National Issues National Politics

Depends on What You Mean by “Preserve”


Today appears to be the morning for focusing (again)
on the Bush adminstration’s belief that it doesn’t have to play by any rules it doesn’t like.

Before you read the following clips from this morning’s Washington Post, remember that not one but TWO
federal statutes require that presidential communications, including e-mails involving senior White House aides, to be preserved for the nation’s historical record. Okay, now read and cringe:

E-mail messages sent and received by White House personnel during the first three years of the Bush administration were routinely recorded on tapes that were “recycled,” the White House’s chief information officer said in a court filing this week.

During the period in question, the Bush presidency faced some of its biggest controversies, including the Iraq war, the leak of former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson’s name and the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said he has no reason to believe any e-mails were deliberately destroyed. [HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-ha-ha-ha-ha]

From 2001 to October 2003, the White House’s practice was to use the same backup tape each day to copy new as well as old e-mails, he said, making it possible that some of those e-mails could still be recovered even from a tape that was repeatedly overwritten. “We are continuing to analyze our systems,” Fratto said last night.


Although the White House said in the filing that its practice of recording over the tapes ceased after October 2003, it added that even some e-mails transmitted through the end of 2005 might not have been fully preserved. “At this stage, this office does not know” whether additional e-mails are missing, said the affidavit filed minutes before a court-ordered deadline of midnight Tuesday night by Theresa Payton, chief information officer in the White House Office of Administration.

The White House disclosure was filed with the D.C. District Court in response to a lawsuit filed by two advocacy groups, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive, which alleged that millions of e-mail messages sent between 2003 and 2005 are missing from White House servers.

Anne L. Weismann, chief counsel for the ethics group made the observation that, “these are not the steps of a White House committed to preserving records or meeting its obligations under the law.”

Ya think?

Oh, yeah, and there’s this:

In a related controversy, House investigators have determined that hundreds of thousands of e-mails from former presidential adviser Karl Rove and other White House aides are missing because they were sent using external accounts set up by the Republican National Committee.

Listen, I’m sure it’s all the interest of national security.

Alright, I’m now off for my first day of torturing …er….teaching USC journalism students. Wish me luck!


  • What do they care? Nancy took Impeachment “off the Table” and won’t even allow hearing in the HJC to see if any high crimes or misdemeanors have been committed. And Bush will pardon one and all before he leaves office. So long suckers!

  • uneffingbelievable. The Democrats in Congress have no spine. This is outrageous. There should be protesters on Capitol Hill daily, with pickets and bullhorns. There is NO excuse for this Administration’s mendacity. These people are treacherous, and apparently believe the American public is Poo-Poo The Fool.

  • Good luck on teaching the students after you un-teach them what lefty professors have already put in their brains. Ask them why they are studying journalism. If anyone says to change the world or make a difference, kick them out of the class. There are more appropriate places to change the world. Journalism students should learn to present unbiased information. If anyone answers that they want to make a lot of money, kick them out, too, for being so stupid.

    On the article, without proof of a cover-up, I’ll cut the administration some slack. With proof, I’d say that they would have been stupid to leave the tapes around.

  • Meanwhile, all of our emails and searches are stored by service providers like Yahoo, Google etc. for at least 6 mos., and can be turned over to the gov’t at any time; ditto our movie choices and pay per view rentals, phone records; even grocery store and bank records. These are also for sale to anyone with a couple of bucks for “marketing purposes,” and on the internet — some of this data for free, others for sale to any and all for maybe ten bucks (tho hackers get it for free, especially the more crooked the easier they get it for fraud.)

    When people are so dumb and naive as to let this proliferate without so much as a peep — except from a few watchdog groups who are generally ignored even by libs, especially by journalists, under the b.s. rubric “the public’s right to know” — then the public and journalists have played right into this. Whoever controls the government controls this info (and can block their own), because everyone has already turned that right over to gov’t (and even Big Brother Co’s.)

  • Maybe if I were one of the officers with the LAPD being asked to give full financial disclosure, I’d be conveniently losing personal information that I consider no one else’s business. Maybe journalists should give full disclosure.

  • O/T Celeste but over at “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” (one of my faves BTW for quoting the late, great Warren Zevon) is word of a report on the incarceration of juvinile offenders – i.e. kids. Human Rights Watch reports that they could find SEVEN juviniles sentenced to life in the rest of the world. The number in the State of California?


    As the reporter at LGM notes, we are an Outlier. A way-outlier!

  • I can’t find RLC’s cited number of youth lifers, but I’m almost certain that it’s wrong. The Amnesty USA report notes a total of 12 in Israel, South Africa, and Tanzania. I did notice that the number of youth lifers in California is 180 and not 227 as Lawyers, Guns, and Money states (RLC committed a typo). Obviously you can still make a very strong case that the US is over-incarcerating young people, but those numbers are incorrect.

    In my brief look at the report I found it shocking that 59% of the kids were first time offenders (though obviously these were mostly extremely serious offenses), “and that nearly half of the 146 youth surveyed by the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan in 2004 were sentenced to life without parole for felony murder or for ‘aiding and abetting’ a murder in which another person pulled the trigger.” Pretty convincing that we’re throwing the book and kids who made terrible mistakes but aren’t necessarily hardened criminals.

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