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White House Ordered to Preserve All Email

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the IT-at-that-place-just-got-harder dept.

Privacy 259

Verunks writes "A federal judge Monday ordered the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails in response to two lawsuits that seek to determine whether e-mails have been destroyed in violation of federal law. The issue surfaced in the leak probe of administration officials who disclosed Valerie Plame's CIA identity. ' The Federal Records Act details strict standards prohibiting the destruction of government documents including electronic messages, unless first approved by the archivist of the United States. Justice Department lawyers had urged the courts to accept a proposed White House declaration promising to preserve all backup tapes. The judge's order "should stop any future destruction of e-mails, but the White House stopped archiving its e-mail in 2003 and we don't know if some backup tapes for those e-mails were already taped over before we went to court. It's a mystery," said Meredith Fuchs, a lawyer for the National Security Archive.'"

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I'm afraid they're too late (3, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335199)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Re:I'm afraid they're too late (4, Insightful)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335579)

Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

Once more, the oft quoted post is more tragic than humorous. I doubt the individuals controlling the White House will actually listen to a Judge any more than they pay attention to the constitution. This will probably spur them into a deletion frenzy. They will probably simply find another way to communicate that has less of a trail.

It is kind of like making it illegal to own guns or use encryption. The criminals never listen anyway.

InnerWeb

Re:I'm afraid they're too late (4, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336011)

What's the point of this lawsuit anyway. If there's a conviction, then there'll be a pardon shortly after. No one's going to get punished, so there's no reason to stop breaking the law.

Way too late (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335735)

The White House has been deleteing email and shredding paperwork since the day they got into office. Kind of incredible how the Bushies wheeling in shredders and pulling all night 'visits' to the Reagan Library never really caught on in the "liberal media". Or why Cheney told NORAD not to defend the country on 9/11, or how many decades GWB has been buddies with OBL.

This is the most criminal administration ever. If anyone thinks the guys who routinely ignore the law are going to listen to a judge telling them they have to stop ignoring the law (or a specific law, in this case), they are crazy.

Conservative = Criminal

That's the way it's always been, it's just too bad America never realized it before GWB stole their country from them.

Re:Way too late (0, Offtopic)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336275)

Meh! The Clinton administration did plenty of shredding too. Not to mention how he let OBL go when he could have nabbed him.

Both major parties are controlled by the worst criminals, and anyone who thinks we can end all the problems currently blamed on Bush by electing Hilary will deserve what they'll get.

Check with AT&T? (5, Funny)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335215)

Since AT&T has been spying on everyone since spring of 2000, why not ask them for copies of Whitehouse and NRC.com emails?

Re:Check with AT&T? (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335283)

Since AT&T has been spying on everyone since spring of 2000, why not ask them for copies of Whitehouse and NRC.com emails?

Whoever modded this "funny" clearly doesn't "get" it.

+5 "insightful (and scary as hell)", not "funny".

Re:Check with AT&T? (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335451)

Especially since if they started in spring 2000, it was under Clinton's authority.

Re:Check with AT&T? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335655)

I think the OP is just being stupid. It has not been ongoing since 2000. First AT&T was not then what it is now. (It actually only became BIG when SBC bought it and changed names, sometime in 2005.) This would also pre-date the modern-era of doing everything in the name of protecting us against terrorism. Seriously, if you can find some viable sources that say this started before 2005/2006, then please share.

Re:Check with AT&T? (2, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335805)

Just clinging to that Clinton legacy (well spun, I might add) aren't we? Remember there were PLENTY of document scandals and privacy hacks under Clinton. I'd have more respect for people if they made this less about who's in power and more about the activity involved. Once someone starts the conversation with "typical Bush administration" this or "Clinton cover-up" that we pretty-much fail to stand on the pillar of truth. It becomes an "us and them" scenario and the jig is up.

Re:Check with AT&T? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336333)

hey guy, I think he's specifically talking about the AT&T wiretap, not document scandals.

Re:Check with AT&T? (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336269)

Especially since if they started in spring 2000, it was under Clinton's authority.

Defensive much?

I don't give a damn about whether Bush or Clinton or Mahatma frickin' Gandhi started the domestic wiretapping program. I just care that it exists, an affront to everything America stands (or rather, "stood") for. Like torture, any debate over the "legality" of it misses the point completely.

As for your curious defense of TweedleDum(R) over TweedleDee(D), I also don't care that Bush calls himself a Republican. Clinton? Scum of the Earth, and I wouldn't let him within 50 yards of a female relative; through Janet Reno, he singlehandedly destroyed the last shred of respect people had for the DOJ.

But Bush??? Personally, I would consider him the single worst, and the least Republican, president in US history - And I include FDR, "The Great Socialist" in that comparison. Republicans (claim to) believe in fiscal responsibility, small government, and minding their own business to the point of isolationism; Bush has racked up a debt that dwarfs his predecessors; made the government bigger and more intrusive than ever; and followed a foreign policy of busybody-ism resulting in massively decreased security for not just us but the whole world.

And you want to view it as a game of left-vs-right? We may as well argue about who has the nicer cufflinks.

Our government, regardless of meaningless party affiliations, has declared war against its own citizens. If you think it cares which letter, D or R, appears on your driver's license - Well, enjoy your false sense of security while it lasts.



As an aside, the letter that appears on my driver's license might surprise you. So do me the credit of having a better argument than whining that "Clinton did it first", hoping that I'll have no comeback to that, as though it excuses anything.

Re:Check with AT&T? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335717)

Perhaps because the executive branch is the one that worked out that particular arrangement...

Re:Check with AT&T? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335877)

Whoever modded this "funny" clearly doesn't "get" it.

+5 "insightful (and scary as hell)", not "funny".

Funny, ironic. Funny, if I don't laugh I'd have to weep. Funny, but weren't they already required by law to retain those e-mails instead of sending their e-mail through the RNP and ceasing to archive for White House?

Cheers

Re:Check with AT&T? (1)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336235)

No....YOU don't get it......Whitehouse.com used to be a porn site. The poster should have said 'whitehouse.GOV'.

Storage requirements? (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335217)

Does anyone know what tech the White House has? It would seem like the storage requirements for storing every single e-mail sent in and out of the White House would be huge.

Re:Storage requirements? (1, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335273)

Yeah, now all the terrorists have to do to bring down the US government is to send lots of emails with really big attachments to vice_president@whitehouse.gov.

Re:Storage requirements? (1)

OwlofCreamCheese (645015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335297)

dude, this isn't 1997, a TB of hard disk is 200 bucks and emails are still only a MB tops

Re:Storage requirements? (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335367)

Apparently you aren't dealing with the same users I am. The ones that paste (15) 1 meg bitmap screenshots into each email. Then send it to the global email address. Then each of those users replies to all and asks why it was sent to them. Again, with (15) 1 meg screen shots in the email. You don't have those users?

Re:Storage requirements? (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335767)

Still doesn't matter.

Computer security is all about taking care where the effort warrants it. You don't create invulnerable systems, you create systems where the expected value of threats is negligible.

What's bugging you isn't that the users are using the email system as a shared file system; what's bugging you is that they're doing that and nobody but you thinks it is worth spending the money to deal with the potential consequences of that.

I'd say it's worth investing in some serious redundancy and backup capability if the consequences of losing the information is that the executive branch doesn't, in effect, remember what it was up to.

Re:Storage requirements? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335959)

You don't have those users?

I tell those users to use the shredder to get rid of those things.

Re:Storage requirements? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335375)

dude, this isn't 1997, a TB of hard disk is 200 bucks and emails are still only a MB tops
You've obviously never adminned an Exchange or Notes server.

Re:Storage requirements? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336111)

And this isn't the 90's. Drop the frickin "dude."

Another question. (2, Interesting)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335319)

It would seem like the storage requirements for storing every single e-mail sent in and out of the White House would be huge.

First, how do yo prove that emails were deleted? And if you can prove it, how do you prove that they weren't deleted maliciously?

Second, I once asked a member of the Bar here in GA (a lawyer) about deleting emails and the legal ramifications. He said that as long as I have a company policy of deleting them after X amount of time, then nobody could claim that I was deleting them for malicious or fraudulent reasons. Because, a lot of folks, when they get sued, will delete all of their emails right before discovery. Then the judge rules something that I can't remember, but basically you, the email deleter, gets into trouble and possibly loses the case.
As a smart ass, I said that my policy is to delete them as soon as I get them. That's OK, actually. I just have to live with trying remember what was in the email. Or print them - then that's yet more problems.

Re:Another question. (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335645)

Hmmm...I believe the rule, at least in federal cases, is that once you have a reasonable belief that you are going to be sued, you have to stop deleting or trashing anything that may have something to do with the case. This continues throughout the suit. The main problem though is how does someone else prove that you deleted stuff? I think most discovery is done voluntarily also so you can never be 100% sure that everyone is turning over everything.

Re:Storage requirements? (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335395)

I heard it was somehow designed around a series of tubes.

Re:Storage requirements? (2, Interesting)

Metzli (184903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335411)

Not trying to trivialize too much, but it's the same requirements that businesses have to meet due to e-discovery rules. If they can do it, one would think the White House could.

Re:Storage requirements? (2, Interesting)

kennedy (18142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335413)

I do not know what technology the White House uses, but i work for a company that offers an email archiving service for just this sort of thing. Our customer base is mostly lawyers, hospitals, and people who deal with stocks and trading. Generally this service is used to stem insider trading, information leaking and to be ready in case your buisness is served with papers requiring you to produce emails from a specific period of time.

With our system, all email end up on a WORM device (see permabit) so we can assure all parties the data has not been tampered with.

Now - the interesting part - the amount of disk space needed can vary based on the customer's retention policy - which is general dictated by various federal standards (SAS70, etc), so really, you don't need an insane amount of disk space. Generally we see customers needing retention policies of 3 or 7 years. Anyway - there's no real hard and fast way to estimate how much space the white house would need (its based on number of mailboxes, number of messages per day, and size of messages) - but one of my larger customers, about 4 years worth of uncompressed data added up to about 300gigs. With the size of NAS and SAN devices today, it's quite feasible they could use a pair of 2TB disk arrays replicating to each other and probably be ok.

White House spokeswoman clarifies. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335225)

She said she has seen some news reports that some court has ordered the White House to preserve all emails, mails and such records. But she has checked her emails just a minute ago and there is no such order there.

Re:White House spokeswoman clarifies. (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336085)

Who actually thought it would be a good idea to delete the Whitehouses e-mails after 3 years without any backup? I keep my e-mails at work for the last 5 years as they come in handy some times. And I suspect that mine are not quite as important as the ones in the Whitehouse.

You Just Can' Trust Republicans (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335227)

Republicans pretend to be the party of law and order but they are they biggest crooks and traitors around.

They use the government to create laws that hurt the people to benefit themselves and their friends.

Laws mean nothing to these people so you must keep a very close eye on them.

George W Bush and his Republican supporters are traitors.

Re:You Just Can' Trust Republicans (2, Insightful)

bhwrice (1185913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335469)

the fact that they stopped archiving seems so suspect to me, like they definitely have something to hide. Oh sure, they pass anti-privacy bills like the patriot act, but when it comes to themselves they don't want to leave a trace... "the White House stopped archiving its e-mail in 2003 and we don't know if some backup tapes for those e-mails were already taped over before we went to court."

Unfortunately... (4, Funny)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335231)

Unfortunately, the court order was sent via email, and was filtered along with all judicial and legislative correspondence, directly to the Trash.

And so it continues...

Politics section (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335251)

Not YRO. And who's going to sit behind every white house staffer and make sure they don't delete emails? Maybe they'll remove every "Delete" key from the keyboards?

Re:Politics section (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335493)

Maybe they'll remove every "Delete" key from the keyboards?

Sort of. The White House is using an Enterprise email system, i.e. not Firefox + IMAP. The messages remain on the server where the admin controls what you can do. If he doesn't want to allow you to empty the trash folder, he just flips a switch in the config.

Re:Politics section (1)

igb (28052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336349)

The White House is using an Enterprise email system, i.e. not Firefox + IMAP.''
Even if they were using Firefox plus IMAP, it's hardly rocket science to preserve all mail. Cyrus now supports delayed expunge, so that sort +flags.silent (\deleted) followed by expunge just records that the expunge happened, removes the messages from what fetch/search/etc see and makes a note to delete the files later. This saves IO at the time and means that punters who blow mail away accidentally can get restores easily. We run the real expunge at 0200, with a window of three days (ie mail you delete and expunge isn't really deleted for three days). Turn that process off, and it's preserved forever. Throw in snapshots with your netApp and you're done. [[ For Cyrus hotshots, it works slightly differently for delayed deletion of entire mailboxes, but you get the general idea. ]]

Re:Politics section (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336347)

There are modern mail management systems that remove the user from archive functions. One such piece of software is offered by Symantec [symantec.com] as part of a package which filters spam/virus/phishing while at the same time auto-archiving all in and out bound messages. There are other free options that the WH could take advantage of. Qmail [qmail.org] has now a wonderful plugin [sourceforge.net] ability that would make auto-archive a snap.

We are talking about GW's staff. These folks, dastardly as they are, are not tech-stupid. They have resources at their fingertips that would make any geek green with envy. They knowingly deleted messages and failed to preserve archives. The Presidential Records Act [archives.gov] isn't a new piece of legislation, it's been around since 1978.

The technology exists, and the White House can afford it. The question remains, will the White House obey the courts when told "don't break federal laws" or will they continue to break the law as usual.

pfft... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335255)

'"A federal judge Monday ordered the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails...'

That'll work...

What's the problem? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335261)

Why shouldn't we get to see their emails? After all, if they've done nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide.

Oh, wait...

Our company was required to delete emails (3, Interesting)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335275)

A company I worked for was forbidden to keep emails longer than 60 days. Lawsuit evidence discovery was the actual reason they gave. At least they were honest about that... I chose to leave there because of ethical disagreements I had.

Re:Our company was required to delete emails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335565)

A company I worked for was forbidden to keep emails longer than 60 days. Lawsuit evidence discovery was the actual reason they gave. At least they were honest about that... I chose to leave there because of ethical disagreements I had.

I routinely violate these polices. I copy mine out every month and burn them to CD. Seriously, then when some politician with a convenient memory lapse tries to pad the blame on you, you let them try. And at the right moment the right message gets "found" and circulated making them look like asses. No one seems to mind as it isn't on the company computers so legal is happy, and they haven't yet figured out how to reprimand those that discover the truth.

Re:Our company was required to delete emails (2, Interesting)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335657)

The reasoning was that if we were sued and then deleted our emails, we were obstructing justice. If it's our policy to delete emails, then we aren't treating the evidence differently than any of the other emails.

Re:Our company was required to delete emails (2, Insightful)

charliebear (887653) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335977)

Another reason for regular, scheduled email and other document destruction is to avoid the COST of combing through old archived tapes, etc in the event of a lawsuit, to classify evidence that is ok to turn over, and evidence that is disputed (i.e. trade secrets, etc). Say you have 500 employees, who each receive 20 emails a day on average. That's 10,000 emails per day, with a 5 day work week, that's 2.6 million per year. If your company is sued, you can't just turn over copies of every email without first reviewing them. If your policy is to delete email after 1 year, the most you have to deal with is 2.6 million. If you are not allowed to delete email, you are looking at a much larger (and expensive) job

Our solution to email retention.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336019)

By policy we are forbidden to use our organization's email systems, whether internal or external email, to send any messages that we would not want to be read publicly on the evening news or published in the town's newspaper. All other official communications must be done in writing only, put into a sealed envelope, and personally hand delivered to the recipient or their administrative assistant and a receipt given with a signature and time & date stamp to prove non-repudiation. Therefore, all our email basically is nothing but useless rubbish, and all official correspondence internally or externally quite literally has a paper trail.

Careful what freedoms we give away (4, Insightful)

DuncanE (35734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335289)

Firstly I would like to state I'm not an American citizen (I'm Australian).

I have always felt that freedom is better served by people hiding their truths.

No one... not even democracy.. has the right to ask someone to hand over their private thoughts. Not even if they are in a written letter. Not even if they are in an electronic email. Not even if that person is a President of a country.

So while I understand if people what to read George W's email to the Vice-Pres, I have to point out the GW's email to his daughters should be protected to the fullest extent of the law and ... to the fullest extent of humanity.

That's a nice idea, but just watch... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335355)

...and wait, it won't be long before Gee-Dubya starts mailing his daughters and getting them to forward it straight to cheney, and vice versa.

He's the president, and his communications should be kept private until such time as they are deemed relevant to an investigation into corruption, illegal war, whatever.

Re:That's a nice idea, but just watch... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335433)

Good point. In fact, with the new requirement to preserve all e-mail, how long before W, Cheny & Co. open up GMail accounts?

Re:That's a nice idea, but just watch... (1)

joeytmann (664434) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335607)

It won't be them opening the gmail accounts, but one of their assistants who reads their email and prints it out for them to read.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335359)

So while I understand if people what to read George W's email to the Vice-Pres, I have to point out the GW's email to his daughters should be protected to the fullest extent of the law and ... to the fullest extent of humanity.
Easy peasy. Don't use official systems for personal business. The taxpayers are the owners of the government systems, so if the president doesn't like the rules for using our equipment, he can get another job.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (1)

Sosarian (39969) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335377)

I'm sure it'll be really funny with the President logging into Facebook and Hotmail to send email to his kids.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (4, Funny)

slapout (93640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336007)

"Don't use official systems for personal business."

I think that probably covers everyone on Slashdot.
 

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (2, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335379)

There is a distinction between personal correspondence and business correspondence. My e-mails sent from my e-mail address given to me by my employer are in no way private. Certain individuals within this company can read them at any time. My personal e-mails sent from my personal e-mail address are private (or so we like to think). Now it's not a far stretch from here to say that I should not be sending personal e-mails from my work address or work related e-mails from my private address. I don't see why our government shouldn't be held to the same industry standard.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335463)

This isn't Georgy's personal emails home. These are emails guaranteed to be public because they originated at the hands of a government agent. All things a government agent does -unless it has special permissions to be secret- needs to be available to all those who pay for such services. This is law.

The idea that we can't or shouldn't be able to get at this information is absurd.

The funny part of all this is that most of the administration uses GOP-provided email services to protect themselves from such requests anyway - even though the legality of this is extremely questionable.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (1)

closetpsycho (1175221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335547)

I agree that all personal correspondence should stay personal. However, when acting in their official capacity as a public official, I believe full disclosure should be mandatory. It's as simple as having a personal email account and an official email account. Anything that requires official action, needs to go through the easily archived official email account. Anything personal, doesn't. Quick, simple, and effective. Now lets see if it ever gets put into action.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (2, Interesting)

pev (2186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335635)

As with pretty much every other employment around the world, Bush should expect his work related email (i.e. White House) to be monitored and archived by his employers and as such shouldn't have expectations of privacy. If he want's to write personal emails to his daughters that he'd rather not be read by his employers he should have personal email as everyone else does, no?

~Pev

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (2, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335677)

Uhm he does expect the government email to get monitored. Hence the two main problems here. They quit archiving them, and they got in trouble for using outside email to conduct their shenanagins so that they wouldn't get burned by the government archiving and monitoring.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335681)

If he's emailing his daughters as President of the USA, then it should be recorded. If he's emailing them as Pappa Bush, then it shouldn't.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336941)

Then you have to worry about him emailing his ole' buddy, Cheney, and just happening to briefly mention some things about illegal spying in the middle of what is an entirely personal conversation that shoulnd't be recorded.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335733)

No one... not even democracy.. has the right to ask someone to hand over their private thoughts. Not even if they are in a written letter. Not even if they are in an electronic email. Not even if that person is a President of a country.

Consider it public if you type it into a system that is public or owned by someone else. While I agree if it is say a persons personal computer whholey owned and operated by themselves I do not buy into privacy if it is the government's or companies computer. If you want privacy, a certain prudence on the individuals part goes a long way.

For example, use PGP [wikipedia.org] . I do as I don't even trust my own PC for some things. BTW works on Linux and Macs too. And make sure to put the keyring on a thumb drive you hide or carry with you. That is, privacy is easy with due diligence.

Never put anything in plain text mail you can't answer to or others to see. Remember the other person can forward it and it is easy to intercept it.

Re:Careful what freedoms we give away (1)

Alchemist253 (992849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335753)

While I agree in general, the President is NOT a normal citizen, and special rules can and do apply.

First, as Commander-in-Chief he is in the unique role of being both a civilian and a military leader, and members of the military voluntarily surrender a number of the liberties and protections afforded private citizens.

Second, as Head of State he is the leader of the United States 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. ANYTHING he reads or writes is potentially relevant to his job, and should be retained if necessary. (A similar argument can be made for him acting in his dual capacity of Chief Executive.)

Anyone who seeks the presidency should be well aware of these facts; they are among the prices paid for a seat in the Oval Office. Note that the court order is not requiring him to DISCLOSE the documents, merely PRESERVE them in the event they are needed. While I would agree even this would be excessive as a blanket order for a private citizen, this is hardly an extreme measure for the president.

Get a brain morans... (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335345)

Go USA!

Drats! (1)

dasroot (1187643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335391)

Does this mean I can't delete the emails they sent me? Darn, I guess I'll have to give the money back...

Already the case? (4, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335405)

I suppose there is nothing wrong with the White House being directed to preserve emails, given their past history [wikipedia.org] . However, one would think that the Presidential Records Act [archives.gov] would already force them to preserve any email that might have evidentiary value (see the third bullet down on the link).

On the other hand, a Bush Executive Order in late 2001 [wikipedia.org] seems to allow almost anything from the President's or VP's office to be made off limits:

...reflecting military, diplomatic, or national security secrets, Presidential communications, legal advice, legal work, or the deliberative processes of the President and the President's advisers...
Hopefully, this loophole can be closed and tighter retention policies put in place [wikipedia.org] , not just for this case, but for all Presidential Papers. To put the Administration's opacity in perspective, Bush's executive order on this subject superceded one put in place by Reagan, and seeks to undermine a law put in place in response to Nixon.

Re:Already the case? (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335539)

and seeks to undermine a law put in place in response to Nixon.

Bush Jr and Nixon have way too much in common. Except, Nixon was a better politician and statesman.

InnerWeb

Re:Already the case? (2, Insightful)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335943)

I think the first, most obvious question would be, by what Constitutional power can Congress determine the manner in which the President keeps (or doesn't keep) his records? Just as Democrats accuse Bush of using 9/11 as an excuse to subvert the Constitution, the Democrats have used Nixon as an excuse to subvert the Constitution.

Re:Already the case? (2, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336083)

It is generally accepted that, as a foundation of democracy, government transparency is essential. It is to this end, and for historical posterity, that records of communications within the White House (and Congress, and the Supreme Court) are preserved. The Presidential Records Act has been around for nearly three decades, and it has yet to be overturned on constitutional grounds.

As a clarification: the manner of the preservation isn't specified by law, only that the preservation be done.

As another clarification: the subversion that people (not just Democrats, and not just in the U.S.) accuse Bush of tends towards greater government secrecy and curtailing civil liberties. The subversion people accused Congress of in the wake of Nixon is towards greater government transparency and a weakened Executive. Each citizen must make their own judgement as to which is the greater subversion.

Re:Already the case? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336813)

The Congress doesn't have the power by itself. But the Congress passing a Bill which the President signs into law can and does make the determination. The Federal Judge is merely ordering the White House to uphold the law which the Executive Branch is Constitutionally mandated to do.

haha, who are they kidding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335423)

the emails will simply "get lost"
or the email servers will suddenly break down and need repair.

Re:haha, who are they kidding? (2, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335471)

the emails will simply "get lost"
or the email servers will suddenly break down and need repair.

This just in: archivist reports that 18.5 minutes worth of presidential e-mails contain nothing but whitespace.

Re:haha, who are they kidding? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335549)

More like 18.5 months. Or if you go back to 2003, it will be about 60 months.

Do George and Dick handle their email. I bet they have staff for it, which kinda defeats the advantages of it. It means if anybody gets in trouble for this, it will be the low-level 'email' flunky.

Re:haha, who are they kidding? (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335693)

All I can say is "that is interesting, isn't it".

(yeah, it's offtopic, I know, but still that reference to Contact was too good to pass up)

Re:haha, who are they kidding? (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335773)

Even better: the archive where it's stored gets corrupted. I mean, that happens all the time and is a pretty good defence.

Meredith Fuchs? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335445)

She gets around, round, round, round, she gets around...

Seriously, that unfortunate name probably causes her plenty of discomfort. Can you imagine at the doctor's office? Ms. Fuchs? The doctor will see you shortly. Sounds like a cheap porn flick actually.

Re:Meredith Fuchs? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335585)

The story after this on the front page was about an atomic spy. I wondered if it would be Klaus Fuchs. It wasn't, but it would have been a weird coincidence.

Do these count? (1)

drewmoney (1133487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335459)

I swear, if any of those emails appear to be from me, they are just 'Out of Office Replies'!

SOX (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335495)

Just make them follow Sarbanes-Oxley. With their ties to corporate America, it should be a no brainer. That and they'll get some practice with the rules they need to enforce. Put NASA under Six Sigma and get the US military certified to ISO 9000 and maybe 14000. Let me give you a tip, consulting will be the wave of the future.

Re:SOX (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336039)

Just make them follow Sarbanes-Oxley
By the time they get all the procedures into place some auditor who thinks they're a lawyer will just come and change the rules. At least that's how it was when I was working with SOX. I would die a little inside each time I submitted paperwork to test the application for submitting paperwork for testing applications... So it would have no effect on the current 1984 Pigs

Plausible excuse (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335511)

All W has to do is claim that the StupidFilter [slashdot.org] deleted them. Nobody will argue the point.

What about saving these? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335519)

TO TEH MOON!!!

SCOX to move fast. see scox.pk
make money quick!

Why is this still an issue? Hello.. Armitage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335529)

Why is this still an issue?
Armitage was the one who menitioned Plame's position to Novak.

The witch hunt got Libby (even tho Fitzgerald had already known it was Armitage)..
Geez...they just dont give up do they...

Re:Why is this still an issue? Hello.. Armitage? (0, Troll)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335739)

This is still an issue because it is yet another way to attack America.

They go for the troops in the field.

They go for the generals in Congress.

They go for the President in Washington.

It is all of a piece. Attack, attack, attack.

Re:Why is this still an issue? Hello.. Armitage? (2, Informative)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336285)

Why do you dittohead nitwits keep regurgitating that refrain? Libby was a leaker as well and the leaking "campaign" was probably initiated by Libby, though he may not have made the first phone call. Libby was busted for lying about his involvement. Check out the Washington Post's Libby timeline [washingtonpost.com] .

It was the CIA who requested the investigation into the leak, not the Democrats on a "witch hunt." And, the only reason Armitage wasn't brought up on charges is the leaker statute is too weakly worded to nail him (something about the act being knowledgeable and intentional).

But, I guess if you don't see it on Faux News, it didn't happen :(

Re:Why is this still an issue? Hello.. Armitage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336545)

It was the CIA who requested the investigation into the leak, not the Democrats on a "witch hunt." And it is WELL understood by now just how political many in the CIA had become during the Clinton years.

Re:Why is this still an issue? Hello.. Armitage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336307)

Two words: witch hunt. Guess they aren't smart enough to understand it will apply to them as well once they are back in power. Oh, I forgot, W is going to dissolve Congress and retain the power after Jan 2009 so that won't matter. You think Hillary REALLY wants all of her/staff's emails about the failed socialist health care failure made public right now?

Preserving emails is like preserving the wind (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335581)

Unless you also preserve the email server logs (and they have to be really detailed in order to make some sense of preservation), preserving all the emails is an illusion. Not to talk about the amount of storage needed, tapes for long term preservation etc etc.
Forget about the emails: it's more or less the same as the work of mounth: blowing in the wind.

Two accounts (4, Insightful)

Etrias (1121031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335647)

Remember folks, there are two accounts that we should consider here. As there is an executive order to preserve all "official" communication, the White House emails are likely not that hard to get as they would be breaking federal law if they deleted those emails.

However, the likelihood of what they are looking for are actually in the RNC emails, those are the ones that should be under federal order not to be destroyed. The current administration (under the direction of Karl Rove) was directed to have most of their communication about political strategy (under which the whole Plame event would have qualified) to be routed through RNC accounts.

Bush, of course, does not use email. As loath as I am to say so, if he wanted to be secret, not using email is a pretty good way to achieve the lack of culpability for any political shenanigans.

Authority of the Courts (1, Interesting)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335731)

By what authority can the courts order the executive branch to not delete any emails? In Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that it did not have, and under the Constitution could not be given, the power to issue such orders to the executive branch.

Re:Authority of the Courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335939)

That does not matter this is slashdot. If it was a democrat in power it the views would be about how the republicans are just causing trouble. Slashdot is such a democrat website. Everything is Bias.

Re:Authority of the Courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336515)

If it was a democrat in power it the views would be about how the republicans are just causing trouble.

Spoken like a true n00b who can't recall what slashdot was like under clinton's echelon. That or a Republican AG in training, learning how to selectively purge things that might harm The Party from memory. Just keep repeating it: "I Cannot Recall", one of these days you might make a splendid Cabinet member.

Cavity Search Bush (3, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335759)

What Republicans told me and the rest of the world for the past 7 years:

If you're not guilty, you won't mind being searched - so now we have to search you much more closely. Mr Bush, please drop your drawers.

This is the moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21335863)

Let's forward all spam to the White House!

Two words, Executive Privilege (5, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21335941)

Whenever there is misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, corruption or sheer incompetence you can almost guarantee that a President will hide behind "Executive Privilege". Which I challenge you to find anywhere in the US Constitution, it in fact does not exist. They will use "Executive Privilege" to ignore the courts and grab more power for the Presidency. It is for reasons such as this that I have come to believe that the Constitution must be amended and the office of the Presidency abolished. It is simply too much power in the hands of one person, with the temptation to seize even more power.

However I see the chances of this happening as slim to know, as many people not only desire a President but actually a King or Emperor. In their world view, they need to see somebody "in charge", even if that person is a travesty.

Separation of Powers (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336485)

At least according to the Founders, we have 3 equal and separate branches. The Executive can't order the courts to do something. Or they can, but the Executive should have the right to tell them to pound sand. The courts shouldn't be able to order the Executive Branch to do something either. They are not, or at least should not, be the super-branch.

Furthermore, Executive Privledge is a real concern. If you have to face lawsuits and investigations about advice given to the President or things along those lines, everyone will go into CYA mode. The President will not be given candid advice.

My viewpoint is based on the Constitution and not on any concern about what is in the emails or what the emails are about. It doesn't matter. That's the principle.

This principle applies to when Democrats control the White House and when Republicans control the White House.

Getting what You Ask For (-1, Flamebait)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336079)

It's to the point where officials have to fear using any technology because somewhere down the road something can be pulled out of context and used against them. And the sad part is that you guys are cheering it on because you hate the President more than you love your freedom.

See how they like it. (1)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336261)

Good to see Bush et al getting a little taste of what they are doing to us. One of our founding fathers says it best.

Those that give up Liberty to have temporary Security deserve Neither - Benjamin Franklin.

Re:See how they like it. (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336757)

"Those that give up Liberty to have temporary Security deserve Neither - Benjamin Franklin."

Sorry, wrong answer.

The Funny Thing About National Security (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21336759)

The funny thing with "national security" is that they can read all your emails but you can't see any of theirs, even though our Constitution states otherwise. Well it's only a "goddamn piece of paper".

WWOT! fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21336851)

with any sort asshole To others that support

Offsite or no email (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21337033)

I recall reading that this administration was already using an obscurely named .com site for email for this
very reason. The other effect of this rule -- future presidents won't use email but IMs or IR blasting, etc.
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