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The Karl Rove/White House E-Mail Scandal

Old 04-14-07, 02:51 PM
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The Karl Rove/White House E-Mail Scandal

This has gotten scant attention on the forum... and I think it is a significant enough issue to warrant it's own thread.

From the Washington Post:
E-Mail Saga Gets Fishier

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, April 13, 2007; 1:42 PM

The saga of the missing White House e-mails took a turn from the deeply suspicious to the deeply, darkly suspicious yesterday as Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman disclosed the bizarre response by the Republican National Committee to early indications that consequential White House e-mails -- particularly to and from Karl Rove -- were being deleted.

From 2001 to 2004, the RNC's highly unusual "document retention" policy was to intentionally destroy all e-mails that were more than 30 days old. In the summer of 2004, due to "unspecified legal inquiries," the RNC changed its policy by allowing -- but not mandating -- the indefinite retention of e-mails sent and received by White House staffers on their RNC accounts. That was just around the time special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of White House involvement in the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity was kicking into high gear.

Then, in 2005, when RNC officials discovered that all of Rove's RNC e-mails were still getting deleted, presumably by Rove himself, they blocked his ability -- and his ability alone -- to do that. Other White House staffers could still delete at will, just not Rove.

All this stands in dramatic contrast to explicit White House rules mandating that all official White House electronic communications take place exclusively through official White House e-mail accounts, which are supposed to automatically archive everything forever.


Rove, the Bush administration's ultimate political fixer, reportedly used his RNC e-mail for the vast majority of his electronic communication in violation of those rules.

These new, largely unexplained revelations were included in an extraordinary series of letters that Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent to 17 government agencies yesterday demanding that they preserve any e-mails received from or sent to non-governmental e-mail accounts used by White House staffers.
First, it is clearly significant that the RNC actually went to the length to block Karl Rove from deleting his own emails, right at the height of the Fitzgerald investigation. I also view with great skepticism the claim that these e-mails are "unrecoverable" -- this isn't some mom and pop operation here; the RNC almost certainly has a reputable IT department.

Second, I think the fact that a number of White House staffers were using an offsite e-mail service provided by the RNC is troubling enough. It seems to be a violation of the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 -- especially when it seems perfectly clear that a significant amount of official federal business was discussed through the use of this external server.

Last, I would think that an Administration so seemingly obsessed with national security would have some significant issues with the conspicuous use of an external e-mail server, one run by an agency so lax that they could "accidentally" lose over 5 million e-mails. What kind of security does the RNC use? How do their standards reconcile with that of government agencies? How can the White House cavalierly dismiss key staffers frequent use of unsecure means of communication?

Like I said... at the very least, this issue deserves its own thread. At the very least, it seems to be the nail in the coffin for Karl Rove. But maybe I'm wrong. What do you all think?
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Old 04-14-07, 02:55 PM
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It doesn't look like much to me. Maybe it could turn out to be a Watergate, but right now it looks pretty insignificant.
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Old 04-14-07, 03:07 PM
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My company mandates that we delete emails within 45 days (i think that's the number). I'm guessing it is fall out from Enron.

I'd hope that these people would be smart enough to keep an illegal stuff they were doing out of email. Well, I'd hope they weren't doing illegal stuff, but if they were, I'd atleast hope they'd be smart about it.

They should all use gmail, then they'd never have to delete email!


I read the outside email thing as this was a separate account they had. I think that is okay as long as they aren't using it for official white house business. basically like a personal account that the rnc provides them
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Old 04-14-07, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
At the very least, it seems to be the nail in the coffin for Karl Rove.


This guy is unkillable. He makes Rasputin look like a pansy.

He'll be around as long as he wants to, or until he's indicted (which isn't likely).
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Old 04-14-07, 03:10 PM
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i dont mean to come off like i'm excusing the behavior. I know nothing about it except what i read here. i've become so jaded by the "scandals" coming out of the admin (both the admin's feeling that they are above the law and the opposing sides feeling that everything the admin does is a scandal) that i dont pay attention anymore
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Old 04-14-07, 03:38 PM
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Unfortunately, I have to agree with Venusian. The RNC, and any other political entity in power at the time, makes its own rules, and has 100 different interpretations of what is legal and what is not, what is ethical, what is not. So, I wouldn't expect much of anything to happen until after Bush is out of office. Even then, Rove would probably get off with a slap of the wrist with any half-wit attorney, whatever the charge would be.

Interesting info though, NCMojo. Just shows how things operate in government. One set of rules for them. One set of rules for us. It would be easier on everyone if we could just have two different sets of legislature books and a special constitution for government officials.
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Old 04-14-07, 04:01 PM
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Honestly, what's with the preoccupation with Rove? He helped plan Bush's reelection and plans strategy - so what?. So much of the time he's referred to by Dems as if he's the boogeyman or something, but he's just a guy doing his job, loyal to his employer. He doesn't plan on running for office and in general all he does is suggest or back up courses of action - why care so much about one man? And don't tell me he's some mastermind pulling the strings behind the presidency and the entire RNC - conspiracy theories are getting old.

Everytime the Dems dredge up a supposed 'scandal' from Libby (yeah perjury - big deal) to the prosecutors, Rove always invariably floats to the surface of conversation as the ultimate target of any investigation.
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Old 04-14-07, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
My company mandates that we delete emails within 45 days (i think that's the number). I'm guessing it is fall out from Enron.

I'd hope that these people would be smart enough to keep an illegal stuff they were doing out of email. Well, I'd hope they weren't doing illegal stuff, but if they were, I'd atleast hope they'd be smart about it.

They should all use gmail, then they'd never have to delete email!


I read the outside email thing as this was a separate account they had. I think that is okay as long as they aren't using it for official white house business. basically like a personal account that the rnc provides them
Except that clearly it was used for official White House business. The current investigation into the fired federal proscedutor bears this out -- many of the most damning comments concerning the coordinated firings, and the attempted cover up, come from these RNC e-mail accounts.

You bring up the corporate world. Most every corporation has strict rules prohibiting business communication through external mail servers -- and remember that the rules for private industry are much, much slacker than what is required by the federal government. Most corporations have firm policies for archiving business records, including all e-mail communications -- in a corporate setting, an IT staff that lost 5 million e-mails would be sacked. And all of this doesn't even address whether the e-mails in question fall under the category of public records, as almost all White House communication should.
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Old 04-14-07, 05:57 PM
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The Karl Rove/White House E-Mail Scandal

AKA

People aren't talking about Gonzalez as much as last week so lets whine about something else and hopefully create a new scandal
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Old 04-14-07, 06:07 PM
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<b>Breaking News:</B>
Cost of Iraq war triple because Rove presistently fell for phishing emails. Rove only member of staff now required to ask permission before clicking on emailed links. Rove's penis also reported to be same size despite numerous responses to unnamed advertisements.
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Old 04-14-07, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by IMRICKJAMES
The Karl Rove/White House E-Mail Scandal

AKA

People aren't talking about Gonzalez as much as last week so lets whine about something else and hopefully create a new scandal
That's the thing with the Bush Administration... see, there's no real need to create a scandal, a la Clintongate-du-jour.

I was asking my wife earlier -- do you think the Bush Administration is more corrupt than they are inept? We had no answer. It's like asking if the ocean is more deep than it is wet.
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Old 04-15-07, 04:31 PM
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i haven't kept up with the gonzoles stuff but it sill doesnt sound like a scandal to me. The WH hired a bunch of prosecuters and then fired them. It may not have been the moral thing to do but i dont see how they broke any laws...except if they lied about it under oath, then that is just stupid or inept like you said, they could do it, why lie about it
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Old 04-15-07, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Venusian
i haven't kept up with the gonzoles stuff but it sill doesnt sound like a scandal to me. The WH hired a bunch of prosecuters and then fired them. It may not have been the moral thing to do but i dont see how they broke any laws...except if they lied about it under oath, then that is just stupid or inept like you said, they could do it, why lie about it
A good question. And yet they did -- not just lie, but also actively try to cover-up their actions.

The key here is that, while every President routinely fires prosecutors for partisan reasons, it is rarely done as a "punishment" -- these prosecutors seem to have been fired because they either A) failed to vigorously prosecute accusations of Democratic voter fraud, or B) over-vigorously prosecuted accusations of Republican voter fraud. (But all of that is better discussed in another thread.)
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Old 04-15-07, 08:34 PM
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Good summary article in Time:
Inside the Bush E-Mail Scandal
By MASSIMO CALABRESI/WASHINGTON

The White House inadvertently crashed the computers of Senate Judiciary Committee staffers Thursday night with another massive dump of e-mails about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year. In all some 2,400 pages of new documents were made available five days before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to give make-or-break testimony in the scandal. With their computers back up and running, Capitol Hill staffers are digging through the pile, looking for new avenues of investigation.

But the White House will not exactly be unhappy if they unearth something, especially if it amounts to nothing more than new evidence that the White House used political considerations in picking which U.S. attorneys to fire. In the end, political consideration in the appointment of federal prosecutors is not only common, it's practically a Washington tradition. And though it would strengthen the Democrats' accusations of cronyism in the Bush Administration's handling of the Justice Department, any revelation short of evidence of actual obstruction of justice will be a welcome distraction from the new, much more troubling storyline that the U.S. attorney firings generated this week.

Late Tuesday, the Bush Administration admitted that in reviewing documents requested by Democrats for their investigations, it discovered that as many as 50 of its staffers may have violated the Presidential Records Act. The staffers, the White House said, were using e-mail accounts, laptops and BlackBerries provided by the Republican National Committee for official executive branch communications rather than the exclusively political work for which they were intended. Because the RNC had a policy until 2004 of erasing all e-mails on its servers after 30 days, including those by White House staffers, and because some of those staffers may have deleted e-mails on their own, the White House said it could not assure Congress that they have not violated the PRA, which requires the retention of official White House documents. The White House officials who may have broken the law include senior adviser Karl Rove, his deputies and much of their staffs.

The White House says it is trying to recover the e-mails. "Some official e-mails may have been potentially lost," says Scott Stanzel, a deputy White House spokesman, "We will do everything practical to retrieve them." Stanzel and other Administration officials, speaking on background, say the accounts were established in an attempt to stay on the right side of the Hatch Act, which requires rigorous separation of official government activity from overt political work, like fundraising. "[Some] White House staff members have duties that require them to interface regularly with political organizations," Stanzel says, and therefore they needed separate equipment to stay on the right side of the law.

Members of the White House counsel's office met Tuesday with House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman, who has spearheaded the e-mail investigation. Afterwards Waxman called the revelation that the e-mails might have been lost "a remarkable admission that raises serious legal and security issues," adding that, "The White House has an obligation to disclose all the information it has." Already, tension has built over this last question; the White House believes that even RNC-retained e-mails, if they were between two White House staffers, are privileged executive branch documents that should not be turned over to the Hill, while Democrats insist any document at the RNC is subject to a Congressional subpoena.

The White House is hoping this new controversy one potentially with real legal and not just political consequences will fade fast. Rove's lawyer came out Friday to try and tamp the story down, saying that Rove thought his RNC account e-mails were being retained. "His understanding starting very, very early in the Administration was that those e-mails were being archived," the attorney, Robert Luskin, said. And already the White House's massive document dump is making useful headlines.

So far the most intriguing revelation in the 2,400 pages is troubling but hardly criminal. In a spreadsheet analysis of the professional qualifications of all U.S. attorneys drawn up by DOJ staffers, there are sections for both prosecutorial and political experience. The latter category is broken down into columns showing time spent at the Justice Department, on the Hill, in political campaigns and government staff. The last column indicates whether or not the U.S. attorney is a member of the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society.

It will be interesting to see just how exercised the Democrats and the media get over that revelation. It confirms the widespread impression in Washington that the Federalist society has become more important as a tool for career advancement among Republican lawyers than as a forum for discussing and strengthening the conservative legal agenda. And it is tangible proof that Gonzales' team was giving weight to political and ideological purity as they assessed which U.S. attorneys they planned to retain or fire.

But it's a safe bet that even if Congress and the media are temporarily distracted by the current document dump and revelations like the Federalist Society rankings, the question of the lost e-mails will be front and center for much longer. Waxman is dogged, and shows no sign of backing off on the issue. More broadly, the U.S. attorney firings has shown that the Congressional Democrats know how to put the White House on the defensive. The lost e-mails allow Democrats to hint darkly of a cover-up even if nothing nefarious was lost, placing the Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to prove a negative that there was nothing important in e-mails they can't produce. Given the performance of Waxman and New York Senator Charles Schumer over the last three months, there's little reason to think they'll miss that opportunity.
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Old 04-15-07, 11:59 PM
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Email is a two way street, at least. Even if he did delete them, they would exist on the computers of those he corresponded with. Plus the carnivore system should also have them. Let's put it to some ironic use.
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Old 04-16-07, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
A good question. And yet they did -- not just lie, but also actively try to cover-up their actions.

The key here is that, while every President routinely fires prosecutors for partisan reasons, it is rarely done as a "punishment" -- these prosecutors seem to have been fired because they either A) failed to vigorously prosecute accusations of Democratic voter fraud, or B) over-vigorously prosecuted accusations of Republican voter fraud. (But all of that is better discussed in another thread.)
Still, it was fully within the Presidents power to fire them since they serve at his discretion. Even if its rarely done, its been done before which means this whole mess is just a blood hunt.
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Old 04-16-07, 01:37 AM
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Originally Posted by NCMojo
That's the thing with the Bush Administration... see, there's no real need to create a scandal, a la Clintongate-du-jour.


Oh come on. If Bush had scandals EXACTLY the same as Clinton, you would feel a whole lot different about them. If Bush had around 500 FBI files laying around, are you saying that you believe it would just be another manufactured deal?

I'm honestly not trying to defend Bush here, but am trying to understand why you would try to defend Clinton on his scandals. I fail to see how the Plame deal was any less a political job than the Monica thing. But obviously you see one as manufactured, while the other was about justice, though no one can really say what law was broken other than purjury by some guy no one had ever heard of which ultimately led to nothing.
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Old 04-16-07, 06:45 AM
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The RNC's 30 day retention policy is far from unusual. Long records retention is almost always a liability. That's why certain sectors have laws requiring minimum retention periods.

Also, as the Time piece points out the reason they weren't using WH communications is because by law they cannot use gov facilities for political purposes. Since Rove is the WH's campaign guru it would make sense for it to be his primary communication method, but it appears he and others screwed up and used it for official WH business too.
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Old 04-16-07, 08:00 AM
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I believe the use of the word 'scandal' is a little premature.

We must wait until Chris Matthews calls it a scandal.

Then we can use the word.
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Old 04-16-07, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Chaos
Still, it was fully within the Presidents power to fire them since they serve at his discretion. Even if its rarely done, its been done before which means this whole mess is just a blood hunt.
So the only determinant as to whether something is good or bad, moral or immoral, right or wrong is legality? Interesting.
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Old 04-16-07, 09:00 AM
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this story is so important, it was upstaged by Imus last week
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Old 04-16-07, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I'm honestly not trying to defend Bush here, but am trying to understand why you would try to defend Clinton on his scandals. I fail to see how the Plame deal was any less a political job than the Monica thing. But obviously you see one as manufactured, while the other was about justice, though no one can really say what law was broken other than purjury by some guy no one had ever heard of which ultimately led to nothing.
Um...yeah.

One involved a blowjob from the intern and the other involved outing a covert agent to cover the cherry picking of intelligence to start a WAR. Same thing.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Duran
So the only determinant as to whether something is good or bad, moral or immoral, right or wrong is legality? Interesting.
Alcohol meet marijuana.
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Old 04-16-07, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
Um...yeah.

One involved a blowjob from the intern and the other involved outing a covert agent to cover the cherry picking of intelligence to start a WAR. Same thing.
Exactly, it's all in the perception.

Um...yeah.

One involved a sitting president purjuring himself and the other involved talking about an agent that everyone knew about anyway.


But would you have been so dismissive if Bush had 500 FBI files laying around?

Republicans do it because they are evil. Democrats do it to help protect us from ourselves and evil Republicans.



I swear we just can't seem to see these from a non biased point of view. To believe that Clinton was just persecuted and the scandals made up, but Bush is evil, and what we know is just the tip of the iceberg is laughable.
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Old 04-16-07, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
Exactly, it's all in the perception.

...

I swear we just can't seem to see these from a non biased point of view.
Lets start with this problem right here. You claim Libby and Clinton's perjury were the same and all a matter of perception. How did Clinton's blowjob and subsequent lie effect national security?
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