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More emails missing from White House

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August 21, 2008

The White House is missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office, according to an internal White House draft document obtained by The Associated Press.

The nine-page outline of the White House’s e-mail problems invites companies to bid on a project to recover the missing electronic messages.

The work would be carried out through April 19, 2009, according to the Office of Administration request for contractors’ proposals, which was dated June 20.

Last week, the White House declined to comment on the document.

On Wednesday, the White House refused to talk about internal White House contracting procedures, but said the information is "outdated and seriously inaccurate." It would not elaborate. The White House also declined to say whether it has hired a contractor for the work yet.

"With an eye on the clock, the White House continues to drag its feet and do everything possible to postpone public access to the records of this presidency," said Anne Weismann, chief counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private watchdog group.

The draft document outlines a process in which private contractors would attempt to retrieve lost e-mail from 35,000 disaster recovery backup tapes dating back to October 2003, a period covering such events as growing violence in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the criminal probe into the disclosure that Valerie Plame had worked for the CIA.

The recovery project would not use backup tapes going back to March 2003, according to the draft document, even though an earlier White House assessment suggested e-mails were missing from that period as well.

Industry experts point out that relying on the backup system to ensure accurate retention, preservation and retrieval of all e-mails is problematic because it does not take into account deleted e-mails.

"A backup system isn’t designed to be a 100 percent complete inventory of all e-mails," says William P. Lyons, chairman and chief executive of AXS-One, a provider of records compliance management solutions.

"It’s designed to make a copy of data at a specific point-in-time," said Lyons. "Data is backed up on a daily, weekly and monthly basis as part of a disaster recovery strategy, to ensure to protect the organization from data loss."

The White House draft document says that the number of days of missing e-mail ranges from 25 to 225, a range that industry experts say would make it difficult to bid on a recovery project.

"Generally, when the scope of the work is expected to fluctuate by a factor of nearly ten, I can only take you so seriously," said Steve Schooner, co-director of the Government Procurement program at George Washington University.

"Contractors cannot accurately plan for or staff based on such an estimate," said Schooner.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill in February, the White House told Congress it was trying to determine how many e-mails were missing. An earlier analysis from 2005 estimated the number of days of missing e-mails at 473 over a period of 20 months.

While the higher number would appear to suggest the White House has found a large amount of previously missing e-mail, that may not necessarily be the case. Industry experts say it is unclear from the brief description in the draft document whether the missing-day measurements in that document and those in the earlier analysis can be compared.

"We will continue to work with members of Congress and the National Archives and will communicate the results of our accounting effort at an appropriate time," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has said the White House’s failure to properly archive e-mails violated the Presidential Records Act. The top lawyer for the National Archives has expressed disappointment the White House did not have a formal records management system in place.

On Wednesday, House Democratic Caucus chairman Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois criticized how the problem has been handled, saying, "The White House that wants to keep track of all your e-mail and phone records can’t even keep track of their own."

10 Responses to More emails missing from White House

  1. pollchecker

    August 21, 2008 at 8:03 am

    It’s call COVER UP! People keep forgetting Cheney and ROVE were part of the Nixon Administration. Apparently they learned their lessons well on “How to Get Away with it!”

  2. churlpat

    August 21, 2008 at 10:35 am

    ” . . . ROVE w(as) part of the Nixon Administration.”

    Are you sure on this last point?

    Churlpat — a plutarch by any name is still a plutarch

  3. bryan mcclellan

    August 21, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Where are the efforts to classify this behavior as mafioso and prosecute under the RICO statutes?
    Clearly this is a racketeering style cover up.
    The laundry list of crimes is too vast to view it in any other light.

  4. pollchecker

    August 21, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Clearly this is a racketeering style cover up.

    The problem is that the Justice Dept is in BED with the Bushies. Remember, they loaded up the Dept with Republican Justices ONLY.

    No one is going to put their career on the line for this.

  5. psyopswatcher

    August 21, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Meanwhile, if this was back in Lala Land, any fool who watches CSI could tell you that the FBI could crack those emails in 20 seconds.

    Maybe they need to borrow a few good DARPA tweakers? Not while there’s a chance to farm out contracts (industry boost?) though.

  6. psyopswatcher

    August 21, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Ten bucks says when they find them they’ll be sifting thru the penis enhancement ads which were deleted. I worked for a state govt back then and the spam blockers were absolutely pitiful. I don’t expect the feds to have been much better.

  7. pollchecker

    August 21, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Technically, yes although you could make an argument either way. Here you go:\

    In the fall of 1970, Rove used a false identity to enter the campaign office of Democrat Alan J. Dixon, who was running for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole 1000 sheets of paper with campaign letterhead, printed fake campaign rally fliers promising “free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing”, and distributed them at rock concerts and homeless shelters, with the effect of disrupting Dixon’s rally. (Dixon eventually won the election). Rove’s role would not become publicly known until August 1973. Rove told the Dallas Morning News in 1999, “It was a youthful prank at the age of 19 and I regret it.”[10]

    In June 1971, Rove dropped out of college to take a paid position as the Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee. Joe Abate, who was National Chairman of the College Republicans at the time, became a mentor to Rove.[8]

    Rove traveled extensively, participating as an instructor at weekend seminars for campus conservatives across the country. He was an active participant in Richard Nixon’s 1972 Presidential campaign. As a protégé of Donald Segretti (later convicted as a Watergate conspirator), Rove painted the Nixon opponent George McGovern as a “left-wing peacenik”, in spite of McGovern’s World War II stint piloting a B-24.[11]

    Rove held the position of executive director of the College Republicans until early 1973. He left the job to spend five months, without pay, campaigning full time for the position of national chairman of the organization, for the 1973-1975 term in the same years he attended George Mason University.[8] Lee Atwater, the group’s Southern regional coordinator, who was two months younger than Rove, managed Rove’s campaign. The two spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of Republican state chairs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Rove

    I had to include the cheap tricks part as it is totally characteristic of Karl and explains a lot of the cheap tricks that have happened during presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004.

  8. churlpat

    August 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Ms PC:

    By your criteria I would be part of the Carter Administration since I was an active participant in the campaign.

    I think painting Rove as part of the Nixon Administration’s a bit of a stretch myself.

    Churlpat — a plutarch by any name is still a plutarch

  9. pollchecker

    August 21, 2008 at 11:29 am

    As I said, an argument could be made either way….but THIS is the part that is most telling…

    As a protégé of Donald Segretti (later convicted as a Watergate conspirator),

    When you worked for the Carter campaign, were you the protege of a member of his administration that ended up being convicted for participation in a cover up?

    My point is that Karl came into the political scene during the Nixon Administration and he learned his tactics from members of the Nixon Administration that were active participants in DIRTY POLITICS AND TRICKS!

    Does that help?

  10. Cosmic Surfer

    August 21, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    We can complain and argue (we sure argue way too much) about the little things and tend to lose site of the issue.
    Who – The Usual Suspects
    What – Refusal to turn over any emails, memos or other information for oversight, on-going investigations, due diligence, discovery or any other purpose, giving the same lame excuses of …oops, we lost them
    Why – the administration does not want them seen

    Cover up….No Sh*t
    Mad yet?
    Obviously we are not mad enough to force those in Congress to do anything about it….
    Congress continues to allow this to go on; continues to allow the crimes to stack up.
    Too many crimes to hide under the rug and in the closet….they were stuffed FULL before Bush was through his 1st term….
    Subpoena after Subpoena – ignored
    And that is IF anyone even bothers to Subpoena
    Misdeameanors to felonies
    Manipulation of the media;
    Lying to Congress;
    Outing of CIA agents;
    Awarding contracts to companies without bids and without oversight
    Insider trading (if what Cheney did to make millions on the Euro wasn’t illegal…IT SHOULD BE)
    Torture
    Renditioning
    Kidnapping
    Illegal detentions
    And that is what the blinded, bought-and-paid-for news corporations have ALLOWED to be printed or exposed in their papers and televison “News”

    Abramoff to Rove
    Miers to Gonzo

    All ignored, covered up and pushed back off the burner…
    Impeachment Off the table before anyone even GOT it there.
    Investigations off the table before anyone even knew enough to put them on….
    Pelosi – Bush’s 2nd best Speaker of the House doing almost as much for him as Denny Hastert
    She has refused to do anything, even when DEMOCRATS bring the issues to the floor, she stops discussion, refuses to hear and refuses to allow votes.
    She has not gone after the administration on one issue, to include the destruction of the Constitution, the document that she has sworn to protect and defend from all enemies foreign and domestic.

    Bush and his cabal can do just about anything since they all know that no one will stop them….No congressional investigations, no oversight and cettainly no accountability.
    The excuses are lame and HE’s the one who is supposed to be the Lame Duck.
    Who does he have to kill on the White House steps with cameras rolling in order to have someone go on record accusing him with, at least, littering!?!