Friday, April 13, 2007

Bush Administration Literally Commits Millions of Crimes

For many decades, someone in the White House has had the responsibility to make sure records are preserved. Given the games that Richard Nixon played, a law was passed that required that presidents and their advisers keep track of their phone calls and correspondence. They are doing the public's business. There are times when a president conveniently claims executive privilege and that may fly or not, but on political matters there can be no executive privilege and there can be no such privilege when a White House official such as Karl Rove extensively uses e-mail accounts from the White House through the National Republican Committee (RNC). There are red flags all over the place on the issue. We know, for example, that convicted felon Jack Abramoff was using RNC accounts to discuss things with Rove's assistants at the White House.

The idea that Rove 'accidentally' lost his e-mails is just another cookie caper: "But I thought those were just old cookies in the cookie jar so I stored them by the trash can; I never imagined anyone would throw them out. I know what you're thinking! Honest, I didn't eat them! Anyway, the trash has already been taken so I can't possibly be guilty." Sure. Right. It's special prosecutor time.

Paul Kiel of TPM Muckraker has a transcript of a White House press briefing; here's the part I'd like to discuss a moment:
Dana Perino gave an explanation of sorts:
(snip)

I don't have a specific number for you. Again, I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million emails lost, but we'll see if we can get to you. If it was 5 million, I think that, again, out of 1,700 people using email every day, again, there was no intent to have lost them.

(snip)

Now, one of the things that occurred -- and we're also trying to figure out how many emails possibly could be sent by 1,700 employees on a daily basis. I don't know if the numbers are staggering. My inbox is staggering so -- we'll work to find that out. But there was a conversion sometime between 2002 and 2003 to convert people that were using Lotus Notes when we first arrived to Microsoft Outlook. And I know that the tech people worked to get us all transferred over. We had to save our Word documents and all to make sure that they weren't lost in that transition.

I don't have a specific number for you. Again, I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million emails lost, but we'll see if we can get to you. If it was 5 million, I think that, again, out of 1,700 people using email every day, again, there was no intent to have lost them.

Five million e-mails by 1700 employees is not all that much. Assume six years in office and 250 work days for each year; over six years, that's 1500 workdays. If each employee only writes 2 e-mails a day, that over five million. We actually could be talking about a much higher number.

But here's something to consider: there appears to have been no effort made to make sure the e-mails were preserved. Perino's story ignores the obvious problem: no one apparently bothered to make sure the White House and other officials were complying with the law. That in itself raises legal issues. Whoever is in charge of records keeping is in trouble. Whoever the White House counsel is who handles such matters (such as making sure staffers comply with the laws that apply to the White House) is in trouble (hey, does that include Alberto Gonzales again?).

The fact that RNC accounts outside the White House system existed can only be explained as an attempt to deceive Congress, various watchdog agencies and the American people. Across the board, including laws involving other matters, the number of laws that Bush and his advisers are breaking and the number of times they have been doing it is staggering. We must face the fact that criminality in the executive branch, particularly when political appointees such as Karl Rove are involved, is now extensive. Congress must act and the media needs to recognize we have a problem.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

The emails have not been lost. Copies are out there on many, many servers. It's the nature of the e-beast and it's naiveté in the extreme for Bushies to think a) that the messages really have been disappeared (if in fact they really believe this at all, which one has to doubt from the git-go) or b) for anyone at all to buy this phony story.

Plus ça change, as they long ago wearied of saying, la plus c'est la même chose...

Sic the 'appropriate authorities' on the bastids. Whoever (those authorities) may be.

OR????

4:35 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I'm think they not only haven't "lost" all those e-mails, I'm sure they've done their best to destroy as many of them as possible.

I would like to see the FBI descend on the White House and RNC HQ in force, subpoenas in hand, to impound computers, disks and other media, and any related written records they can get their hands on.

The only thing more soul satisfying would be seeing Karl Rove and Dick Cheney frog-walked to waiting vehicles, being brought in for interrogation before being formally arrested on obstruction of justice charges.

As for Bush, I have my doubts he's savvy enough to deal with Outlook Express on a regular basis, or curious enough to learn how.

4:13 PM  

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