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PROFS Case

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n. ~ A lawsuit (Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President, 1 F.3d 1274 [DC Cir 1993]) filed by Scott Armstrong, American Historical Association, the American Library Association, the Center for National Security, and others, relating to access to and the disposition of email records.

Notes: 

The case takes its name from the IBM PROFS (Professional Office System) email system used in the White House. In a later opinion, the US Court of Appeals also held that National Security Council staff solely advise and assist the president and thus create presidential records not immediately subject to the Freedom of Information Act (see Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President, 90 F.3d 553 (D.C. Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1239 (1997)).

Citations:
(Baron 1999) On January 19, 1989, the last day of the Reagan Administration, a federal court in Washington, D.C. granted a temporary restraining order to preserve a collection of PROFS backup tapes from the National Security Council (NSC) and EOP's Office of Administration, in a lawsuit brought by several individuals and nonprofit associations captioned Armstrong v. Bush and filed as a Federal Records Act (and Freedom of Information Act) challenge. The PROFS tapes contained, among other things, electronic mail messages of Oliver North concerning the Iran-Contra affair, transmitted over the NSC's internal e-mail system. [Citing Armstrong v. Bush, 721 F. Supp. 343, 345 n.1 (D.D.C. 1989).] . . . On January 6, 1993, as amended on January 11, Judge Charles R. Richey issued an injunction against the EOP (including the NSC), holding that based on the characteristics of the proprietary e-mail systems in place within the EOP and NSC at the time, the defendants' written records policies directing that hard copies of e-mail messages be printed out as the sole means of preserving e-mail records was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the U.S. federal records laws. [Note: Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President, 810 F. Supp. 335 (D.D.C. 1993).] This holding was affirmed on later appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. [Note: See Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President, 1 F.3d 1274 (D.C. Cir. 1993). On January 15, 1993, the government's emergency motion for a partial stay of the district court's Order was granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals, allowing EOP components to delete e-mail messages from their live operating systems, so long as all record information was preserved in identical form on backup tapes. Order of January 15, 1993, Civ. No. 93-5002 (D.C. Cir.). ]