Friday, December 26, 2008

Bush Administration Data Treatens To Overload Archives

A New York Times article by Robert Pear and Scott Shane, via The Mercury News, reports that:

The National Archives has put into effect an emergency plan to handle electronic records from the Bush White House amid growing doubts about whether the agency's new $144 million computer system can cope with the vast quantities of digital data it will receive when President Bush leaves office Jan. 20.

The technical challenge was an inevitable result of the explosion in cybercommunications, which will make the electronic record of the Bush years about 50 times as large as that left by the Clinton White House in 2001, archives officials estimate. The collection will include top secret e-mail messages tracing plans for the Iraq war as well as footage from the likes of Barney Cam 2008, a White House video featuring the First Pet.

Under federal law, the government has "complete ownership, possession and control" of presidential and vice-presidential records. The moment Bush leaves office, the National Archives becomes legally responsible for "the custody, control and preservation" of the records.

But archives officials who disclosed the emergency plan said it would mean that the agency would initially take over parts of the White House storage system, freezing the contents Jan. 20. Only later, after further study, will archivists attempt to move the records into the futuristic computer system they have devised as a repository for digital data.

More here.


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