When Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald wanted to find out what was going on inside Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, the prosecutor in the CIA leak probe made a logical move. He dropped a grand jury subpoena on the White House for all the relevant e-mail.
One problem: Even though White House computer technicians hunted high and low, an entire week’s worth of e-mail from Cheney’s office was missing. The week was Sept. 30, 2003, to Oct. 6, 2003, the opening days of the Justice Department’s probe into whether anyone at the White House leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
That episode was part of the picture that unfolded Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where Democrats on a House committee released new information about one of the Bush White House’s long-running issues, its problem-plagued e-mail system.
For the first time, a former White House computer technician went public with the details. Steven McDevitt revealed in written statements submitted to Congress how a plan was developed to try to recover the missing e-mail for Fitzgerald.
Ultimately, 250 pages of electronic messages were retrieved from the personal e-mail accounts of officials in Cheney’s office, but whether that amounted to all the relevant e-mail is a question that may never be answered.
McDevitt made clear that it was a sensitive issue inside the White House.
“I worked with … White House Counsel on efforts to provide an explanation to the special prosecutor,” McDevitt wrote. “This included providing a briefing to the special prosecutor’s staff on this subject.”
McDevitt provided no details of the meetings with White House Counsel Harriet Miers and others in the counsel’s office in late 2005 and early 2006. The White House refused to comment on those meetings.