CIA withdraws plan to destroy emails

CIA withdraws plan to destroy emails
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The CIA has formally withdrawn a controversial proposal to destroy the emails of all but 22 top-level officials after an employee leaves office.

A representative for the National Archives confirmed to The Hill on Monday that the agency backtracked on its proposal last month, following efforts to reorganize its structure.

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The move formally kills an initiative condemned by lawmakers in both parties.

In 2014, the National Archives tentatively approved a CIA plan to delete emails from all “non-senior” employees after three years “or when no longer needed, whichever is sooner.” The email messages of only 22 CIA officials would be preserved indefinitely, which lawmakers condemned as counter to the spirit of transparency and accountability.  

The National Archives said it would “reassess” the proposal following the congressional outrage, and it remained under review until the CIA formally killed it.

In a statement to the Federation of American Scientists, which first reported on the proposal’s withdrawal, the National Archives said the CIA’s move was due to the largest internal shakeup at the agency since the Cold War. The reorganization, completed last October, put a new focus on digital and cybersecurity efforts.

After withdrawing its contentious proposal, the CIA needs to come up with a new plan for how to preserve or destroy officials' email records. That plan will have to be presented to the National Archives.