JANUARY 22, 2008
The vast mainstream media coverage and outrage over the Bush White House losing millions of emails implies that it’s an unprecedented Oval Office occurrence instead of an old rerun of the Clinton Administration, which “lost” its fair share of electronic mail.
The president, vice president and other White House officials are supposed to preserve any information sent through electronic mail although it doesn’t always work out that way as we know from the Clinton era. Destroying or losing the information is a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
The Bush Administration has been blasted (perhaps rightly so) in the barrage of coverage relating to how it lost more than 5 million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino offered an explanation that many Americans probably didn’t buy when she attributed the mysterious disappearance to a “technical glitch.”
There is no excuse for the disappearance of records that by law must be preserved, but unfortunately it looks to be more or the same. The selective outrage over this issue is unsurprising.
Case in point: Media darling Bill Clinton. It was Judicial Watch that discovered that Clinton White House emails disappeared during his administration. In fact, thousands of messages, including those from the office of Vice President Al Gore, were not properly recorded to begin with and are irretrievable.
Sheryl Hall, the Clinton White House computer expert who alerted us about this scandal, deserves kudos for bravely coming forward. Also brave was Clinton administration contractor whistleblower, Betty Lambuth, who discovered in 1998 that about 100,000 emails had not been preserved by a back-up system that was designed to store them in a single, searchable database.
It turns out the so-called backup system was missing mail from about 500 White House officials. Top Clinton White House officials used threats and intimidation to keep this scandal, including court testimony documents, from going public. These threats also kept the problem from being fixed and resulted in more lost emails.
All of this led to top Clintonites testifying under oath in federal court and criminal and congressional investigations. But this all seems to have fallen down the memory hole. Evidently the Bush Administration is simply utilizing the Clinton handbook on emails except we haven’t seen evidence the Bushies copied the threats and intimidation from the Clinton years. You wouldn’t know much of this from the liberals in Congress or mainstream media coverage, however.
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