The National Archives has written to the Justice Department, looking for answers on the question of John Yoo’s missing emails — and has given the department 30 days to respond.
In a letter to Jeannette Plante, the director of DOJ’s Office of Records Management Policy, NARA director Paul Wester wrote:
In accordance with 36 CFR 1230.16(b), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is writing to the Department of Justice (DOJ) with a request for a response within 30 days of the date of this letter. If DOJ determines that an unauthorized destruction has occurred, then DOJ needs to submit a report to NARA as described in 36 CFR 1230.14.
You can see the letter here.
Plante declined to comment to TPMmuckraker, referring us to the department’s public affairs office, which has not responded to our request for comment on the emails.
NARA has responsibility for maintaining a permanent archive of government records. The Federal Records Act prohibits the destruction of such records without prior approval from NARA.
As we’ve reported, the Office of Professional Responsibility noted in its report on the Torture Memos that it was told John Yoo’s emails had been deleted and were unrecoverable.
Newsweek, which first reported the NARA letter, added:
The department is seeking to determine what department policies and procedures were in place at the time to archive or otherwise preserve employee e-mails, according to a source familiar with the department’s review who asked not to be identified because it is ongoing.
As we’ve noted, in addition to NARA, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), the New York Times, and CREW have all raised concerns about the emails. A Justice Department official this morning told Leahy that he would direct that the emails be retrieved if they’re found to be recoverable.