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"This sounds like the administration's version of the dog ate my homework"
April 12, 2007 8:14 AM   Subscribe


 
This is way worse than the 18 minute gap. At least there you had plausible deniability. It is in fact possible (not that I believe for a minute that this really happened) to accidentally erase a tape. But how do you accidentally delete an email from the Sent folder on machine A AND all the Inbox folders on machines B-Z?
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


More info about the forensics, very lively discussion of IT aspect here.
posted by sweet mister at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2007


AND all the quotes in replies?

And, hell, what about all the damn replies to begin with?
posted by Malor at 8:23 AM on April 12, 2007


they need to get the servers themselves, and the NSA intercepts of all RNC communication on those addresses. This is appalling, and stupid of them. They're again violating the law, and admitting it. This is destruction of evidence, and ignoring the Presidential Records Act. RICO's probably involved too.

And many of the headlines are just wrong--the emails aren't "missing"--they were deleted/destroyed/erased.

LA Times today: Officials' e-mail may be missing, White House says--...Loss of the e-mail files would create a potential legal problem for the Bush White House: compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which was passed in 1978 in response to the Watergate scandal that enveloped Richard M. Nixon's presidency. The law was designed to ensure that presidential papers were preserved for historical and investigative purposes.

Rove's operation appears to have gone much further. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:23 AM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


Not to mention the fact that by default, Outlook doesn't actually delete anything. It just moves it to a Deleted Items folder.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:23 AM on April 12, 2007


I bet we'll find that the NSA doesn't collect any RNC or GOP email at all. Watch and see.
posted by amberglow at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2007


Didn't they start using RNC email accounts in order to get around the PRA requirements?

It's just so much fun watching people shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2007


And--this will actually mean that the people involved in the WH must come and testify, since they are not producing the required documents. There's no other way for hearings to proceed.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2007


The server serves at the pleasure of the president.
posted by phaedon at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2007 [25 favorites]


"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.

is this -- technically, I mean -- true? is there such a thing as an unrecoverable e-mail?
posted by matteo at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The best news here of course is that it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt (in the public mind, not legally) that they did something very, very wrong.
posted by DU at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2007


an incredibly poorly-written, and poorly-spun article at NYT: Bush Advisers’ Approach on E-Mail Draws Fire
--... Other messages have brought scrutiny as well, including exchanges between Susan Ralston, a former assistant to Mr. Rove, and Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted of corruption charges.

Ms. Ralston apparently preferred to e-mail Mr. Abramoff and associates on her national committee Blackberry. In one exchange, Mr. Abramoff and a colleague worried about an e-mail message that wound up in the White House system.

“Dammit,” Mr. Abramoff wrote, “it was sent to Susan on her rnc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system.”

At issue is how the White House complies with two seemingly competing laws. One is the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which requires the administration to ensure that its decisions and deliberations are “adequately documented” and that records flowing out of those decisions are preserved.

The other is the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from engaging in political business on government time. ...


Those laws don't compete at all--1) You're not allowed to do political business on government time. 2) All WH business must be documented and preserved, no matter whether it's political or policy (which is the exact same thing in this administration).

They broke both those laws knowingly.
posted by amberglow at 8:35 AM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's the same dumbass public that elected them in the first place DU.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:36 AM on April 12, 2007


Public mind? I thought the 2004 elections proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the American public lacks a mind. Or was that the electioneering leaving a false impression?

Of course, this sort of crap is perfectly understandable, given that America has exported all its remaining democracy.

If the news media would only get its shit together, they'd realize that this stuff beats hell out of 'reality' TV. More suds! Better soap opera!
posted by Goofyy at 8:38 AM on April 12, 2007


Sorry, I didn't mean "public mind" as in "voters" (although that's true to some extent to, 2004 notwithstanding). I mean politically-aware bloggers, columnists, discussion groups, etc. For instance: I challenge any Republican/conservative MeFite to come forward and try to defend the claim that you could "accidentally delete" an email discussion from multiple computers like this. It's untenable.
posted by DU at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2007


"You can't erase e-mails, not today. They've gone through too many servers," said Leahy, D-Vt.

This is a rather silly comment from someone who doesn't really understand how email works.

The only server that matters is the ultimate destination for the email. That said, given that many people read their email exclusively through a browser, and most email clients default to never deleting anything, the most likely default case is that emails sit on the server forever.

On the other hand, if they were devious enough to avoid using White House servers, it's entirely likely that they were devious enough to have set the email accounts to automatically delete old messages after a short period of time.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2007


(And, Republican/conservative challenge-taker-uppers, while you are struggling to find a way that Bush is still a Golden Boy in re: emails, you might ask yourself if he'd lie about this what other things he lied about. Maybe the WMDs got "accidentally deleted" too?)
posted by DU at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2007


I'm interested to know if the traffic to and from the RNC servers was encrypted. It seems unlikely to me but I might be wrong. If it wasn't, and if they were doing *any* gummint biznis using the RNC servers, then it was being transmitted in plaintext and could be snooped on at any of the hop points.

Another interesting part of this is that the geeks and sysadmins who ran the whole shebang are quite unlikely to be 'loyal Bushies' and may in fact co-operate quite willingly with Leahy et al.
posted by sweet mister at 8:44 AM on April 12, 2007


and from that NYT article: ...Asked if he had any evidence that officials were intentionally using the national committee accounts to circumvent record-keeping requirements, Mr. Stanzel said he had not interviewed White House aides about how they made decisions on e-mail accounts.

“I can’t speak to people’s individual e-mail practices,” he said. “I think the best we can say is were trying to do a comprehensive review.”


This is simply a lie and the reporter knows it--Bush and others have publicly stated they used other email accounts to evade subpoenas and the Hatch Act. That she didn't include it in the article is pathetic.

And the WH lied about archiving just a few weeks ago: White House Falsely Claimed RNC Emails Were Archived, Only ‘Handful’ Of Staffers Had Accounts
posted by amberglow at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, if they were devious enough to avoid using White House servers, it's entirely likely that they were devious enough to have set the email accounts to automatically delete old messages after a short period of time.

read the 'struggles to explain' link in the post. you pretty much summed it up.
posted by phaedon at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2007


Josh Marshall:
I feel really bad about the server problems the White House/RNC seems (no, not a typo -- they appear to be a single entity) to be having on the email front. Believe me, I run a small business that is heavily dependent on cranky servers and other gizmos. So I know how hard this can be. But I think this might be a case where that NSA 'terrorist surveillance program' may really come in handy. I'm told the NSA has some very capable data recovery tools they've developed. And even if those guys are too busy hunting al Qaida, doesn't the FBI have some pretty good forensic computer geeks? What happens when, say, a company like Enron (okay, perhaps not a great example) says some emails were 'mishandled' and now are gone forever. I guess that's just the end of it, right? Normally, it's not kosher for a government agency to offer direct assitance to a private entity or political organization. But, hey, we're pretty far down that road I guess. So let's have the FBI go down and take a look at these servers and see if these emails have really disappeared forever.
Btw, check out this fantastic explanation of the bogus "voter fraud" bullshit that, most likely got the USA's fried. Also in the NYT
posted by delmoi at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


is this -- technically, I mean -- true? is there such a thing as an unrecoverable e-mail?

matteo, speaking as an IT professional who has actually had to do this, there's no one single answer.

If you are trying to recover one specific e-mail, say the one that went out with a suspected incorrect copy of a contract, in my experience, you will utterly fail to find that one e-mail in a working copy over half the time. If you are trying to find all the e-mails where people wish each other happy birthday and advertise free puppies, you'll find more than you need.

Anyway, the point is that the usual e-mail chain goes:
* Sender PC
* Sender server
* Receiver server
* Receiver PC
.... so there are potentially four machines on which you can find a copy. The servers are the ones that they instituted the 30-day deletion rule on (later changed), which is reasonable IT practice unless you have stuff you're supposed to save by law as in the financial or medical industries. In those cases you have very deliberate, ironclad, triply redundant backup procedures.

I strongly doubt that the PCs at either end had periodic deletion -- in practice, most people's Outlook folders just fill up indefinitely until they get a new PC issued.

The idea that a bunch of pols magically understood how to clean out their Outlook folders by themselves and did so regularly is a real stretch. I know that only about 1% of users I've ever encountered had a real understanding of Outlook.
posted by dhartung at 8:45 AM on April 12, 2007 [9 favorites]




This thread needs more Imus. /sarcasm
posted by HyperBlue at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2007


The idea that a bunch of pols magically understood how to clean out their Outlook folders by themselves and did so regularly is a real stretch.

I don't think this is true--many people know to delete from their "Sent" folders, and Rove certainly did, i'm betting. There are also size limits on many corporate Outlook accounts that force you to periodically clean out the folders. If they had emailed that Powerpoint thing they sent to the GSA (and other agencies?) for instance, it would have clogged their accounts due to size. Sending files and attachments back and forth would have meant they certainly would have deleted stuff themselves.
posted by amberglow at 8:55 AM on April 12, 2007


delmoi, the "voter fraud" thing is probably the most compelling example of the politicization of the Justice Department. In the wake of the '00 and '04 elections they've been diligently pursuing allegations of voter fraud... against individual democrats, minorities and felons who may have filled out a card improperly or shown up at the wrong place. NOT against Ohio Sec'y of State Blackwell, NOT against Jeb and Katherine's Florida, NOT against Diebold and ES&S, NOT against a half-dozen or more long-shot Republicans in various states who trailed hugely in every poll up to and including the exit polls and yet somehow won their elections handily -- invariably on paperless touchscreen machines.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2007 [5 favorites]


I know that "Surely this..." has fallen out of favor as a catchphrase, but man, it sure feels that way.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Froomkin nails it.
posted by sweet mister at 9:05 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Most people have files on their personal machines so they can view their email offline. Even if the emails and associated files were deleted, I would assume one would be able to recover said files from at least some of those machines. Or am I missing something?
posted by batou_ at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2007


The "loss" of these emails is going to require a lot of covering up. The inability to easily recover them will mean that the RNC had no backup policies and no archiving strategy both at the client and server level. This is possible given how incompetent republicans have proven to be at actually doing stuff. The inability to recover deleted materials, given the current state of the art of data recovery and the slime like trails left by email, will require that they were actively using data destroying overwriting techniques.

I expect major whistle blowing by underlings on this one.
posted by srboisvert at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


from that Froomkin thing (which is great): ... Stanzel also described another recent change; White House staffers no longer have the ability to delete their RNC e-mail under any circumstances.

Among the many questions Stanzel ducked was this one from me: Had this never come up as an issue in the previous six years? Had no one ever raised a concern about such an obvious evasion of the most basic White House document-preservation rules? Stanzel wouldn't say. ...


They're locking the henhouse door only now, when it's crystal-clear the policies won't be violated anymore.
posted by amberglow at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2007


George: Yup.

Amberglow: Maybe, but if you look at every desktop that the emails were sent from or too you'll probably find something. Plus, if people were using web mail you could potentially find emails in their cache.

Even if the files really were deleted the data could still be all over the place. Did Coptix ever do any backups, like most ISPs would? What happens when you pull the tape?

There are just so many places where the data can end up, and even if they were deleted off a hard drive they can still be partially recovered via an analog recovery process. I found this article (nothing on wikipedia). But it is possible to do. It's the reason why programs like whredit for windows exist. To make data unrecoverable, you need to not only delete it, but overwrite the drive with random data again and again. (Think of a hard drive like a whiteboard. You can write and erase text, but you can still make out impressions of older markings)

Now, In theory they may have been using the disks over and over again, and it's possible the data might really be unrecoverable, but I doubt it. And I can't see how you could use a program like shreddit "accidentally"
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on April 12, 2007


Even if the emails themselves are in fact gone, there would be sendmail or postfix or whatever they use logs on the server showing timestamp, sender, and receiver for each and every email. I don't know how useful this information would be in an investigation, but it's at least a start.
posted by afx114 at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


also, Gonzales was WH Counsel--he was in charge of enforcement of retention policies, no? Wasn't he involved in that delay of documents from the Plame thing too?
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2007


Most people have files on their personal machines so they can view their email offline. Even if the emails and associated files were deleted, I would assume one would be able to recover said files from at least some of those machines. Or am I missing something?

Depends of if they are using POP or IMAP, most likely.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 AM on April 12, 2007


If only I'd completed my ninja training! I'd be on a plan right now to pinch Karl Rove's Blackberry. God, it'd be sweet if the AP were to lay their hands on that thing.

DU - Still waiting on a Bushie to defend this latest crime. I'm personally hoping the jackass who shit in the Kurt Vonnegut thread last night takes up the challenge.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:18 AM on April 12, 2007


"I am deeply disturbed that just when this administration is finally subjected to meaningful oversight, it cannot produce the necessary information."

I know this is just posturing, but anyone who is 'deeply disturbed' by this hasn't been paying attention to this administration's modus operandi.

Their motto has been; if you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. So let's use the tools in place (FBI forensic recovery, etc) to take a closer look, and see what they are afraid of.
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


White House staffers no longer have the ability to delete their RNC e-mail under any circumstances

it was Ted Stevens's idea
posted by matteo at 9:24 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Like Rove would ever ever ever surrender his crackberry or any other machines.

Why can't these people just be arrested? Why can't cops go there with arrest warrants and grab stuff and them? They admit they break laws over and over. Publicly.
posted by amberglow at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Can some white hat break into Rove's RNC blackberry and get to the information that desperately wants to be free?
posted by drezdn at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2007


(I've had CNN on since 9 and haven't seen one single thing about this)
posted by amberglow at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2007


batou_ Nope, you've got it exactly right. As dhartung pointed out there are going to be a minimum of four machines where the email was written to a hard drive.

Recovering deleted files is somewhat chancy, it largely depends on how much information is written to the drive following the deletion. If you searched all four (minimum) machines where the mail was written odds are pretty good you could recover.

However, given that the emails in question are supposed to have been archived it seems *really* unlikely that they're gone by accident.

I'll also second the comments about people not emptying Outlook trash bins. Most people don't even know that its possible, much less how to do it. Not that its hard, its simply that most people don't think about it, they hit "delete", the mail disappears from the inbox, and that's that as far as Joe Average is concerned.
posted by sotonohito at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2007


If any of these messages went to someone’s Blackberry, I bet RIM has an archived backup.
posted by ijoshua at 9:28 AM on April 12, 2007


amberglow - all the more reason to get the Oburo clan involved .... *sigh*
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2007


Why don't presidents destroy records all the time? I've never understood that. Sure, there's a penalty, but wouldn't the rewards outweigh it?
posted by futility closet at 9:33 AM on April 12, 2007


Being pardoned counts as a penalty?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:36 AM on April 12, 2007


So much outrage from liberals over this, and yet, I don't recal them being nearly as vocal about Sandy "Pants" Berger or the Whitewater docs.

hmmm.
posted by tadellin at 9:37 AM on April 12, 2007


I'd be on a plan right now to pinch Karl Rove's Blackberry.

I don't know what "pinching Karl Rove's blackberry" is a euphemism for, but I don't want to think about it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:40 AM on April 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


I don't suppose any of these jackasses ever heard of a backup tape?
posted by Dave Faris at 9:42 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


So much outrage from liberals over this, and yet, I don't recal them being nearly as vocal about Sandy "Pants" Berger or the Whitewater docs.

Sandy Berger plead guilty, and paid his (quite small) debt to society. What exactly is there to discuss?

It's pretty obvious that the scope is not at all the same. There's no evidence to suggest that Berger was trying to hide information, only take copies of it. (maybe to leak to the press, or maybe just to go over at home)

On the other hand, the U.S. Attorney gate involves dozens of people, destruction of evidence (as opposed to copying classified stuff) and obstruction of justice. far greater crimes, obviously. No one went to jail on trumped up charges because of Sandy Berger, and no criminals avoided prosecution because of him.
posted by delmoi at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2007


So much outrage from liberals over this, and yet, I don't recal them being nearly as vocal about Sandy "Pants" Berger or the Whitewater docs.

If they aren't doing anything wrong, they have nothing to fear.

good for the goose..good for the gander?
posted by HyperBlue at 9:48 AM on April 12, 2007


That's the defense? It's OK for Bush to destroy evidence because of...Sandy Berger?
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whitewater

Finally! No Bush administration scandal is complete without a wingnut complaining about Clinton.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:49 AM on April 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Over the years I've handled email discovery for a few lawsuits here at Big Unnamed Company, Inc and we're not held to nearly the same retention standards as the White House. For them to be unable to recover at least something from the thousands of emails in question, they'd have to be lacking even the most basic safeguards and somehow I doubt that's the case.

Admittedly, it would be an easy enough matter for me to make sure such a search was fruitless, but it certainly wouldn't happen by accident.
posted by JaredSeth at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2007


c'mon, Bushies, that's the best you got? That this is comparable to Whitewater? Jeez, you wingnuts disappoint me. At least work in something about Vince Foster!
posted by scody at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Video: Leahy says White House is lying about lost emails.

Text of Leahy’s prepared remarks.

Senate Judiciary Committee authorizes subpoenas.
"Moments ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee authorized Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), in consultation with Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), to issue subpoenas for more Justice Dept. documents related to the U.S. Attorney scandal."
posted by ericb at 9:52 AM on April 12, 2007


I can't speak for the emails sent to/from RNC accounts, but I do know that all emails sent to/from any address ending in @whitehouse.gov are backed up to tape. There is no opportunity for individuals to delete these emails.

Going through the thousands and thousands of backup tapes to extract all of those emails is another story. The same problem arose during the Clinton impeachment when it was discovered that the online email archival system was faulty, and they had to resort to going through each one of the thousands of tapes to pull the emails off. I'm not comparing the scope of this to the Clinton thing, just the technical similarities.
posted by BigVACub at 9:57 AM on April 12, 2007


bu..bbut CLINTON!
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:57 AM on April 12, 2007


The same problem arose during the Clinton impeachment when it was discovered that the online email archival system was faulty, and they had to resort to going through each one of the thousands of tapes to pull the emails off.

Well I bet they made the effort then, and over far less, they should make a similar effort now.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2007


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 ... 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 rightfully so. One of the first things you learn as a litigator is that emails live forever. They can almost always be retrieved.
posted by sweet mister at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Faint of Butt - don't you think we'd all be in a little less hot water had Rove gotten his blackberry pinched more often in school? Maybe that milkbaby wouldn't be such an evil fuck had he gotten a little more tail? I like to picture lil' Rove getting stood up for Prom - standing on some girl's front stoop, corsage in hand, watching some square-jawed young progressive drive off with the little beatnik girl he had a crush on all semester.

I really do wonder what secret pain fuels this fucker's motives. Mere greed doesn't explain the unrelenting evil.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:09 AM on April 12, 2007


This morning's WH press gaggle advanced the story some.

The RNC automagically deleted White House staffers' emails after 30 days until 2004. After that they didn't, but the staffers apparently still had the ability to.

According to WH spokesman Scott Stanzel:
what you're talking about is the user's ability, if they are sitting at their laptop, and decide that, 'gosh, I've got a hundred emails here that I just -- are cluttering up my inbox, I want to put them in the deleted file, and I right-click the deleted items to empty my deleted file.' It's possible, possible, that those records could have been lost....
So the RNC didn't purge its own records after 2004.

Therefore, if they kept backups, it's all there.

From the sounds of it, the RNC ran an IMAP system with the emails held on a central server. There is no doubt at all that this would have been backed up. How far do the backups go back? Was there POP access? Were messages cached on the users' local machines?

I'm beginning to agree with everyone who says there are only two possibilities here:

1. The emails really are gone, which means it was provably deliberate

2. The emails aren't really gone, and this is a stalling/obfuscation tactic

As someone pointed out on one of the blogs, Leahy et al need to get as many staffers into the committee to testify under oath as soon as possible before the ultimate fate of the emails becomes known, since they will not know how well-covered their tracks are, and in a potentially bottomless perjury trap if they lie.
posted by sweet mister at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


tadellin - how long until the RNC's Free Crime Pass earned during the Clinton years runs out, exactly? I would have thought the PATRIOT act and the Iraq war would have gobbled up the last of their Do Whatever the Fuck you Want points, but apparently decade-old misdeeds still justify today's behavior.

So do they get one, maybe two more gigantic, power-drunk scandals before they've maxed out their moral credit? Do we get to start holding them to account then? I'm pretty sure the last tenants of my apartment cooked meth. That clears me to beat up a couple hookers, right? I mean, the LAST guy did some bad stuff, so ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe that milkbaby wouldn't be such an evil fuck had he gotten a little more tail? I really do wonder what secret pain fuels this fucker's motives.

"There was a little girl across the street who was Catholic and found out I was for Nixon, and she was avidly for Kennedy. She put me down on the pavement and whaled on me and gave me a bloody nose. I lost my first political battle."*

-- Karl Rove [Desert News interview | Desert News, December 8, 2002].

"I was the complete nerd. I had the briefcase. I had the pocket protector. I wore Hush Puppies when they were not cool. I was the thin, scrawny little guy. I was definitely uncool."*

-- Karl Rove [NPR interview | June 13, 2006].
posted by ericb at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


1. The emails really are gone, which means it was provably deliberate

2. The emails aren't really gone, and this is a stalling/obfuscation tactic


These really are the only two possibilities.

I work as a programmer in litigation support, and this sort of thing is what our electronic discovery guys and forensics specialists do all day long: recover peoples' emails they were sure no one would ever see, extract and index the text, then hand them over to reviewers who use key-word searches to pinpoint the smoking gun for production as evidence in court.

Unless the emails were carefully and deliberately destroyed by someone who new exactly what they were doing, they can be recovered. There is no such thing as an accidentally "lost" email.
posted by trip and a half at 10:33 AM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


White House Aide #1: Man, there sure is a lot of incriminating stuff in all those emails we sent around. WTF are we going to do about that.

White House Aide #2: I know! We can delete it and say it accident!

White House Aide #1: That's brilliant! No one really knows how computers work anyway, and that kind of stuff happens all the time! I heard about one guy who thought that the Internet was made up of tubes! Ha ha! And my mom once deleted her whole "My Photos" folder once.

White House Aide #2: Yeah, I did that once too! You wouldn't believe how easy that is!
posted by moonbiter at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


White House Aide #2: I know! We can delete it and say it accident!

I bet it wasn't even aides. Wasn't it Nixon himself that tried to edit the tapes? They can't farm this stuff out to underlings, at least not at too low a level. That much blatant illegality has been known to make the koolaid taste funny.
posted by DU at 10:41 AM on April 12, 2007


watching some square-jawed young progressive drive off with the little beatnik girl he had a crush on all semester.

Heh. Though if the Gannon rumors are true, he would have been more jealous of the girl than the guy.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:42 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I bet it wasn't even aides. Wasn't it Nixon himself ...

Hey, hey, HEY now! Let's not go pointing fingers!

Besides, I think Nixon is dead.
posted by moonbiter at 10:46 AM on April 12, 2007


Glad to see tadellin still around, hanging on by his chipped, withered fingernails as the very earth falls out from below his feet, reciting the same tried and tired mantra. You got spunk, kid, I'll give you that. But not much else.
posted by NationalKato at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Couple things to share on this...

  • White House "Official" technology and communications support comes from outside the Executive Office of the President and is done by the WHCA - the White House Commnications Agency - which is in the DOD under DISA - the Defense Information Systems Agency. For your various FOIA needs.

  • IIRC, the original email gap was 18-days, which was when (presumably) the WH, RNC, and USDOJ went to the parallel system (nice bit of history repeating with the 18-minute gap).


  • These missing emails have "turned up before" under duress when a certain pasty, chubby, balding political operative made his FIFTH appearance before a Grand Jury in the Plame Affair. 250-pages worth. From the VP's office. Which allowed Rove to throw Scooter under the bus.

  • You may similarly recall reports of Rove's (home) garage being "typical" by our diligent friends in the MSM, also noting that there were several boxes in his garage - again, presumably numbered 1-7, with boxes 1-3 as well as 5 missing (surrendered to Fitz) and 4, 6, and 7 still present.

  • Here's what Fitz had to say in a letter regarding email retention and archiving:
    We are aware of no evidence pertinent to the charges against defendant Libby which has been destroyed. In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.
    Note that this was regarding emails missing from 2003, reported in 2006. Of course, this policy changed post 2004. I'd be curious to see what those emails said in 2002.

  • posted by rzklkng at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2007


    ericb - He doesn't get to call himself a nerd. We won't TAKE him. At least he solved that nagging "thin, scrawny" problem in the intervening years. Now, let's track down that Catholic girl and pin a medal on her.
    posted by EatTheWeak at 10:52 AM on April 12, 2007


    bah. i'm sure they have dummy servers set up pumping phony backdated emails in and out of themselves 24/7 since the inauguration in 2001. you can make a computer lie about anything. all this foofrah is just karl providing some in-house entertainment. "watch this, guys! before we hand over the phony exonerating email, i'm gonna say we accidently deleted it. check out these guys over at metafilter - LOL!"
    posted by quonsar at 11:04 AM on April 12, 2007


    "nerd" reminds me: There are a lot of libertarian programmer/IT types that voted R in 2000 and even 2004. Granted, most of them have been (or at least should have been) disenchanted with the many, many civil rights violations by this administration, but I bet such a transparent coverup as "we accidentally deleted the emails" isn't going to resonate too well either.

    It's one thing to thing to explain that your (de facto) party is the lesser of two evils but it's another to have to admit they are obviously outright lying.
    posted by DU at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2007


    OUTRAGEFILTER
    posted by prostyle at 11:09 AM on April 12, 2007


    Now, let's track down that Catholic girl and pin a medal on her.

    That Catholic girl today? Valerie Plame! ; >
    posted by amberglow at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    IIRC, the original email gap was 18-days, which was when (presumably) the WH, RNC, and USDOJ went to the parallel system (nice bit of history repeating with the 18-minute gap).

    "Did you see what Gooood did to us, man!?"

    "God didn't do that, you did! You're a fucking narcotics agent, I knew it!"
    posted by spiderwire at 11:20 AM on April 12, 2007


    The last 4 years haven't so much been about screwups as about seeing just how much they can fuck with us and continue to get away with it.

    "OK, this'll be good. A plant in the White House press room asking fake questions."

    "Make him a gay prostitute!"

    [twitters]

    "How about a Congressman sending obscene IMs to House pages from the floor during a vote?"

    [raucous laughter]

    "Head of a major church gets outed by his gay hooker meth dealer?"

    "Funny, but the gay joke is getting old. At some point it's going to seem bigoted."

    "How about we accuse the Democrats of gay-bashing when they go after the Congressman?"

    "Brilliant!"

    "Have Trent Lott congratulate Strom Thurmond on his presidential political platform."

    "Let's put the guy running the Arabian Horse Judging Association in charge of FEMA."

    "What if there's a natural disaster or something?"

    "That's just situational irony!"

    "Let's invade a country and then staff the entire reconstruction agency with Young Republicans."

    "Maybe a Presidential advisor could get fired for shoplifting."

    "Wait! How about this? We send all of our emails through a totally illegal outside server, and then if the Democrats ask for them, we tell them we 'accidentally' deleted everything!"

    [more laughter]

    "So, would an 18-day gap in the emails be too obvious of a Watergate reference?"

    "Wait, wait, here's a good one: the Vice President accidentally shoots his best friend in the face, then the friend apologizes to him and his family."

    "What? That doesn't even make any sense."

    "It's absurdist humor!"

    "Hey, let's put one of the Iran-Contra guys in charge of the Homeland Security Agency."

    "OK, OK, everyone. Let's calm down now and get back to business, all right?"
    posted by spiderwire at 11:38 AM on April 12, 2007 [83 favorites]


    I should probably post this on AskMe, but do any of you have recommendations for a data-recovery service for me to buy stock in? That looks to be an excellent area to invest in right now.
    posted by adamrice at 11:40 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    ABC: 'Lost' emails should be recoverable
    “We do it every day of the week,” said Beryl Howell of Stroz Freidburg LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that specializes in recovering lost data for businesses complying with court orders, criminal investigators and others.

    ...

    Without knowing the technical details of how the emails were deleted, computer forensics expert Rob Lee said he couldn’t say with certainty if any of the communications are recoverable. But from his experience working with the FBI and other criminal investigators, he knows one thing: Unless the hard drives containing the emails were physically destroyed or lost, “the only way someone could claim something has been destroyed is if the emails themselves have been wiped” from a hard drive or tape backup, he said, “overwriting every piece of data.” That requires special software designed explicitly to cover any trace of deleted information.
    posted by sweet mister at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2007


    "how long until the RNC's Free Crime Pass earned during the Clinton years runs out, exactly?"

    Until Bush gets impeached, obvs.
    posted by klangklangston at 12:06 PM on April 12, 2007


    CREW: White House lost Over FIVE MILLION e-mails in two year period

    The 'Without a Trace' executive summary is published here, full PDF of the report here, exhibits here.
    posted by sweet mister at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Apparently this new scandal is now being referred to as DogAte.
    posted by sweet mister at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2007 [18 favorites]


    The best defense that you can come up with is that the other guys did it too (which is at best a very liberal [haha!] interpretation of what happened), ten years ago? I mean, you type that and you think that's a great riposte?
    posted by maxwelton at 12:11 PM on April 12, 2007


    If any of these messages went to someone’s Blackberry, I bet RIM has an archived backup.

    Here's the funny thing: all, and I do mean all, of RIM's email servers are up here in good ol' Canuckistan.
    posted by GuyZero at 12:14 PM on April 12, 2007


    So we FINALLY get to invade Canada? Awesome!
    posted by fingers_of_fire at 12:19 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Seems to me this is an open invitation to subpoena the servers, the PCs, the blackberries and dig, dig, dig, baby! Not to mention perjury traps for everybody who's gonna get subpoenaed.

    I do wonder what, exactly, is being covered up that they'd risk this sort of scrutiny. Is it just illegal firings? Or is it something bigger, such as election tampering or Iraq evidence manipulation?

    I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but I will probably die of irony exposure if the illegal CIA internet wiretaps prove to be their undoing...
    posted by LordSludge at 12:29 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


    I really didn't know Diebold made backup systems for computers too?

    Huh, who would have guessed.
    posted by fluffycreature at 12:33 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    klangklangston - I'm not clear on how impeachment functions. Can we impeach an entire administration? Just say "President Cheney" out loud a few times. Ick.

    maxwelton - I get the feeling he ran yelping from this thread some time ago.

    spiderwire - In my more paranoid moments, I wonder if this whole disastrous spectacle has been engineered so that we'll swallow Any Replacement At All out of sheer dread and bafflement.

    Were I some Zionist Freemason crypto-fascist Templar manipulating world events from a bunker beneath a volcano, I would seize power in 2008. In the wake of this administration, global mad scientist tyranny seems a well-reasoned alternative.
    posted by EatTheWeak at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Wow, Leahy actually used the word "lying." I don't think a lot of people realize how significant that is; it's like the F-bomb of DC rhetoric.

    Someone's pissed, and a whole lot of other people are going to jail.

    I just got an e-mail back from my friend who works encryption and security for Ernst & Young, and he confirmed that yeah, short of the White House hiring his office to destroy all those e-mails- which they didn't- they're full of shit. The data is there, even if they all deleted it.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:37 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Wow, Leahy actually used the word "lying." I don't think a lot of people realize how significant that is; it's like the F-bomb of DC rhetoric.

    Actually, I think telling someone to "go fuck yourself" is the F-bomb of DC rhetoric.

    Remember who was involved in that little exchange?
    posted by spiderwire at 12:39 PM on April 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


    So your saying your friend at Ernst & Young pretty much admits that they're in the business of destroying evidence?
    posted by Dave Faris at 12:39 PM on April 12, 2007


    I'm 100% fine with "President Cheney".

    1) He's running things right now anyway.
    2) He'd have no political capital whatsoever because
    a) of a recent impeachment
    b) his popularity is even worse than Bush's (not that he cares about that, but soon-to-be-in-election Republicans will)
    posted by DU at 12:41 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    (In my perfect world, Leahy sends a message to Cheney's office reading "I HAVE A GAVEL. HO HO HO.")
    posted by spiderwire at 12:42 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


    So much outrage from liberals over this, and yet, I don't recal them being nearly as vocal about Sandy "Pants" Berger or the Whitewater docs.


    I know he's trolling, but even for wingnuts, I don't get this logic. Sandy Berger was caught, tried, pled guilty, and sentenced. Why would I (or for that matter, our troll) be "outraged" about that? And why would he offer as a defense of what's going on now "Oh yeah? Well Clinton's crony violated the law... and justice was promptly served! So there!"

    If it wasn't for all your friends on RedState defending Don Imus on the grounds that Chris Rock uses bad language or something like that, tadellin, I'd say this is the dumbest argument I've heard this week.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:44 PM on April 12, 2007


    So your saying your friend at Ernst & Young pretty much admits that they're in the business of destroying evidence?

    No, they're in data security and hacker prevention (think "Sneakers." They actually do it). My point was they are experts; you would actually need to hire an firm like this to accomplish a wiping of data beyond recovery to the scope of several hundred RNC employees over six years.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2007


    Did Rove really think he could get away with such a lame excuse?

    "Well, shit, my cat jumped up on the keyboard and stepped on the delete key all our files got erased. Sorry 'bout that."
    posted by jefbla at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2007


    Tadellin: whitewater docs.

    WTF are you talking about? Whitewater turned out to be a case of made up nothing, no criminal wrongdoing found, none prosecuted.

    The Bushies cannot believe seriously that this will work. I'm sure some techs are down at RNC HQ now running disk wiping software.

    Good luck, boys. If email could be deleted forever, half the corporate litigation of the last decade would never have happened.

    Now, for support, someone needs to file an FIA request for all RNC-handled email that dealt with official government business. A cease and desist needs to be ordered for the IT staff and consultants at RNC HQ. And someone needs to lock up and run recovery software on every fucking hard drive Karl Rove ever looked at crooked.
    posted by spitbull at 12:54 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I think Rove hoped the Senate would be stupid enough to say "Oh, okay then."
    posted by Pope Guilty at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2007


    My point was they are experts; you would actually need to hire an firm like this to accomplish a wiping of data beyond recovery to the scope of several hundred RNC employees over six years.

    You think Rove doesn't have a firm like that on speed dial?
    posted by amberglow at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2007


    "Well, shit, my cat jumped up on the keyboard and stepped on the delete key all our files got erased. Sorry 'bout that."

    Actually, that's how you turn into Freakazoid.
    posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    So we FINALLY get to invade Canada? Awesome!

    We'll leave some lights on for you, but please put rubber treads on the tanks and for God's sake leave the chicken fried steaks at home.
    posted by CynicalKnight at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    My favorite part of this story:

    White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said there is no effort to keep the e-mails under wraps, and that the counsel's office is doing everything it can to find any that were lost.

    "The purpose of our review is to make every reasonable effort to recover potentially lost e-mails, and that is why we've been in contact with forensic experts," he said.

    Leahy scoffed.

    "I've got a teenage kid in my neighborhood that can go get 'em for them," he told reporters later.


    Heh.
    posted by NationalKato at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2007


    This seems as good a time as any to confess that I've had a little man crush on Leahy ever since this went down.
    posted by EatTheWeak at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2007


    So, retrieval of the emails aside, can't White House officials be indicted for doing official business on a non-secure and non-official server in any case?
    posted by Dave Faris at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2007


    klangklangston - I'm not clear on how impeachment functions. Can we impeach an entire administration? Just say "President Cheney" out loud a few times. Ick.

    We (or congress) can impeach any federal employee. Obviously impeachment would include Bush and Cheney both.
    posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on April 12, 2007


    As a non-American, could someone explain for me whether the explicit Nixon comparison is an unusually harsh one? (My local political culture is quite fond of hyperbole but I understand the American Senate is usually restrained and collegial in tone).
    posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2007


    Heh lost emails.

    You can't beat the house!
    posted by smackwich at 1:28 PM on April 12, 2007




    I see a couple of references to Outlook.
    I would assume these emails are not on Outlook.
    WHCA & EOP have always been full of IBM products. (remember Ollie North's deleted emails were on PROFS?)
    I'm pretty sure that whitehouse.gov- type accounts were on Lotus Notes (old info- I haven't been there for 6 years). I would expect the RNC to also be using high-priced stuff as well. Lotus is encrypted. Does anyone know if it's possible to decrypt stored Notes without a password?

    <Name dropping>some years back when I was at EOP, I went over and touched whitehouse.gov (back when it was a pentium- I assume it's all grown up now and in big racks)- don't tell anyone! </Name dropping>
    posted by MtDewd at 1:33 PM on April 12, 2007


    Comparing a sitting President to Nixon is extremely harsh, yes, though in the coming decades I expect that opprobrium to shift to Bush.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


    delmoi - so how do we go about issuing a blanket order, from Bush & his controllers all the way down to every dog catcher they ever appointed?
    posted by EatTheWeak at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    So, retrieval of the emails aside, can't White House officials be indicted for doing official business on a non-secure and non-official server in any case?


    There is no individual criminal penalty for violating the Presidential Records Act, so no. Disciplinary action including firing maybe, but no criminal penalty.

    However, obviously this RNC email system was there for the purpose of violating the Presidential Records Act (avoiding running afoul of the Hatch act made a nice cover story.) Since they were already setting up a way to make communications disappear down the memory hole, one would think they also already had a plan in place to make sure that they really do disappear. We'll see.
    posted by JAHxman at 1:41 PM on April 12, 2007


    What we need is a huge system that listens to all the traffic on the Internet, and archives all the mail and such that travels through the tubes. That way, in a situation like this, we can simply comb through the government mail archives...

    ...er...

    ...wait...

    [head asplodes]
    posted by davejay at 1:44 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    nixon is akin to dracula, and bush is making dracula look sympathetic.
    posted by bruce at 1:54 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I'm pretty sure that whitehouse.gov- type accounts were on Lotus Notes (old info- I haven't been there for 6 years).

    No shit? Lotus Notes is my bitch; it's what I've done for a living for about 10 years now. (Well, mostly application development, but I know a bit about admin & e-mail too.) Somebody do a telnet to mailhub-wh2.whitehouse.gov on port 25 and tell me what response you get. (My proxy at work only lets me out on port 80.) The default HELO message says something about Lotus Notes, IIRC.

    An interesting thing about Notes is that it's very well suited for mobile users, as it allows users to "replicate" databases -- that is, synchronize data between a local copy on their laptop and the server copy. It's great for mobile sales forces, for example, because they can do all their work while disconnected on the road, then sync up when they have a connection available.

    Notes Mail works the same way. It's likely the mail users have copies of the mail databases on their laptops, but it's also possible old mail has gotten deleted and overwritten with "whitespace".

    Well, hell, I'm getting out of my expertise here. Never done hard-core data recovery on Notes, to be honest.

    Lotus is encrypted.

    Not necessarily, but probably. Notes can encrypt the server copy, the client copy, and the transport. And, regardless, the server and administrator group will have generally "manager" (godlike) access.

    Does anyone know if it's possible to decrypt stored Notes without a password?

    Not with the current version, but that may not be an issue. For older versions, the CIA has encryption keys...
    posted by LordSludge at 2:03 PM on April 12, 2007


    This is the same crew whose meticulous planning resulted in the quick victory and lasting peace in Iraq that has so impressed us all.

    I wouldn't be surprised if their "planning" in this case didn't extend beyond "Tell them we deleted the e-mails. And if they don't believe us, find someone to show us the delete key on our computers."

    For six years they didn't have to cover their tracks. Now they do, and they're like the Keystone Kops.

    Who was it here on MeFi who coined the word "malcompetence"? It really fits here.
    posted by adamrice at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


    Leahy always makes me proud to be from Vermont. Him and Ben and Jerry's.

    I never felt much for Howard Dean - I couldn't get excited about him, he was an ok governor, but he was governing a state with MORE COWS than people. Not that hard.

    But Leahy? That guy's got BALLS.
    posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2007


    To everyone from another IT professional:

    The technical side of this is very easy to understand without getting too technical. Multiple copies of those emails existed in quite a few places. "Deleting" data of your hard drive does no such thing, it just tells your OS that the space your files were at is now available. The data is still there. You have to take a considerable effort to actually erase it. Same goes for the multiple copies existing at various places on the network.

    Bottom line: If the emails are really gone, then someone has made a concerted effort to destroy evidence; it literally cannot be done by accident. If the emails were just 'deleted', they will be largely recoverable by any reasonably experienced tech. So either we get to see the emails, or we know they deliberately destroyed evidence.
    posted by krash2fast at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    I am hoping against hope that this will lead to the imprisonment of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney and the impeachment of W, but it would be bittersweet if firing a few US Attorneys did the trick when violating the Constitution was inadequate.
    posted by Mental Wimp at 2:08 PM on April 12, 2007


    tadellin - how long until the RNC's Free Crime Pass earned during the Clinton years runs out, exactly?

    Never. They never expire.

    However, at any time you can remind tadellin and others of the Republican Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal. Or if any Federalist complains, remind them of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
    posted by dw at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    (Also: I have this pipe dream imagining a lot of incriminating emails being found to have been sent from "prez@gmail.com" where Bush insists that the "G" stands for "George" and that when everything is recovered, the prosecution has to spend four days sifting through chain forwards and those stupid surveys where Bush & co recount whether they prefer Coke to Pepsi and when it was that they last hugged someone.)
    posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


    The data is still there. You have to take a considerable effort to actually erase it.

    And if they subpeona the servers, it wouldn't take a couple of data forensics experts more than a couple of days to pull them off the hard drives. Even if Rove accidentally drops them from their "storage space" on the White House roof, there should still be recoverable data.

    At this point, I'd be completely on the impeachment wagon IF you could impeach an entire administration for being stupid and incompetence. But sadly, there's no law in America against being an incompetent boob.
    posted by dw at 2:13 PM on April 12, 2007


    posted by delmoi We (or congress) can impeach any federal employee. Obviously impeachment would include Bush and Cheney both.

    Interesting. According to delmoi, we can impeach the mailman, the employees of the IRS, and the TSA screeners!
    posted by fandango_matt at 2:14 PM on April 12, 2007


    As a non-American, could someone explain for me whether the explicit Nixon comparison is an unusually harsh one?

    "Nixon" has generally been used as shorthand for "as paranoid, vicious, corrupt, and shamelessly criminal as a president (and administration) could get." So yeah, when people actually say in all seriousness that Bush et al. are worse than Nixon et al. (not just as administrations, but quite possibly as human beings), it carries some pretty serious weight.

    On preview: TEAPOT DOME: NEVER FORGET! heh.
    posted by scody at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Somebody do a telnet to mailhub-wh2.whitehouse.gov on port 25 and tell me what response you get.

    220 whitehouse.gov ESMTP service at Thu, 12 Apr 2007 17:16:48 -0400 (EDT)

    They're running greet-pause as well. I wouldn't be surprised if they were running Notes, I suspect this box is running Sendmail or Postfix as an MTA, and is a spam/virus filter box, then it passes it to Notes -- it's a pretty common config.

    Interesting enough, when you quit, you get "221 2.0.0 esgeop03.whitehouse.gov closing connection." Anyone want to speculate what esgeop03 means?
    posted by eriko at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2007


    find someone to show us the delete key on our computers

    They were shown the delete keys on their computer keyboards when in 2001 Bush staffers went around the West Wing, replacing the missing "W" keys which departing Clinton staffers had removed as a prank (and to which Bushites referred to as 'vandalism').
    posted by ericb at 2:26 PM on April 12, 2007


    Anyone want to speculate what esgeop03 means

    It means they're now monitoring you eriko! ;-)
    posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on April 12, 2007


    ericb - wasn't that later shownm to be utter bullshit?
    posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    posted by ericb They were shown the delete keys on their computer keyboards when in 2001 Bush staffers went around the West Wing, replacing the missing "W" keys which departing Clinton staffers had removed as a prank (and to which Bushites referred to as 'vandalism').

    That story was also total bullshit.
    posted by fandango_matt at 2:32 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


    esgeop03.
    posted by ericb at 2:32 PM on April 12, 2007


    And Drudge posting the W-keys story was what fanned the flames on its spread.
    posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on April 12, 2007


    Bottom line: If the emails are really gone, then someone has made a concerted effort to destroy evidence; it literally cannot be done by accident. If the emails were just 'deleted', they will be largely recoverable by any reasonably experienced tech. So either we get to see the emails, or we know they deliberately destroyed evidence.

    This is what they must be doing right now. The WH statements are a stalling action until they can ensure they don't get found. Note how they didn't invite any independent observers to come and help or anything.
    posted by amberglow at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    We're supposed to trust that they'll recover them if they're recoverable, apparently. Not.
    posted by amberglow at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2007


    delmoi - so how do we go about issuing a blanket order, from Bush & his controllers all the way down to every dog catcher they ever appointed?

    I don't think that would matter. If you impeached Bush and Cheney both, Nancy Peloci would become president, and she could then fire anyone she wanted.
    posted by delmoi at 2:39 PM on April 12, 2007


    eriko - Not as much fun as ericb's guess, but it's just a naming convention:

    esg is likely "email/enterprise server, gov" or something similarly boring, denoting server function. eop is "Executive Office of the President". 03 just means server #3. There's also esgeop01.eop.gov [198.137.240.80], esgeop02.eop.gov [198.137.240.81] and esgeop04.whitehouse.gov [198.137.240.105]. Good ol' mail headers... on preview, ericb's link confirms.
    posted by sysinfo at 2:41 PM on April 12, 2007


    posted by delmoi If you impeached Bush and Cheney both, Nancy Peloci would become president, and she could then fire anyone she wanted.

    Wrong, as usual.
    posted by fandango_matt at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2007


    Go get 'em, Pat!

    This is gonna be fun. *starts popcorn, unfolds beach chair*
    posted by zoogleplex at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2007


    In essence, Rove is still running his operation as if it's 2003 and he has 60% public support.

    That's why possibly he, and definitely a number of people who work for him, are going to go to jail.
    posted by bardic at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2007


    THE BILL GATES SET ME UP!
    posted by tittergrrl at 2:47 PM on April 12, 2007


    Interesting. According to delmoi, we can impeach the mailman, the employees of the IRS, and the TSA screeners!

    The congress can. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states:
    The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors
    So anyone appointed by the executive branch of the government and has any "authority", not including officers of the millitary.
    posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2007


    Can we impeach these fuckers and throw them in jail for a long, long, fucking long time, yet?

    I'm sorry to be so profane. But seriously, fucking fuck fuck fucking fuck fuck fuckheads.
    posted by Flunkie at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Delmoi, could you expound on that just a little bit more? I'm really curious to hear you explain how Congress would impeach my mailman.
    posted by fandango_matt at 2:52 PM on April 12, 2007


    Wrong, as usual. -- fandango_matt

    cite?
    posted by delmoi at 2:53 PM on April 12, 2007


    5,000,000 emails "lost" is simply mind-boggling. ...CREW has also learned through two confidential sources that the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has lost over five million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005. The White House counsel's office was advised of these problems in 2005 and CREW has been told that the White House was given a plan of action to recover these emails, but to date nothing has been done to rectify this significant loss of records.

    Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, "It's clear that the White House has been willfully violating the law, the only question now is to what extent? ...


    And i think this doesn't even account for the RNC and gwb43.com ones , etc.
    posted by amberglow at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2007


    fandango_matt: Is your mailman a civil officer? If so, he can be impeached the way any other civil officer would be. You can read about the processhere

    As far as presidential order of sucession, you can read about that here or here or here. the order of succession is different for impeachment then other reasons? Do you have any evidence that that is true?
    posted by delmoi at 2:58 PM on April 12, 2007


    Delmoi, I have neither the time nor the inclination to educate you on the middle school civics lessons you obviously missed and I suggest you take Government 101 at your local community college.
    posted by fandango_matt at 3:00 PM on April 12, 2007


    Cite
    posted by maxwelton at 3:03 PM on April 12, 2007


    Delmoi, I have neither the time nor the inclination to educate you on the middle school civics lessons you obviously missed and I suggest you take Government 101 at your local community college.

    So you don't know?
    posted by maxwelton at 3:04 PM on April 12, 2007


    Max, here's what delmoi said:

    posted by delmoi If you impeached Bush and Cheney both, Nancy Peloci would become president, and she could then fire anyone she wanted.

    If Bush and Cheney are impeached, Nancy Pelosi does not become president. See also: Bill Clinton, Andrew Johnson.
    posted by fandango_matt at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2007


    The congress can. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution states:
    The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
    Holy crap! I think I just figured out why these fuckers are still in office: No one is reading those commas as 'or'.
    posted by quin at 3:09 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    I see your point. I think Delmoi and the rest of us were thinking "removed from office" as the short-hand definition of impeached.
    posted by maxwelton at 3:13 PM on April 12, 2007


    Well, delmoi has a long history of talking out of his ass. Upthread, he claimed we can impeach the mailman. I'm dying to hear the explanation for that one!
    posted by fandango_matt at 3:19 PM on April 12, 2007


    note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.
    posted by Dave Faris at 3:22 PM on April 12, 2007


    fandango_matt writes Delmoi, I have neither the time nor the inclination to educate you on the middle school civics lessons you obviously missed and I suggest you take Government 101 at your local community college.

    Jesus Christ, what an asshole.
    posted by bardic at 3:26 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    More like, he hoped the American public is so apathetic and uninformed as to simply accept the plausibility that they're gone.

    Plus, it gives the wingnuts something distracting to say in the face of a very harsh reality.
    posted by darkstar at 3:31 PM on April 12, 2007


    he --> they
    posted by darkstar at 3:32 PM on April 12, 2007


    That's why possibly he, and definitely a number of people who work for him, are going to go to jail.

    Oh, please, please, pleeeeeaassseeee....

    / doesn't want to get his hopes up too high
    posted by The Card Cheat at 3:35 PM on April 12, 2007


    Yeah, for real. Don't be hatin!

    Let's see, maybe a quick review.

    Leahy = Awesome
    Bush Administration = Suck
    E-mails Really Lost = Not likely
    Whitewater = Not relevant
    Impeachment = Hard to decypher
    Teapot Dome = Scandalous
    Nixon = Good Old Days
    posted by EatTheWeak at 3:36 PM on April 12, 2007 [12 favorites]


    Drum is saying that the RNC says they do have copies (thanks to Fitz, natch).... except Karl Rove's.

    That's almost funnier than the original story.
    posted by spiderwire at 3:39 PM on April 12, 2007


    *munch munch munch*

    I think I need to get another Fresca.
    posted by zoogleplex at 3:40 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Let's see, maybe a quick review.

    You forgot Henry Waxman!
    posted by bardic at 3:47 PM on April 12, 2007


    This is such an odd lie to tell. The lost e-mail story is completely implausible so everybody will know they're lying. It's also the type of lie that will haunt them from now until November 2008. Congress will comb through the e-mail dump that will eventually be found and they will keep finding more things to lob at the administration. Someone in the administration will lie about whatever the democrats find and the democrats will go after that person. The cycle will keep repeating itself until the next election. It would have been better for Bush to just hand over the e-mails and accuse congress of playing political games whenever they found something nasty. As it is Bush won't be able to do that because they started with this lie.
    posted by rdr at 3:52 PM on April 12, 2007


    This one time I told a judge I didn’t pay my 64 parking tickets because they had all apparently blown off my windshield. He totally bought it.
    posted by Smedleyman at 3:53 PM on April 12, 2007


    "...because they started with this lie."

    Theme of the administration, so far.
    posted by zoogleplex at 3:54 PM on April 12, 2007


    Well, delmoi has a long history of talking out of his ass. Upthread, he claimed we can impeach the mailman. I'm dying to hear the explanation for that one! -- fandango_matt

    If congress wanted to impeach a mailman, who would stop them, you?

    Obviously this is a completly academic question, since congress would never impeach a mailman. The point is, they can impeach basically anyone they would ever want to (except members of the military, and members of their own ranks). I think it's pretty clear that's what I intended.

    I see your point. I think Delmoi and the rest of us were thinking "removed from office" as the short-hand definition of impeached. -- maxwelton

    Yup, that's what I meant. I'm not writing a legal brief here :P

    Anyway, back to the topic of the thread, I belive that the congress could, if they needed too, Impeach Bush and Cheney at the same time. I would rather see Cheney resign and be replaced by someone else, and then perhaps see the president be removed.

    Frankly, what I really want to see happen is for these criminals to actually serve time for their misdeeds, rather then simply walking away from everything after leaving (or being thrown out of) office. I can wait two years.

    The fact that Nixon got away with everything has meant worse scandals, and more pardons in Reagen and now even worse scandals under G.W. Pardoning these people now would only encourage more bad behavior.

    For the sake of the country, I think it's nessisary that any crimes be fully investigated, and if wrongdoing is discovered (Hah!) the people responsible are held accountable, just like any normal American citizen would be.
    posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    bardic - Lurita Doan! Rrrgg! There's so much to be pissed about with these fucks, I can't keep track! That hearing kept me up til three am watching C-SPAN 2 - that bitch "couldn't remember" a THING. Once she got flustered, she started acting like hearing her own words was some kind of outrage. Like that bit on the video you linked, where she described herself as a "target".

    This cabal came to consider wild abuses of power an entitlement in pretty short order. She uses the very gears of government for plotting partisan takeovers, then has the temerity to treat being called on it as impolite.

    It reminds me of when it was mentioned that America's use of torture left little to distinguish us from our enemies. Bush came out fuming at the comparison, and the nerve it took to make it. "It is unacceptable to compare the United States to terrorists!" He huffed, stunned that anyone would sting our honor so.

    Thing is, most of us agreed that such a comparison was unacceptable, especially when the comparison is apt. It isn't Godwinizing when a regime really is acting like a filthy pack of Nazis.
    posted by EatTheWeak at 4:13 PM on April 12, 2007


    For the sake of the country, I think it's nessisary that any crimes be fully investigated, and if wrongdoing is discovered (Hah!) the people responsible are held accountable, just like any normal American citizen would be.
    posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on April 12


    Do you really think it's spelled like that, or are you just putting us on?
    posted by billysumday at 4:17 PM on April 12, 2007


    Dana Perino is like Michelle Pfeiffer's younger, dumber, eviller sister.

    Can we impeach these fuckers and throw them in jail for a long, long, fucking long time, yet?

    That'd be nice, but impeachment and jail are separate processes. Impeachment only results in removal from office.
    posted by kirkaracha at 4:22 PM on April 12, 2007


    posted by delmoi Obviously this is a completly academic question, since congress would never impeach a mailman. The point is, [congress] can impeach basically anyone they would ever want to (except members of the military, and members of their own ranks). I think it's pretty clear that's what I intended.

    I see. So you're saying Congress would never impeach a mailman, but could impeach a mailman. Fascinating!
    posted by fandango_matt at 4:22 PM on April 12, 2007


    Frankly, what I really want to see happen is for these criminals to actually serve time for their misdeeds,

    I hear you. It raises the question, is there a statute of limitations on treason (doctoring evidence which led us to war, outing an undercover CIA operative), profiteering (no bid contracts for Halliburton), war-crimes (torture, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment), or the litany of other things that these people appear to be responsible for?

    I've said it before, I don't just want them out of office, I want them to live long unhappy lives in prison. It would send a great message to the rest of the world that we have pulled our heads out of the sand and taken care of the criminals that besmirched our reputation and squandered our good will.
    posted by quin at 4:23 PM on April 12, 2007


    I see. So you're saying Congress would never impeach a mailman, but could impeach a mailman. Fascinating!

    I won't presume to speak for delmoi, but yeah. I'm guessing that is exactly what he is saying.

    They are capable of it, but have no reason to do so when an easier mechanism is in place (e.g. firing.)

    It's akin to saying the FBI is capable of conducting surveillance on a kitten. They most certainly have the resources to do this, but there is no real reason to. (excepting of course for those domestic terrorist kittens. You simply have to keep an eye on those furry bastards.)

    There is no easy mechanism when dealing with the administration in power, so impeachment becomes the only point of discussion.

    (To be honest, I don't know if legally the Congress can impeach a mailman, but I think delmoi's point was that if they really wanted to try, who would stop them?)
    posted by quin at 4:32 PM on April 12, 2007


    It would have been better for Bush to just hand over the e-mails and accuse congress of playing political games whenever they found something nasty. As it is Bush won't be able to do that because they started with this lie.

    They'll do it anyway--it's an automatic reflex with them. Step 1: say it's just partisan politics. Step 2: say "Clinton did it too!" Step 3: distract with something else. Step 4: Swiftboat the entire Senate.
    posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on April 12, 2007


    I think refusing and going to court over all this is Step 7 or 8.
    posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on April 12, 2007


    Delmoi is correct in his assertion re: impeachment. It ain't just for Presidents and Veeps. To wit, remember that during the 90's there were regular cries from Republicans to impeach sitting Federal judges. As pointed out, for practical reasons, you'd never impeach a mailman when you could just make a phone-call and get the guy fired.

    But please fandango_matt, let's get back to your grudge against delmoi. It's sad and fascinating, like this administration.
    posted by bardic at 4:45 PM on April 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


    Dana Perino is like Michelle Pfeiffer's younger, dumber, eviller sister.

    I'd rather watch Dana Perino than, say, Scott McClellan. It's not like any of the Bush Admin press briefings have ever contained any actual information.
    posted by spiderwire at 4:48 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    also, Dana's not at all as smooth. She has that flight attendant fake niceness, but doesn't spin well at all. Snow was way too slick, and McClellan was sweaty and guilty all the time, and Fleischer got out when the going was still good.
    posted by amberglow at 4:51 PM on April 12, 2007


    I won't presume to speak for delmoi, but yeah. I'm guessing that is exactly what he is saying. -- quin.

    Yup, seems pretty straight forward to me.

    But please fandango_matt, let's get back to your grudge against delmoi. It's sad and fascinating, like this administration.

    Thanks.
    posted by delmoi at 4:55 PM on April 12, 2007


    What Perino doesn’t know can hurt us--...How is anyone supposed to know when Perino is saying things she means and when she’s just making up answers out of thin air?
    posted by amberglow at 4:56 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    also, Dana's not at all as smooth.

    Compared to Scotty McClellan? That guy's about as smooth as a sandpaper Kleenex.
    posted by spiderwire at 4:56 PM on April 12, 2007


    Also, this is just insanely paranoid: ...Stanzel refused to publicly release the relevant portions of the White House staff manual and denied my request to make public the transcript of the call, which lasted more than an hour but which -- due to Stanzel's refusal or inability to provide straight answers on many issues -- raised more questions than it answered. ...-- from the Froomkin link above.

    Staff manuals are not secret. Everyone in the White House works for us.
    posted by amberglow at 4:59 PM on April 12, 2007


    posted by bardic Delmoi is correct in his assertion re: impeachment. It ain't just for Presidents and Veeps.

    Ah, so you also claim mailmen can be impeached. Your understanding of American government is, like delmoi's, sad and fascinating.
    posted by fandango_matt at 5:00 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Great new video from TPM
    posted by delmoi at 5:06 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    "Pardoning these people now would only encourage more bad behavior."

    Sadly in this case, the President's power to pardon is unlimited and unreviewable, should he choose to exercise it.

    I think our Founders's hopes were that the general standards of society would prevent Presidents from pardoning treasonous criminals, but our standards have declined somewhat since then, it seems. Watergate, Iran-Contra anyone?

    You can be sure that after the 2008 election there will be many, many unlimited full pardons handed out by Bush. Assuming he's still in office then, of course.

    "Your understanding of American government is, like delmoi's, sad and fascinating."


    Yawn. You've made your point, and the rest of us understood what he meant without your "clarification" anyway. Got anything of substance to contribute?
    posted by zoogleplex at 5:11 PM on April 12, 2007


    You can be sure that after the 2008 election there will be many, many unlimited full pardons handed out by Bush. Assuming he's still in office then, of course.

    God forbid! This is one on my biggest fears--that he won't step down when his 2nd term ends.

    Check this out: ...According to Mr. Kelner, although the hold started in August 2004, the RNC does not have any e-mails prior to 2005 for Mr. Rove. Mr. Kelner did not give any explanation for the e-mails missing from Mr. Rove's account, but he did acknowledge that one possible explanation is that Mr. Rove personally deleted his e-mails from the RNC server.

    Mr. Kelner also explained that starting in 2005, the RNC began to treat Mr. Rove's emails in a special fashion.
    At some point in 2005, the RNC commenced an automatic archive policy for Mr. Rove, but not for any other White House officials. ...

    posted by amberglow at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2007


    (To be honest, I don't know if legally the Congress can impeach a mailman, but I think delmoi's point was that if they really wanted to try, who would stop them?)

    yeah, it's not like mailmen ever go postal or something
    posted by pyramid termite at 5:19 PM on April 12, 2007


    fandango_matt: The standard seems to be that "civil officers of the United States" includes all persons appointed by the President. Thus it excludes members of Congress and the civil service.

    On the other hand, you're being a jerk about "impeachment". Everybody except constitutional lawyers uses it to include "removal", that is, the entire process.

    I don't think this is true--many people know to delete from their "Sent" folders, and Rove certainly did, i'm betting.

    Actually, my point (a bit subtle) was that they probably had to be instructed both in how to do this and that it was a good idea. I'm not willing to believe that all fifteen or so participants in this let's-see-who-we-can-fire circle jerk independently realized they needed a scrubbed-clean hard drive.

    That implies that somewhere in all of this is an e-mail that says "By the way, we should make sure to delete our e-mail about this." Maybe even a group click-and-drag session, so they all knew how (I know, it's all so sordid).

    In other words, once again, it's not the crime -- it's the cover-up. Hey RICO!
    posted by dhartung at 5:23 PM on April 12, 2007


    "God forbid! This is one on my biggest fears--that he won't step down when his 2nd term ends."

    I'm not worried about him not stepping down, he's just the face-man for a large group of people, and he's replaceable with another face-man. He'll step down.

    I was referring to the "lame duck" period between the election and the new president's inauguration. That's when you'll see the pardons flying around everywhere, as fast as he can write them - and I'm sure there'll be more than a few pre-emptive ones, if he thinks they're necessary.

    That's really my worst fear, that guys like Lay and Abramoff and the various Enron crooks will all get off scot-free and continue their criminal predations on the world. It's very likely to happen.
    posted by zoogleplex at 5:24 PM on April 12, 2007


    You can be sure that after the 2008 election there will be many, many unlimited full pardons handed out by Bush. Assuming he's still in office then, of course.

    Sadly, I think you're right. This administration has always acted like a defense attorney. Coming up with whatever legal excuse they can. That's good in a lawyer in the adversarial court system, but it's a very bad way to govern. Bush will probably pardon Libby and anyone else he thinks might get in trouble.

    I'd love to see the president's authority to pardon curtailed. He shouldn't be able to pardon people for crimes committed while working for him.
    posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


    It's just so much fun watching people shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly.

    Yeah, but even after all those gunshot wounds to the foot, they remain standing, and that's what really stinks.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:30 PM on April 12, 2007


    Glenn Greenwald on the terrible luck the bushadmin has in locating important documents.

    (Salon, but GG is worth a subscription IMO)
    posted by unSane at 5:31 PM on April 12, 2007


    "Yeah, but even after all those gunshot wounds to the foot, they remain standing, and that's what really stinks."

    Perhaps it's a nail gun?
    posted by zoogleplex at 5:37 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    That's really my worst fear, that guys like Lay and Abramoff and the various Enron crooks will all get off scot-free and continue their criminal predations on the world.

    Not so much with Ken Lay, no.
    posted by Cyrano at 5:45 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Meanwhile at the Justice Dept: ...The Republican National Lawyers Association, which trains lawyers to monitor elections, has several members who work in the Justice Department's voting section.
    The Justice Department denies any improper behavior, but after being contacted by McClatchy, the profiles of at least two members of the Republican National Lawyers Association were edited to remove information connecting them to the Department of Justice.
    Some former and current government lawyers told McClatchy that the website listings were evidence of federal agencies taking a "more permissive – even encouraging – stance toward partisan political activism." ...

    posted by amberglow at 5:50 PM on April 12, 2007


    Well, esgeop03.whitehouse.gov isn't Lotus Notes/Domino -- it's running Sendmail Swich 3.2.0. It's basically a "hardened" public face that's resilient to spam, viruses, etc. and forwards to an internal mail server. That internal mail server could be running anything, from Notes to sendmail, but I bet it's MS Exchange:

    According to this tech article, they switched their mail platform to MS Outlook (unknown server, but probably MS Exchange) in 2003. (It appears that they used Lotus Notes from 1996 to 2003. {PDF})
    posted by LordSludge at 5:51 PM on April 12, 2007


    I'd love to see the president's authority to pardon curtailed. He shouldn't be able to pardon people for crimes committed while working for him.
    Me too. I thought they weren't allowed tho? That it has to be the next president if it's someone who directly worked for the previous one? Or is that just custom? (which Bush will ignore, as usual?)
    posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on April 12, 2007




    Like, Reagan couldn't pardon any of the Iran-Contra people, but Bush 1 could and did. And Nixon couldn't pardon any of the Watergate people, but Ford could. (note how it's all GOP)
    posted by amberglow at 5:53 PM on April 12, 2007


    Amberglow opines, mistakenly as it turns out:

    Those laws don't compete at all--1) You're not allowed to do political business on government time. 2) All WH business must be documented and preserved, no matter whether it's political or policy (which is the exact same thing in this administration).

    They broke both those laws knowingly.


    I'm not sure how you are defining "all WH business," but the Presidential Records Act applies only to materials created or received by certain presidential personnel "in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President." 44 U.S.C. 2201(2).

    This could include "political materials," but "only if such activities relate to or have a direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President." Id. 2201(2)(A).

    So, you are wrong about what the Act covers, but it's a complicated statute that has confused a lot of commentators lately.
    posted by Slap Factory at 6:02 PM on April 12, 2007


    The President pardons people every year IIRC, so I'd imagine he could. It seems like the relevant question is whether he can pardon them before a trial is complete. I'm not sure that it's preemptive like immunity. I should know this stuff.
    posted by spiderwire at 6:04 PM on April 12, 2007


    "Not so much with Ken Lay, no."

    Oh... right. Yeah. Forgot about that. Well, he got off easy.

    "That it has to be the next president if it's someone who directly worked for the previous one? Or is that just custom?"

    The text of the Constitution says:
    ...and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
    I would guess that the exception there means "if someone is Impeached by Congress, the president can't issue that person a pardon," but I am not a Constitutional scholar.

    It clearly doesn't say "except for members of his own Administration," so I'd say it's just a custom. Didn't Ford pardon Nixon? Nixon couldn't pardon himself, since he was impeached...

    I mean, technically, doesn't this imply that the president can pardon himself for any crime, providing he isn't impeached?

    Odd.

    Meanwhile, anything further on the "lost" emails?
    posted by zoogleplex at 6:10 PM on April 12, 2007


    i'm less bothered by the deletion or hiding of emails (since nothing would come of proof of such anyway--these people could--and do--commit crimes openly without consequence)...i'm more bothered that it's okay for official executive business to be routed through RNC servers...
    posted by troybob at 6:11 PM on April 12, 2007


    i'm less bothered by the deletion or hiding of emails (since nothing would come of proof of such anyway--these people could--and do--commit crimes openly without consequence)...i'm more bothered that it's okay for official executive business to be routed through RNC servers...

    dude, you have scandal fatigue. sadly, we have a stop-loss policy in place.
    posted by spiderwire at 6:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Nixon wasn't impeached. He resigned before he could be impeached.
    posted by willnot at 6:21 PM on April 12, 2007


    Sigh. The '70s were a long time ago, and my brain is getting creaky. Thanks for setting that straight. :)
    posted by zoogleplex at 6:24 PM on April 12, 2007


    It seems like the relevant question is whether he can pardon them before a trial is complete. I'm not sure that it's preemptive like immunity. I should know this stuff.

    ford pardoned nixon pre-emptively.
    posted by quonsar at 6:46 PM on April 12, 2007


    impeachment is not a criminal trial. if found guilty of impeachable offenses by congressional trial, the president is removed from office. criminal action may then be commenced against him if the impeachable offense was of a criminal nature. i'm not certain if criminal proceedings are barred while a president is in office, but i cannot recall them ever being brought against a sitting president. nixon was not impeached. nixon resigned. ford then pardoned him pre-emptively to prevent his possible prosecution. no charges had been brought at the time.
    posted by quonsar at 6:54 PM on April 12, 2007


    posted by quonsar i'm not certain if criminal proceedings are barred while a president is in office, but i cannot recall them ever being brought against a sitting president.

    Neither am I, but if I remember correctly the question regarding whether criminal proceedings can be brought against a sitting president was a huge debate in beginning of the Paula Jones scandal, during which Clinton's definition of sex was used as proof of perjury, which subsequently led to his impeachment. But I can't remember the exact sequence of events or the causalities therein.
    posted by fandango_matt at 7:01 PM on April 12, 2007


    Like, Reagan couldn't pardon any of the Iran-Contra people, but Bush 1 could and did. And Nixon couldn't pardon any of the Watergate people, but Ford could. (note how it's all GOP)

    Well, the only one he pardoned was Nixon. I don't think he cared about the rest. As far as Reagan and the Iran/Contra thing, it may have been they just decided to wait after bush won the election, or it might have just been an attempt to be polite.

    I'm sure the pardon system is driving a lot of this behavior. They know they can get off, and it's just a big game for them.

    The President pardons people every year IIRC, so I'd imagine he could. It seems like the relevant question is whether he can pardon them before a trial is complete. I'm not sure that it's preemptive like immunity. I should know this stuff.

    Nixon hadn't even been indicted. And recently the governor of Kentucky pardoned all republicans for any crimes related to a cronyism scheme, that no one had been indicted on. That was based on state law, though.
    posted by delmoi at 7:01 PM on April 12, 2007


    (er, actually I think some republicans might have been indicted in KY)
    posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2007


    Neither am I, but if I remember correctly the question regarding whether criminal proceedings can be brought against a sitting president was a huge debate in beginning of the Paula Jones scandal, during which Clinton's definition of sex was used as proof of perjury, which subsequently led to his impeachment.

    Wow. Observe how quaint that seems now.
    posted by JHarris at 7:12 PM on April 12, 2007


    There are a lot of libertarian programmer/IT types that voted R in 2000 and even 2004. Granted, most of them have been (or at least should have been) disenchanted with the many, many civil rights violations by this administration, but I bet such a transparent coverup as "we accidentally deleted the emails" isn't going to resonate too well either.

    That may be what finally brings down Bush, Rove, and the whole sick crew. Rule #1: Never, ever fuck with tech support.
    posted by jonp72 at 7:40 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Nixon hadn't even been indicted.

    Yeah, I should have Wikipediaed first. The pardon can absolve responsibility for the action independent of criminal proceedings.

    If you think about it, that's why most regular Presidential pardons are issued to people who've been convicted and served their term well -- it's more of an honorable acknowledgement of rehabilitation than anything else.

    It's sort of weird that the same instrument we use to symbolically exonerate people is at the same time used as a trick giving political allies a "Get Out of Jail Free" card.
    posted by spiderwire at 8:20 PM on April 12, 2007


    Speaking to the whole pardon concept, how difficult would it be to preemptively remove or limit it as a presidential power? Something like was suggested above whereby no one holding the presidency could pardon someone from his own staff who did something illegal.

    Because that would solve a lot of problems down the line. Both with this administration and ones in the future who have learned by watching what they can get away with.
    posted by quin at 8:44 PM on April 12, 2007


    I'm sure the pardon system is driving a lot of this behavior. They know they can get off, and it's just a big game for them.

    This reveals an interesting strategic gambit that may yet come to pass.

    If Bush and company make it to the end of their term, then what happens? A possibly (increasingly every day) Democratic president unwilling to give them anything that even slightly looks like a pardon takes charge. Couple that with an even more Democratic Congress, and they are sunk.

    But if Bush is impeached before then, or maybe even resigns and Cheney is left, then what happens? Cheney pulls a Ford and pardons Bush, removing him from prosecution, and Bush (assuming there are any people who really want to hear what he has to say) gets to spend the rest of his days punditing on Fox News.

    If you argue that there's no way that they'd try something so bold and barefaced... then, obviously, you must be thinking of some other people.
    posted by JHarris at 8:47 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Are you guys kidding?

    Hillary already has a list going of future appointees that will receive full pardons after it's HER turn to screw us all over, this time with a liberal spin on it all.

    I think you'd have a hard time convincing anyone in congress to do away with the pardon rule. They all know that it might just save their asses someday.

    There needs to be a way for The People to enact limiting powers on branches of government that won't do it to themselves.
    posted by Balisong at 9:04 PM on April 12, 2007


    The power to pardon is in the constitution, so it would take an amendment to remove or modify it. That's not likely to happen.
    posted by willnot at 9:56 PM on April 12, 2007


    I'm not sure how you are defining "all WH business," but the Presidential Records Act applies only to materials created or received by certain presidential personnel "in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President." 44 U.S.C. 2201(2).

    This could include "political materials," but "only if such activities relate to or have a direct effect upon the carrying out of constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President." Id. 2201(2)(A).


    Appointing US Attorneys, and replacing US Attorneys=official duties.
    Govt. Contracts (see Abramoff and all associated people and Departments)=official duties.
    Karl Rove using non WH accounts 95% of the time=includes official and ceremonial duties, obviously, even if he's just arranging another speech at a military base, etc.
    Anyone in the WH using their access or security clearance to pass information to the RNC or anyone outside of the WH (see the Plame case, and multiple and repeated and probably daily emails to reporters like Judy Miller, etc)=official duties (altho this one is misusing data obtained thru official means for illegal purposes).
    ...
    posted by amberglow at 10:35 PM on April 12, 2007


    Also, Rove's entire job (and others) consists of carrying out the duties of the President as they pertain to Politics (altho he was also put in official charge of Katrina reconstruction, if you'll remember, among other specific official duties entrusted to him by the President.)
    posted by amberglow at 10:38 PM on April 12, 2007


    As for pardons, I bet they already have the papers drawn up for Cheney and Rove just in case, and if Bush needs one, they'll rely on the media, which would invariably call incessantly for the next president to pardon him for "healing", and "the sake of the nation", and so that "we as a country can move on", and as a "bipartisan and magnanimous gesture of respect for the office", etc...
    posted by amberglow at 10:43 PM on April 12, 2007


    There needs to be a way for The People to enact limiting powers on branches of government that won't do it to themselves.

    saddle up, pardner.
    posted by Mikey-San at 12:31 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Actually. . . there is a way to amend the Constitution without a single person in Washington. . . if 2/3 of state legislatures call for a convention to amend then it goes up to the states (3/4 this time) for approval. Sure, this other way of proposing amendments has never been utilized (unless you count the formation of the Constitution while still under the Articles of Confederation), but it's offered as a way to bypass the federal government.
    posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:09 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


    Amberglow: Er, fair enough when you limit it by subject matter like that, but I don't think that's how you were describing the Act before. Not a big deal, but it's always a good idea just to google the statute or something before posting about it, even if you are not a lawyer.
    posted by Slap Factory at 5:06 AM on April 13, 2007


    They need to be subpeona the WH Sysadmin and CIO/CTO or someone from WHCA or DISA. It appears they run Exchange on the server, Outlook on the desktop. From what I've seen, they follow similar protocols as other industries requiring disclosure - external freemail (Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) is blocked as is the various chat services. That being said, they have to be using their own personal cell phones, or RNC Blackberries or mobile laptop internet cards, which gives us till more places for these email to be hiding. It should be relatively short work to see who got what by looking at FEC expenditures as far as who as equipment - I'm sure they documented everything...
    posted by rzklkng at 6:22 AM on April 13, 2007


    Hmm... service for WH internet is provided by Sprintlink.
    posted by rzklkng at 6:27 AM on April 13, 2007


    Slap, i don't see a difference--when you look at all subjects involved, they were all doing official business and not documenting or preserving it.


    ... 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.) Mr. Fielding is, therefore, threatening to litigate this matter of discovery through the courts rather than hand over relevant discovery to Congress — and threatens to do so pretty much up front here.

    But it is a hollow bluff. And here is why: Mr. Fielding knows, as do any attorneys who are looking at this with an honest eye, that Executive Privilege will not apply to any e-mails which were sent on RNC servers. Nor does it apply to any e-mails sent between staffers. And, therefore, unless the communication is directly with George W. Bush, it is not privileged and is subject to discovery by Congress for the legitimate purposes of oversight. ...

    posted by amberglow at 8:12 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]




    Which had line do you prefer for the same old story?

    Lawyer: Rove didn't delete e-mails in fired attorneys case

    Lawyer: Rove didn't mean to delete email
    posted by taosbat at 11:20 AM on April 13, 2007


    "if 2/3 of state legislatures call for a convention to amend then it goes up to the states (3/4 this time) for approval."

    Do you realize what a gargantuan cat-herding exercise that would be these days?
    posted by zoogleplex at 11:30 AM on April 13, 2007


    “I tend not to email or — not only tend not to email, I don’t email, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don’t want to receive emails because, you know, there’s no telling what somebody’s email may — it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn’t be able to say, `Well, I didn’t read the email.’ `But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn’t?’ So, in other words, I’m very cautious about emailing.”--Bush, in a CNBC interview
    posted by box at 12:11 PM on April 13, 2007


    Turns out that Dubya is actually much more shrewd than we gave him credit for.
    posted by spiderwire at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2007


    There needs to be a way for The People to enact limiting powers on branches of government that won't do it to themselves.

    The states can get together and amend the constitution themselves, if they really want too. I think it takes like 40 of the 50 states, but I'm not sure. Also there is a huge risk, as they could very well rewrite the entire constitution as well.
    posted by delmoi at 12:39 PM on April 13, 2007


    Once again, Karl is front and center in another contROVErsy!
    posted by ericb at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2007


    CREW: White House lost Over FIVE MILLION e-mails in two year period

    BTW -- an important distinction ... these five million e-mails are "missing" from the internal White House system. The other "missing e-mails" are from the RNC servers.
    posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2007




    "In its report documenting the White House’s destruction of five million emails, CREW also reminded us that in January 2006, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald informed the Scooter Libby defense team that some of Rove’s emails from his White House account in 2003 were not saved as required by federal law....CNN’s Ed Henry talked to Rove lawyer Robert Luskin today about the missing emails. Luskin admitted, 'There was a gap there. … I have no reason to doubt Patrick Fitzgerald.' Watch it."
    posted by ericb at 5:34 PM on April 13, 2007


    InformationWeek: White House E-Mail Probably Not 'Lost Forever.'
    posted by ericb at 5:38 PM on April 13, 2007


    Sampson lied under oath last month--quel surprise
    posted by amberglow at 6:04 PM on April 13, 2007


    What happened in Wisconsin: ...after weeks of news about Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, we may have an answer to our questions. Feeling the political pressure, Biskupic first tried to find the massive voter fraud that the Republican Party and the Journal Sentinel, along with their talk-radio friends, screamed was rampant in the city of Milwaukee. They even provided hundreds of names of “illegal voters” that Biskupic attempted to track down. After spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, he found that there was no rampant voter fraud.
    So Biskupic, in an attempt to satisfy his bosses, then went after Georgia Thompson. To destroy an innocent woman’s life was no problem for Biskupic if it could be used to help defeat Gov. Doyle. Once Georgia Thompson was charged, the Republican Party, the Journal Sentinel and the right-wing talk-show hosts used this indictment to try to make Doyle look corrupt.
    Now Biskupic is at it again. He has indicted Dennis Troha for illegally channeling donations to Doyle. Once again, the political target of Biskupic is being tried in the press, on the front pages of the Journal Sentinel, which has already decided that Doyle is corrupt and just needs the right case—or perhaps the right prosecutor—to prove it.
    The real question is why Biskupic hasn’t investigated Troha family contributions of tens of thousands of dollars to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and President Bush. Rep. Ryan received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from the Troha family. The only difference is that Paul Ryan actually introduced special-interest legislation for Troha, signed by Bush, that substantially increased the value of Troha’s business. Ryan provided a clear quid pro quo and he should be investigated and perhaps indicted. Ryan, of course, denied he knew this was happening; however, when a congressman introduces special-interest legislation for a major contributor, what is he thinking about? If Biskupic is really trying to ferret out corruption, why isn’t he investigating Ryan, where there is actually a smoking gun of corruption? But, wait a second, isn’t Paul Ryan a Republican? ...

    posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on April 13, 2007


    ... The question to ask in the case of the missing emails--four years and five million missing emails--is not, as the White House would have it, "Whose screw up resulted in the information being lost?" but the more accurate question, "Who gave the order to make it lost?"...
    posted by amberglow at 7:17 PM on April 13, 2007


    amberglow:
    5,000,000 emails "lost" is simply mind-boggling
    It's not mind-boggling. It's criminal conspiracy.
    posted by Flunkie at 7:58 PM on April 13, 2007


    it totally is criminal--i just hope we prosecute.
    posted by amberglow at 8:26 AM on April 14, 2007


    They're lying every single day about all of this, and changing their story too: So much for Fred Fielding's story (from the LAT) ...

    Karl Rove and other White House employees were cautioned in employee manuals, memos and briefings to carefully save any e-mails that might discuss official matters even if those messages came from private e-mail accounts, the White House disclosed Friday. ...
    posted by amberglow at 11:39 AM on April 14, 2007


    “The White House said Saturday it is agreeing to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request for how to choose someone to help recover some lost e-mails involving official presidential business.” But as David Kurtz notes, “The Senate gets to help pick who will find the emails but the White House still hasn’t agreed to let the Senate see the emails once they are found.
    posted by amberglow at 11:44 AM on April 14, 2007




    Here’s a crazy thought: isn’t likely that the White House agreed to the independent consultant because the Bush gang feels secure that possibly incriminating evidence has already been thoroughly disposed of?

    As some have said, that's unlikely. The technical reasons have been hashed over many times, but basically, if they did a secure delete, or the hard drive swap-out technique, then they'll have created a conspicuous absence of deleted data that will raise a red flag. The secondary problem of Rove's emails is that even if he deleted some of his emails, there will be quotes in others' emails, so a secure delete of his data would look very, very bad.
    posted by spiderwire at 7:47 PM on April 14, 2007


    Um, if those emails were missing, and it was an entirety (presumably) how did they have email data to provide Patrick Fitzgerald?

    Also, it appears that Congress made the transition (same as the White House) successfully in 2000, as did much of the Federal Government (since)

    Here is the process that was followed at the end of Clinton's term and the start of Bush's. Did anyone ask the National Archive if they told them that 4-years of emails were missing?

    Lastly, it appears that this is the SOW (Solicitation of Work) for the transition, which looks to have been completed in 2002.
    posted by rzklkng at 6:43 AM on April 16, 2007




    Tomorrow Gonzales "testifies"--that should be something to see.
    posted by amberglow at 9:09 PM on April 18, 2007


    The Talented Mr. Griffin--The only thing worse than sacking an honest prosecutor is replacing one with a “criminal.” In this case, Timothy Griffin, who during the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign worked as deputy research director for the Republican National Committee (RNC) conducting “oppo” ...
    posted by amberglow at 9:25 PM on April 18, 2007


    President Bush's lawyers told the Republican National Committee on Tuesday not to turn over to Congress any e-mails related to the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys before showing them to the White House.

    Democrats and Republican critics of the administration said the move suggests that the White House is seeking to develop a strategy to block the release of the non-government e-mails to congressional investigators by arguing that they're covered by executive privilege and not subject to review.

    Scott M. Stanzel, deputy White House press secretary, called the action "reasonable" and said that any review of the e-mails would "be conducted in a timely fashion, to balance the committee's need for the information with the extreme over breadth of their requests." Party officials declined comment, but a GOP aide familiar with the negotiations said the RNC would comply with the White House request. ...

    posted by amberglow at 9:34 PM on April 18, 2007


    more on that : ...In the new letter, Waxman reveals that the RNC’s response thus far has been to propose that any Congressional requests for emails be filtered through “eight search terms, such as ‘political briefing,’ ‘Hatch Act,’ and ‘2008.’” Waxman notes that these proposed search terms would not have produced the RNC email that transmitted a copy of Karl Rove’s Powerpoint slides that were presented at a General Services Administration meeting. That e-mail read: “Please do not email this out or let people see it. It is a close hold and we’re not supposed to be emailing it around.” ...

    This should be criminal in itself--obstructing justice, or obstructing the Congress' official constitutional duties or something. Condi and the DOJ have also not provided documents they were supposed to--i bet every dept and agency has not provided stuff.
    posted by amberglow at 10:17 PM on April 18, 2007


    sick, sad thing about Bush and Gonzales and death in Texas: Bush and Gonzales "deepen friendship" by executing prisoners together
    posted by amberglow at 9:31 AM on April 19, 2007


    the RNC’s response thus far has been to propose that any Congressional requests for emails be filtered through “eight search terms, such as ‘political briefing,’ ‘Hatch Act,’ and ‘2008.’”

    Um, what the fuck?

    NO SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK
    posted by spiderwire at 7:03 PM on April 19, 2007


    The administration is saying "F you!" to Congress--the GOP always does that.
    posted by amberglow at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2007


    But proposing actual search terms -- I repeat, WHAT THE FUCK

    My experience with this Administration has been like some perverse version of the stages of grief:

    1. Worrying that they will implement bad policy
    2. Worrying that they will corrupt the government
    3. Worrying that they aren't even competent to run the government
    4. Worrying that they might not even be capable of walking and chewing gum (or sitting and eating pretzels) at the same time, let alone running a government
    posted by spiderwire at 3:52 PM on April 20, 2007


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