NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Attorney General Bob Ferguson: Decision to close National Archives in Seattle is “illegal”

In a sharply word­ed and jus­ti­fi­ably scathing let­ter, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has threat­ened to sue the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment if the Trump regime does not aban­don its plans to close the Nation­al Archives’ Seat­tle branch and sell off the prop­er­ty to gen­er­ate cash for the Unit­ed States Treasury.

We dis­cussed this appalling deci­sion here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate last month and promised we would keep read­ers updat­ed on any devel­op­ments.

Yes­ter­day, our Attor­ney Gen­er­al stepped up to the plate to go to bat for us by reveal­ing that he has stud­ied the deci­sion and believes it would not with­stand judi­cial scruti­ny. Fer­gu­son has an excel­lent record of going up against the Trump regime in the fed­er­al courts and is essen­tial­ly unde­feat­ed in the cas­es he’s filed.

“The deci­sion is ille­gal and was made with­out con­sult­ing with local, state, or trib­al offi­cials,” Fer­gu­son’s let­ter declares in one of its open­ing paragraphs.

“If OMB [the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get, an agency that is housed in and con­trolled by the White House] and PBRB [the Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board] had con­sult­ed with local, state, and trib­al offi­cials, you would have learned of the sad lega­cy of the land on which the archives facil­i­ty is locat­ed and the deep his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance of the records stored there,” the let­ter goes on to say.

In sub­se­quent pas­sages, Fer­gu­son explains that the build­ing the Seat­tle branch of NARA is housed in was con­struct­ed on land land that once had been a thriv­ing farm of an interned Japan­ese-Amer­i­can fam­i­ly — the Taka­su­gi fam­i­ly — and that some of the records housed there doc­u­ment his­to­ry of fam­i­lies who were affect­ed by Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt’s Exec­u­tive Order 9066.

The build­ing also con­tains essen­tial records that tribes in the Pacif­ic North­west must be able to eas­i­ly access, Fer­gu­son says. It would no longer be pos­si­ble for tribes to access those records if the mate­ri­als were shipped to Cal­i­for­nia or Mis­souri, as NARA is plan­ning to do at OMB’s direction.

“Although I hope to avoid lit­i­ga­tion, my team is prepar­ing to take legal action to defend access to these impor­tant his­tor­i­cal records and pre­vent your agency’s unlaw­ful deci­sion from tak­ing effect,” Fer­gu­son warned the fed­er­al agencies.

“Please respond no lat­er than close of busi­ness on Wednes­day, March 18th, 2020 with your assur­ance that the records housed at the Seat­tle facil­i­ty will remain in Wash­ing­ton State,” Fer­gu­son added. “I am open to meet­ing with you between now and March 18th in order to have a direct con­ver­sa­tion about resolv­ing these issues and keep­ing these records in Wash­ing­ton State.”

You can read Fer­gu­son’s let­ter in its entire­ty below:

Let­ter by Bob Fer­gu­son to OMB and PBRB

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