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A potentially controversial file at the Reagan Presidential Library that went missing in the weeks before the confirmation hearings for John Roberts Jr. as chief justice last year has still not been found, according to an internal investigation made public Tuesday. The report by the inspector general for the National Archives and Records Administration indicates that investigators were “unable to determine whether the missing file was taken intentionally, unintentionally, or lost.” The heavily edited report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, went up on the Memory Hole Web site Tuesday night ( http://www.thememoryhole.org/). The investigation was launched last August, after archives officials at the Reagan Presidential Library were unable to find a file on Roberts’ work on the affirmative action issue that had been viewed earlier by lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department. Contrary to reports at the time, the investigation found that the unnamed lawyers had been left alone with the documents for up to 30 minutes at a time while they conferred by telephone with the White House. “Policies and procedures were not consistently followed” when the lawyers were given access to the Roberts files, the investigation concluded. The missing file, relating to Roberts’ work on the affirmative action issue during his time as an associate White House counsel in the Reagan administration, was among more than 50,000 documents at the Reagan Presidential Library in California that were deemed relevant to Roberts ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings into his nomination as chief justice. Roberts was originally picked to replace Sandra Day O’Connor as associate justice, but after the death Sept. 3 of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, President George W. Bush renominated Roberts to replace Rehnquist. News of the missing file first emerged last July. Senate Democrats, suspicious that the documents had been hidden on purpose, asked for investigations. The inspector general of the National Archives, which operates presidential libraries, was assigned to look into a possible violation of the federal law that makes it a crime to remove or destroy government documents. According to the IG report, White House officials first called the Reagan Library on July 18, the day before Bush announced his choice of Roberts for a seat on the Supreme Court. They wanted to review the files relating to Roberts’ White House days and asked first that any classified materials be removed, since the lawyers being sent out to do the research did not have the necessary clearance. When the lawyers arrived later that day, they were allowed to review the documents in an office separate from the main reading room. “While the researchers were reviewing the files an archivist was in the room with them except when the researchers made conference calls to the White House,” the inspector general’s report stated. “During those occasions the researchers were left alone with the records for periods of up to 30 minutes.” There were no restrictions on what the visitors could bring into the office, and they were not searched when they left, according to one employee who was interviewed. The report also indicated that a standard procedure for tagging files as they were taken from a box was abandoned to help speed up the research. A few days later, news organizations began flooding the Reagan Library with FOIA requests for access to Roberts’ files, including his affirmative action correspondence. As the files were prepared for release and placed in new acid-free folders, a worker determined that the file was missing. Numerous top-to-bottom searches of the Roberts documents did not turn up the affirmative action file, according to the report. But based on redundancies in other files, archivist Allen Weinstein concluded in August that the missing file included a memorandum by Roberts dated April 10, 1986. In the memo, Roberts recommended against responding to two letters from ministers who urged President Ronald Reagan not to come out against affirmative action. “The debate is still raging within the Administration and there has as yet been no final decision,” Roberts wrote. Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected]

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