White House: Gosh, darn it to heck. You know, we'd love nothing more than to be able to walk up to you and say, "Here are those e-mails you wanted, sir, in mint condition and ready for review!" But, damnit, they disappeared when we recycled those darn backup tapes! We are really, really sorry about all this. I mean, who knew?
The White House has acknowledged recycling its backup computer tapes of e-mail before October 2003, raising the possibility that many electronic messages — including those pertaining to the CIA leak case — have been taped over and are gone forever.

The disclosure came minutes before midnight Tuesday under a court-ordered deadline that forced the White House to reveal information it has previously refused to provide.

Among the e-mails that could be lost are messages swapped by any White House officials involved in discussions about leaking a CIA officer's identity to reporters.
And, just in case you forgot what this really means:
If the e-mails were not saved, the White House might have violated two laws requiring preservation of documents that fall into the categories of federal records or presidential records.
I invite all legal Shaker scholars to come up with defensive spins for the White House that could get them out of this mess.

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