2007/04/14

Update on missing White House emails

Well, the WaPo is asserting in its latest editorial that, aw gee, the White House members who "lost" up to five million emails (For some context, the Clinton White House left 30 million emails to posterity) were just...well, golly gee, they were just uncertain as to what the correct policy really was. It's all just a big, silly misunderstanding. Of course, as Dan Froomkin pointed out earlier, he had the White House spokesman, Dan Stanzel read him the relevant portions of the White House email policy over the phone and I agree with Froomkin, the policy appears quite simple and straightforward to me.

Says Senator Leahy:

"'[The White House says] they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!' said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., of e-mails that the White House had said a day earlier might be lost. 'You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers. Those e-mails are there, they just don't want to produce them. It's like the infamous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes.'"

Glenn Greenwald first examines 11 instances where possibly-incriminating documents, i.e., paper records, emails, videotapes and DVDs just "suddenly" and "mysteriously" disappear just when investigators would like to get a hold of them. He then quotes from a post by Anonymous Liberal:

"As an attorney who deals with subpoenas and requests for electronic documents on a regular basis, I can tell you that if a private entity--particularly one subject to legally mandated record keeping requirements--were to inform government investigators seeking such documents that they had been 'mishandled' and were now 'lost,' that entity would immediately find itself in a world of hurt and would be lucky if it survived the aftermath.

"No amount of talking would be enough to convince the authorities that there was an innocent explanation for the missing documents. They would be absolutely convinced that the 'mishandled' documents were intentionally destroyed in order to cover up wrongdoing."

And hey, it's not like the White House hasn't been, er, shall we say, creative, in coming up with reasons as to why they can't seem to produce documents in a timely manner:

"They waited, and waited. But the documents weren't delivered to the House and Senate Judiciary committees until this morning because — no joke — the Justice Department's copy machine broke.

"As if the broken copier weren't enough, something even worse happened: the DOJ's computer server went down this morning just as agency officials were trying to email around 2,000 pages worth of documents to Capitol Hill.

"But wait, that's not all! After the server went down, the car transporting hard copies of the documents to the Hill got a flat tire."

Yeah, what's that old Jay Leno line? "Things that make you go 'hmmmm' ".

And firedoglake "translates" a communication from the White House attorney for us:

"Allow me to translate the legalese for you: Mr. Fielding is using felicitous language to tell Mssrs. Leahy and Conyers to go Cheney themselves. The President does not want them getting their hands on this information quickly due to, one would assume, the need to comb over every sentence for potentially politically damaging information contained therein, so that a WH strategy to counter it might be put into place. (Read: Rove would like his ass covered, thank you very much.)"

Oh, and what's up with one of the primary reasons given for firing the US Attorneys, i.e., that "Voter Fraud" (individuals voting either under the wrong names or when they're not entitled to, as an effort to sway elections) was rampant and was a problem serious enough to warrant vigorous prosecution? Well, er, um, not so much, actually. Roughly 120 million people voted in the 2004 election. How many voter fraud cases have been successfully prosecuted? A whopping grand total of 86.

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