The Ol' E-Mail End Run Works Like a Charm

We all have e-mail accounts, many of us more than one. So what's the big deal about White House officials, including Karl Rove, using their Republican National Committee e-mail accounts to conduct official government business? I mean, an e-mail's an e-mail, right? And who precisely is the human-resources cop at the White House who is going to tell Rove and other White House bigwigs that they have to make sure they use the correct e-mail accounts for the proper reasons? No biggie. Just another Democratic fishing expedition.

It's likewise no biggie that we learned Monday from a preliminary report from the House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that: "There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC. Of the 88 White House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials... Although the RNC has preserved no e-mail records for Ken Mehlman, the former Director of Political Affairs, Ms. Ralston testified that Mr. Mehlman used his account 'frequently, daily....' The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Mr. Rove during President Bush's first term and no e-mails sent by Mr. Rove prior to November 2003. For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006."

After all, the RNC isn't a government agency that is required by law to maintain these types of records for political and historical and legal purposes. Much ado about nothing, I say. Congress, and by extension you and me, have no business poking our noses in Karl Rove's work no matter which e-mail account he has. As the ranking Republican on the Oversight Committee said, instead of criticizing the White House and its partisan friends at the RNC, we ought to be praising the latter for its "good faith" efforts to try to provide information to the Committee. I mean, we can't all expect perfection when it comes to record retention -- just look at what happened to poor Arthur Andersen!

Smart folks, these White House officials. The draft report suggests what many critics of the Bush administration had long ago surmised: Important government officials in this administration years ago figured out a way to circumvent their responsibilities under the Presidential Records Act by doing some of their work, whatever it was, on RNC accounts that could (and apparently did) conveniently become "lost" when the vultures began to circle (as they have here as an offshoot to the U.S. attorney investigation).

And so it has come to pass that work that was done in our name by unelected officials is not available for the investigators and the lawyers and the judges and the journalists and the historians and the novelists who today and for many generations will be hampered in their efforts to make meaning out of this administration's legacy. Worse, there have been no declarations of disgust or frustration by President Bush, who ran for office in 2000 pledging to do away with Clinton-era parsing of ethical obligations. There has been no call or demand to make things right, or to correct things going forward, or to truly cooperate with the congressional investigations that now appear destined to track this presidency until it ends 18 months from now.

Just watch. The draft report is just the tip of the iceberg, but the ship of state is moving full steam ahead. It's not going to end well.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 18, 2007; 9:44 PM ET agag
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And you thought that I was gone.

Posted by: Rosemary Woods | June 19, 2007 08:32 AM

"Democracy" and "a republican form of governemnt" have two essential features. One is citizen participation in the selection of governmental leaders, i.e., elections. The other is responsibility to the electorate for the actions taken by or under those leaders, i.e., accountability. The Bush/Cheney regime accepts the first and rejects the second. Bush's famous quote after his electoral victory in 2004 about 'earning politcal capital' and intending to spend it reflects his view that once he was elected, he was 'the Decider' and the 'commander guy' and could do whatever he chose. His right was to lead, our duty was to follow. He is the Good Shepherd, ultimately selected by the Allmighty, knowing what is good and necessary for us sheep. Governmental secrecy is essential to avoiding accountability. Obviously, the Republican National Committee was only too happy to provide cover to this irresponsible, unaccountable Republican regime. So much for 'democracy.' How fortunate we are that Bush has a direct pipeline to his 'higher Father' for guidance in what needs to be done for the rest of us. Otherwise, I would be really worried.

Posted by: P. Bosley Slogthrop | June 19, 2007 09:48 AM

The "missing" e-mails are the key to much of the wrongdoing of this administration; that's why they are working so hard to ensure that they are never seen by prying public (and Congressional) eyes. The RNC needs to turn over the e-mails it has to Congress immediately. Bush forfeited the right to get first sight of the e-mails when he permitted staff to use an alternate, illegal e-mail account (the Hatch Act requires that government work be done and retained on government servers). GET THE E-MAILS. NOW.

Posted by: Gardenia | June 19, 2007 12:44 PM

Dear A.D.:

Whew! For a moment there I was beginning to fear that someone had slipped something into the Post's drinking water.

I had already read Richard Cohen's column twice to make sure he wasn't being ironic, or at least facetious, in asserting that Scooter shouldn't go to prison; and as I feared, he was (inexplicably) deadly serious.

Whether your colleague just smoked something really bad, or there is just not enough irony to go around these days, I was vastly relieved that it (irony) was NOT missing from Bench Conference!

Thanks from the capital of the left coast!

Posted by: CelticSnake | June 19, 2007 02:55 PM

I too was dismayed by the Cohen Op-ed piece. All of these guys who won Pulitzers in the 70's and 80's are entirely too self-satisfied.

Back to the current topic. A month or so ago I was listening to the Madison Wisc. public radio station which was airing a piece on Karl Rove's missing emails and the RNC. The gist was that when the RNC sent the Rove emails to the White House for review, somebody used the wrong suffix and all of those emails went to a Democratic-friendly entity that retained them. Anyone know anything about this? I've tried to search for the program but haven't found it.

Posted by: Dave | June 19, 2007 04:58 PM

Aren't those RNC emails still available on the servers of telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Blackberry? If your NSA can read my emails and that of everyone else in the world why cannot the Congress order retrieval of messages by government officials with RNC accounts from those same companies.

Posted by: Selena, Canada | June 19, 2007 05:43 PM

Dave, the email suffix is in reference to "voter caging". Greg Palast has written about the story--there's some good coverage at BradBlog as well.

The main player in the story is Tim Griffin--a Rove aide--who recently resigned as interim US Attorney in Arkansas's Eastern District. Griffin who was involved in GOP voter "fraud/suppression" efforts in 2000 and 2004.

Google "Greg Palast," "Tim Griffin," or "Bradblog," and you should be able to get some additional information on the story. I would actually like to see a lot more leg work done on this one--and more independent verification.

Palast has more recently asserted that he has several hundred "Karl Rove emails"--a claim that he hasn't backed up by producing the emails.

Posted by: JP2 | June 19, 2007 06:22 PM

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE RNC, STAYS IN THE RNC!

(As they gamble away the Republic, mates...)

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | June 20, 2007 05:32 AM

JP2: Thanks for the info. I don't understand why this isn't a major story on CNN and the nightly news. It's bigger and more significant than Watergate. In Watergate they were merely wiretapping the opposition headquarters. In this case the President's right-hand man, Rove, was actually subverting the national election through fraudulent voter suppression. And the RNC has even admitted it's done this before. So the BBC does a major story on this; and the American press just yawns. What's going on?! Wouldn't you think that CNN would at least report on the fact that Senators Kennedy and Whitehouse sent a letter to Gonzales inquiring about Griffin's vote caging activities?

Posted by: Dave | June 20, 2007 04:30 PM

If Bush has a direct pipeline to his "higher father", it sure isn't showing, or his "higher father" is a capricious sadist. I WOULD be worried if I were you.

Posted by: | June 20, 2007 05:48 PM

The only reason anyone ever destroys backups is to conceal evidence.

Posted by: Chris Fox | June 21, 2007 03:56 PM

amurkkkins don't care, why should they? the LAW is just a word, and accountability is for the weak.

amurkkkins are not paying attention or dick would be gone already and turdblossom would have resigned.

don't worry, be happy.

Posted by: pre-Amerikkkan | June 22, 2007 02:07 PM

amurkkkins don't care, why should they? the LAW is just a word, and accountability is for the weak.

amurkkkins are not paying attention or dick would be gone already and turdblossom would have resigned.

don't worry, be happy.

Posted by: pre-Amerikkkan | June 22, 2007 02:09 PM

The High Court need to take a trip to NASA and then to Bill Gates Microsoft..Office and get to see HOW far We ( civilation) came since they made office..
On the School deal ..Race etc. there is a very simple solution....
Get big screen TV in the classrooms and teach every subject in everyclass and all the teachers have to oversee the students and all will have the same education and will graduated to the formost teacher in this country...He Bill ...put the system to work in america NOW..we save time no more 1-2 hour rids for the students and WE SAVE GASOLINE..POLUTION etc. And with the monies saved the schools have a cafeteria so ALL children learn and grow.
sigup...

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