White House Has No Comprehensive E-Mail Archive
System Used by Clinton Was Scrapped
By Elizabeth Williamson and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, January 22, 2008; A03
For years, the Bush administration has relied on an inadequate archiving system for storing the millions of e-mails sent through White House servers, despite court orders and statutes requiring the preservation of such records, according to documents and technical experts.
President Bush‘s White House early on scrapped a custom archiving system that the Clinton administration had adopted under a federal court order. From 2001 to 2003, the Bush White House also recorded over computer backup tapes that provided a last line of defense for preserving e-mails, even though a similar practice landed the Clinton administration in legal trouble.
As a result, several years’ worth of electronic communication may have been lost, potentially including e-mails documenting administration actions in the run-up to the Iraq war.
White House officials said last week that they have “no reason to believe” that any e-mails were deliberately destroyed or are missing. But over the past year, they have acknowledged problems with archiving, saving and finding e-mails dating from early in the administration until at least 2005.
The administration’s e-mail policies have been repeatedly challenged by lawmakers and open-government groups, in congressional hearings and in court. Two groups, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have accused the White House in lawsuits of violating the Federal Records Act because of what they say is its failure to preserve millions of e-mails, a charge the White House rejects.
We’ve all seen it at some time or another in our lives–the confrontational bully, who simply does not back down in the face of law. Amazingly, they get away with looking you straight in the eye, saying ‘no’ and doing as they damn well please.
I once knew a horse-dealer like that, who roughnecked his way through the show-horse game and got away with metaphoric murder until he finally committed literal murder by killing his brother, a competitor.
Until shooting his brother, he was unstoppable by the simple expedient of ignoring both the law and common decency. Fortunately, your chances of encountering such a person (other than the occasional road-rage) are small.
Unfortunately, we have a president who suffers from ignoring-the-law syndrome.
Like the bully-brother I have described, President Bush simply looks the nation, the Congress and the courts in the eye and says ‘no.’
- Laws the Congress passes, he negates with ‘signing statements’
- International treaties he dislikes, he abrogates, unilaterally
- When white turns black policy-wise, he simply denies black exists
- He initiates and revels in torture, denying it with the aplomb of a Saddam
- He spies (illegally) on his fellow Americans, denies it and goes right on spying
And, like my horseman acquaintance, he gets away with it.
This president should be nicknamed ‘The Dentist,’ because of the way he has contrived to make the United States Constitution toothless. And we, whose duty it is to hold our elected officials collective feet to the fire, are busy and distracted elsewhere.
Or perhaps merely afraid to confront the bully.