Twenty-two million missing e-mails from the Bush White House have been found, according to two groups that are settling lawsuits they filed over the issue. A former Bush spokesman, though, dismissed the claim as overblown.
The announcement came from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive, both of which were settling lawsuits they filed in 2007 over the failure of the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system. The groups said computer technicians uncovered the missing e-mails.
Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, said "many poor choices were made during the Bush administration and there was little concern about the availability of e-mail records despite the fact that they were contending with regular subpoenas for records and had a legal obligation to preserve their records."
"We may never discover the full story of what happened here," said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. "It seems like they just didn't want the e-mails preserved."
The groups said there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mails and there may never be a complete tally.
But former Bush spokesman Scott Stanzel downplayed the announcements.
"The liberal group CREW litigates for sport, distorts the facts and has consistently tried to create a spooky conspiracy out of standard IT issues. Their misleading statements about our work demonstrates their continued anti-Bush agenda, nearly a year after a new president was sworn in," he said.
The Bush White House claims the e-mails referred to Monday were those already identified and recovered by the Bush administration before President Obama took office.
But the public might not see any of the e-mails for quite some time anyway because they will now go through the National Archives normal process for releasing presidential and agency records.
The two groups say the 22 million White House e-mails were previously mislabeled and effectively lost.
The recovered e-mails -- located over the past year by White House contractors -- will now become part of the archived collection of papers at the National Archives and Records Administration.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.