January 16, 2008

Hmm, how would conservatives respond if this were Clinton--example 2 million

Talking Points Memo | White House recycles backup e-mail tapes

10 comments:

Leighton said...

"Consistent with best industry practices" my ass. Due diligence supersedes any routine environmentally-friendly disposal procedures. It's like they've stopped even trying to put up a show of compliance with the law.

Streak said...

Well, maybe consistent with best Enron industry practices.

steves said...

I am sure Clinton would have just talked about how recycling the tapes was good for the environment (well, Gore probably would have). ; ) Sorry, just couldn't resist.

This is a pretty big error. How was e-mail archived prior to this?

Streak said...

I don't think any of us really believe this was an error. This is just more of them not wanting oversight. The emails around the time they outed Valerie Plame were in that batch.

leighton said...

Steve,

My understanding is that before this, email was archived in exactly the same way, using tape backups. The only difference is that archives subject to preservation under US Code Title 44 section 22 were not destroyed. "Other electronic or mechanical recordations" clearly includes email.

Caveat: I'm not an attorney, just a technology worker with a professional interest in IP and data security.

steves said...

At best it was a gross oversight. At worse, it was a conscious act. I will wait to see what happens before I jump to a conclusion. If someone ordered them destroyed, I want to know who.

The only reason I asked about procedure was to get an idea of what they should have known, in terms of handling the tapes.

Thanks for the link to the US Code. I read through most of it, but now that site is having problems. There does not seem to be any sanctions for violating that law, so it is about as useful as the part of the US Code that deals with the flag.

ANewAnglican@gmail.com said...

But Streak's original headline comment still stands. If this had been the Clinton White House, talk radio and talk of impeachment would rule supreme.

leighton said...

There does not seem to be any sanctions for violating that law, so it is about as useful as the part of the US Code that deals with the flag.

Ahh, that explains the judge's order from last year to save the emails. It seemed redundant at the time...

I don't know what the White House is required to do (in the sense of having penalties for violating), but I do most of my work these days for an immigration firm (whose work is, I expect, not nearly so important as running a country), and some of the issues they deal with (e.g. harboring) have no statute of limitations. Consequently, their idea of due diligence is keeping multiply redundant onsite and offsite backups of just about everything, even cases closed decades ago.

Having worked in information security, I have a hard time believing the destruction of presidential records wasn't ordered. If it was "just" an oversight, I wouldn't put any of the White House's mid-level staffers in charge of a McDonalds. As the saying goes, sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice, and at some point I think we need to start treating them the same.

leighton said...

Oops--also meant to say that because the White House is trying to sell this is normal and above-board, instead of admitting it made a horrible mistake and disciplining the staffer(s) involved, I will believe it's malice rather than incompetence until I hear quite a bit to convince me otherwise.

Streak said...

Oops. Deleted and reposted.

Leighton, I agree. This WH has no credibility (in my eyes). They can jump into action when a leak harms their spin, but won't investigate their own office or their AG when there is credible evidence to do so.

Some others agree with us:

Contempt for the Law: "It seems unconscionable that the tapes were not preserved. But the underlying failure -- the apparently complete disregard for the law -- is considerably more serious than that.

It took a federal court order for the White House to tell us even as much as it did on Tuesday. But the new filing raises many more questions than answers."