Responding to reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seeking to adopt a new email retention policy that would allow the agency to purge thousands of emails from nearly all of its employees, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) are urging the archivist of the United States to reject the proposal that undermines oversight of the agency.

“We are concerned that this policy would undermine the ability of citizens to understand how their government works and hold it accountable,” Leahy and Cornyn wrote in a letter to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. “In an era when critically important government activities and decisions are conducted via email, a plan to delete the majority of emails at any agency should raise great concern.”

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) sets recordkeeping policies for federal agencies. The CIA is seeking approval with the independent agency to overhaul its email policy to allow all employees and contractors to purge their emails three years after they leave the agency, while the email accounts of the agency’s top officials would become permanent documents. In their letter, Leahy and Cornyn noted that “Due to the nature of the CIA’s work, it is particularly important to evaluate carefully any changes to CIA recordkeeping policies.” Continue>>>