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WASHINGTON — Independent Counsel Robert Ray’s subpoena to the
National Archives is unrelated to recent back-to-back fires at an
archives facility in Maryland, a National Archives spokeswoman says.

On April 5, “boxes” of federal records were torched at the National
Records Center in Suitland, Md. It was the second blaze there since
February.

The two-alarm fire destroyed thousands of documents stored at the
center by various federal agencies — including the Justice Department,
WorldNetDaily has learned.

The fire followed on the heels of a Feb. 29 fire at the center, which
was also in the storage area and also happened on a weekday.
Investigators have ruled both blazes to be arson.

An archives employee, working as an “aide” since 1994, was charged in
the April 5 fire. Authorities have not disclosed a motive.

The two arsons — coming within just five weeks of each other — are
highly unusual. In fact, they’re the first in the center’s history,
according to National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper.

But she says they are not mentioned in Ray’s grand-jury subpoena and
are “not at all” related. She says the subpoena asks for any information
that can shed light on “record-keeping practices in the Executive Office
of the President.”

Ray is investigating charges the White House tried to hide a trove of
e-mails sent to officials there in an effort to obstruct probes ranging
from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky. The unarchived e-mail, which is
nonetheless stored on computer back-up tapes, has been under subpoena
for years.

News of the unsearched White House e-mail got national attention in
mid-February after former White House workers blew the whistle on the
so-called “Project X” e-mail gap in court affidavits. The Washington
Post and New York Times weighed in with front-page stories in March.

The first archives fire destroyed as many as 40,000 pages of
documents. The Labor Department and other federal agencies stored papers
in the area where the blaze was set, Cooper says.

She says it’s not clear how many papers were destroyed in the April 5
fire. But she says the blaze was set in a stacks area where metal
shelves housed “boxes” of archives.

Justice, the IRS, the Housing and Urban Development Department and
the Drug Enforcement Administration were among those federal agencies
storing documents in the area, Cooper says.

All federal agencies — including the Pentagon — house records at
the center, she says. The White House does not use the facility because
presidential records are archived separately.

However, Cooper says some White House papers are stored at the
National Archives building as a “courtesy.”

Asked if computer back-up tapes are kept at the center, Cooper said
she’s not sure.

The National Archives does not operate any facilities in Greenbelt,
Md., Cooper says. Insight magazine, quoting unnamed sources, recently
reported that White House back-up tapes are secretly stored at a
Greenbelt, Md., facility. Greenbelt is about 10 miles north of the
archives center in Suitland, Md.

Almost 4 million cubic feet of records are stored at the Suitland
site.

Cooper says the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have
been called in to help local fire department investigators.

Previous stories:

Did House panel fry good guy?

Document backs cover-up charge

Are e-mail tapes safe?

Smoking gun in the e-mail?

Inside job on e-mail

‘The fix is in’ on e-mail fix?

Firm won’t take hit for Project X fiasco

Memo: More e-mail missing

Gore’s e-mail MIA for next 6 months

More signs of obstruction as judge nears decision

Perjury charges at White House?

E-mail whistle-blower’s office was burglarized

White House killed ‘Project X’ story?

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