CNN’s headline is Cheney must keep records, judge orders. The very short version of all this is that the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued “Vice President Richard B. Cheney in his official capacity, the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”), the Office of the Vice President (“OVP”), the National Archives and Records
Administration (“NARA”), and Dr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, in his official capacity” to force everyone involved to “preserve all vice presidential records, broadly defined to encompass all records relating to the vice president carrying out his constitutional, statutory or other official or ceremonial duties” (see the CREW site article: Court Orders Cheney to Preserve Records in CREW Lawsuit).
Turns out that a judge agrees with CREW and has ordered that:
Defendants shall preserve throughout the pendency of this litigation all documentary material, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof created or received by the Vice President, his staff, or a unit or individual of the Office of the Vice President whose function is to advise and assist the Vice President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the Vice President, without regard to any limiting definitions that Defendants may believe are appropriate
I love that last bit – keep it all, even if you don’t think you should. The court order finishes by saying that they should still give the records to NARA as long as NARA is going to treat them as covered by the Presidential Records Act (see NARA’s PRA page or Wikipedia’s PRA page – I will let you guess which is easier to read).
Is it bad of me to be excited that this is being treated as front page news? As of 9:30pm September 20th 2008, CNN is featuring the article in its ‘prime top left with a big photo’ spot and the New York Times has a link off the main page to their article: Cheney Is Ordered to Preserve Wide Set of Records. They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I would like to believe that front page news stories such as this one help improve understanding of archives in general (and NARA in particular).