Monday, April 09, 2007

Send Out The Subpoenas

Bush administration officials have been using a private email system provided for them by the Republican National Committee to circumvent federal record preservation and disclosure rules. Now Democrats in Congress and Henry Waxman in particular want access to these emails and some GOP operatives are worried, worried, worried:

WASHINGTON — When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment.


Now, that dual computer system is creating new embarrassment and legal headaches for the White House, the Republican Party and Rove's once-vaunted White House operation.

Democrats say evidence suggests the RNC e-mail system was used for political and government policy matters in violation of federal record preservation and disclosure rules.

In addition, Democrats point to a handful of e-mails obtained through ongoing inquiries suggesting the system may have been used to conceal such activities as contacts with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is now in prison for fraud.

Democratic congressional investigators are beginning to demand access to this RNC-White House communications system, which was used not only by Rove's office but by several top officials elsewhere in the White House.

The prospect that such communication might become public has further jangled the nerves of an already rattled Bush White House.

Some Republicans believe that the huge number of e-mails — many written hastily, with no thought that they might become public — may contain more detailed and unguarded inside information about the administration's far-flung political activities than has previously been available.

"There is concern about what may be in these e-mails," said one GOP activist who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

"The system was created with the best intentions," said former Assistant White House Press Secretary Adam Levine, who was assigned an RNC laptop and BlackBerry when he worked at the White House in 2002. But, he added, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I sincerely doubt any of these crooked bastards ever had any good intentions. The only reason they created a private email system paid for and maintained by the RNC is so they could avoid having to turn those emails over to Congress in the case of investigations.

Which is probably why the RNC "purges" the system of some emails after 30 days:

Some Republican activists say the e-mail request will not create great difficulty for the White House because nothing nefarious happened and because the RNC automatically purges some e-mails after 30 days.

Sure, nothing nefarious happened. That's why they created a private email system that gets purged every 30 days. And that's why Jack Abramoff, convicted Republican Uber-Lobbyist, was so upset when one of his incriminating emails was somehow logged into the White House email system (and thus preserved) instead of going through RNC channels:

White House staff arranging for the GSA briefing by a Rove deputy, Scott Jennings, used the e-mail domain name. That caught the attention of Waxman's investigators, who had previously examined e-mails from Abramoff to Rove's executive assistant, Susan B. Ralston, to object to an impending Interior Department decision. The decision, he wrote, was "anathema to all our supporters it's important if possible to get some quiet message from the WH [White House] that this is absurd."

Ralston used outside accounts — including at — to communicate with Abramoff and his partners. One e-mail from an Abramoff associate said that White House personnel had warned "it is better to not put this stuff in writing in [the White House] … e-mail system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc."

Abramoff's response, according to a copy of his e-mail released by Waxman's committee, was: "Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her rnc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system." Ralston later resigned in connection with the lobbying scandal.

Waxman told RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in a letter that such exchanges "indicated that in some instances White House officials were using nongovernment accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of communications" that could be reviewed by congressional committees or released under the Presidential Records Act.

Keep digging, Congressman Waxman, keep digging.

No matter what the White House/RNC flaks say, there's a there there.

A fascinating disclosure. Now if the US had a Law department (Attorney General's Department) as opposed to a Justice Department, delving into the white House records might be a possibility.
Justice, it seems, is subjective, unlike law. Still, I will be watching for developments.
It is amazing that the DOJ is headed by a political appointments wh can essentially kill investigations into cronies, friends, etc. and/or launch investigations into political enemies, etc. Repubs often alleged Janey Reno was just such an A.G. I dunno about that, but I do know looking at the current one and the one before him (Ashcroft) that politics played one of the biggest roles in who and what got prosecuted. And did you see they hired like 150 lawyers from Pat Robertson's law school over the course of six years. That's an awful lot of Rapture lawyers floating around.
It seems to work for Bush...
...even if it doesn't work for the country!
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