senate-provided computer/network (which isn’t FOIAble) – and whose records become the “personal files” of the Member once he leaves office.

    Fourth Branch’s “President of the Senate” records are not subject to the PRA.

    snark… Now you may disagree that negotiation of the Exec Branch’s affairs using Senate resources was improper, but, that’s your opinion, and you have no way to litigage that… /snark

    • emptywheel says:

      But did those emails not get archived at all then? I think there are emails from the Plame case that exist. So we can double check Addington (though I also think he may have been a joint appoint, w/some WH role, like Libby was).

      The other question is whether AGWHAG used email.

      • Citizen92 says:

        Plame was Libby’s baby. He screwed up managing those records.

        Torture was Addington’s. Yet to see if he screwed up.

        snark…. Doesn’t matter if he was a joint appointee. He was the Chief of Staff to the VP, who is dual hatted – which makes Addington dual hatted. His call to sort out which bucket — and if he screwed up, (I can hear him say) “oh well”. That’s the fault of our system. /snark

        But you are technically correct. Addington’s title was (and he did try to minimize this, to the point of having it removed from the 2008 Plum Book) Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, just like Scooter Libby was. Libby (and I strongly believe, Addington) was a Presidential staff member, and subject to the regular PRA. Not the VP’s interpretation of PRA.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I dunno about that, at one point Addington formally responded to an email inquiry in a fashion that arguably placed him as a de facto custodian of records; at least I thought arguable enough to make him subject to discovery on all the underlying facts on the email system, protocols, records etc. (although the actual content of individual emails would not be open to inquiry in lieu of privilege assertion).

          • NorskeFlamethrower says:

            Citizen bmaz:

            It’s scary the way yer mind works…remind me ta call on you if I need help fendin’ off the bad guys…sheesh, now if you could just get the ear of Conyers’ staff.

    • Mary says:

      Tyco Tim?

      I remember that Tara McKelvey, who authored Monstering: Inside America’s Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War, was interviewed by Ken Silverstein with Harpers back in 2007

      and she said she talked to Flanigan about his policies being implemented against Iraqi civilians: “I had a heartfelt conversation with Flanagan and told him what I had heard from Iraqis: that these techniques had been used on men, women and children in Iraq. He feels bad about it; I know he does.”

      Of course, she said all that before she knew that he was, in August 2002, one of the men who was briefed on the fact that they were doing all these things in real time to innocent Afghan civilians at GITMO, per CIA and military analysis, and he stood by and behind Addington’s spittle that innocence couldn’t be revisited after the US President had declared someone an enemy combatant and, in reliance on his DOJ’s solicitations, committed war crimes against them.

      She might want to reconsider her assessment of how bad he feels about it all.

  2. tjbs says:

    Some minimum wage guard at the Watergate Hotel found tape on a door strike, removed it and also removed president Nixon.

    Is impeachment limited to sitting in office? I don’t think so.
    It’s coming time to impeach bush, cheney and all for torture to prevent any further expenditures on their behalf including secret service.
    Let’s squash any Presidential cheney 2012 talk now.

    Then strip them of their citizenship and war profit fortunes in the future, bastards.( I can dream my dream )

    • ShotoJamf says:

      It’s coming time to impeach bush, cheney and all

      On the contrary. I think we should send them on a nice vacation to Spain. I hear it’s very nice this time of year. Helluva lot cheaper, too.

      • NorskeFlamethrower says:

        Citizen ShotoJamf:

        Oh yeah, the Spanish folks would LOVE ta get their mitts on Cheney et al…does the Spanish Inquisition conger up any images??!!

    • freepatriot says:

      Is impeachment limited to sitting in office? I don’t think so

      it has been applied to a judge who tried to resign to avoid removal, to deny his pension

  3. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    Assumin’ for a moment that we get healthcare done in the next few weeks, what could Conyers do with whatever he gets or doesn’t get pursuant to his request…is there a possibility of gettin hearings that could grab a few headlines and get folks refocused on what the krypto-Nazis did to us over the last 8 years? Seems ta me that the political conversation would bode well for Democrats…that is if Conyers wouldn’t fuck it up.

  4. DWBartoo says:

    While Addington’s nimbus glows around all of this slippery slither, his dactylograms will never, ever, be found criminally upon it…

    Yoo’s escape hatch is a very crude affair, jury-rigged and slap-dashed, however, Addington has a jet-powered ejection module equipped with a platinum parachute, a bar, several Justices, and other entertainment staff, as well as documents sufficient to prove that he was on Mars when all this tawdry stuff went down.

    Would that it were different.

    I consider Addington the most obnoxious, clear and present danger to the rule of law this nation has yet spawned.

    I am curious what the legal “community” in all their great diversity, must think of him. Deference, doubtless, shall prevail and no discouraging words will likely, any time soon, be heard.

    It is my sincere hope that I am completely wrong … about all of this.


  5. freepatriot says:

    Any bets it’ll be the former?

    is this what you’ve been doin with that money we donate ???

    gambling ???

    that’s MY department, thank you very much

    here’s a tip: if ya only take bets on longshots, like snowballs in hell, or the bush administration preserving anything that could hang them, you ain’t gonna have many takers

    but give me 10 bucks on the snowballs, just to be safe …


    drive by hi sign

  6. alinaustex says:

    Could any of these email /electronic documents that went missing describe the actual torture that was being done? And if that could be true -would not Durham also want to see these missing emails/electronic documents ?
    I describe these email /documents as missing because somehow , somewhere they will be recovered – perhaps they already have been retrieved .
    Once the HCR kerfuffle is abated this could all break wide open – if for no other reason the spetic system aka bush43 has finally overflowed – spring is coming and this will be getting very maladorous indeed …
    ( remember the email/electronic documents are missing not completely destroyed)….

  7. timbo says:

    My guess is that the principals’ lawyers are keeping their ears to this blog site. Keep an eye out for rumblings in the legal eagle arena as you get closer and closer to zeroing in on the information that the Congress or some other judicial organization(s) might be interested in seeing get into the record.

Comments are closed.