Remember the mystery surrounding the potentially millions of "missing" e-mails exchanged by top White House aides like Karl Rove?
Apparently the White House would prefer that it remain that way--or at least that's the inference one might draw from a letter sent on Thursday to Fred Fielding (PDF), the president's chief lawyer, by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform.
As reported last week by the Associated Press, the Bush administration has taken what Waxman deemed the "unusual position" of declaring the White House Office of Administration immune to requests for relevant documents under the Freedom of Information Act. (The recent declaration came as part of a lawsuit filed back in May by a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought to enforce a FOIA request it had made for more information about the matter.)
White House attorneys, for their part, did acknowledge in late May in a briefing with his committee staff that an "unknown" number of e-mails subject to preservation under the Presidential Records Act may have been lost since 2005, according to Waxman's letter.
But, despite "repeated" committee requests, it hasn't yet coughed up a review that reportedly reveals "some days with a very small number of preserved e-mails and some days with no e-mails preserved at all." White House attorneys also haven't disclosed the identity of a contractor that was responsible for archiving the messages.
In his letter, Waxman instructed the White House to fulfill both requests by September 10. Depending on the response, the committee will decide whether it's appropriate to make the report public, an aide told CNET News.com. A White House representative didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.