WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is keeping a tight hold on Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation letter nearly five months after the former defense secretary and Iraq war manager stepped down.
The Pentagon says it does not have a copy, and the White House office likely to hold the letter is not subject to the law that allows the public to seek release of government documents, the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA .
A defense official, who declined to be identified publicly, on Tuesday chalked up the close hold on Rumsfeld’s letter to the existence of few copies.
“I suspect there’s only one copy of that and it went to the president,” the official said.
Reuters filed FOIA requests for the letter with the Pentagon and White House.
In response to a November request, the Defense Department’s FOIA office said last month a “thorough search of the records systems ... revealed no records responsive to your request.”
President George W. Bush’s office of administration, in response to another FOIA request, said this month it too had no copy of Rumsfeld’s resignation letter.
But Carol Ehrlich, FOIA officer there, said the office of administration within the executive office of the president was a separate entity from the White House office, which controls its own records and is not subject to FOIA.
Pentagon spokesmen refused to release the letter in November 2006, when Rumsfeld resigned after Republicans’ stinging election defeat. They told reporters to file FOIA requests for the letter.