Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 1, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PAGING WOODWARD AND BERNSTEIN....Patrick Fitzgerald, in a letter to Scooter Libby's lawyers, makes this bland assertion:

We have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.

Missing emails from both the VP's office and the president's office? For "certain periods in 2003"? That certainly deserves some followup, doesn't it?

Kevin Drum 3:42 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (80)

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Comments

Calling Rosemary Woods...

Posted by: Deckko on February 1, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hell yeah.

Posted by: Beth on February 1, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Sand in the umpire's eyes.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 1, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

WOODWARD and BERNSTEIN left the builiding a long time ago. They now reside in a new comfort zone.

Posted by: neondog on February 1, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Woodward's already on this story. In fact, he was on the story before Novak.

Posted by: Al on February 1, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Eisenhower's farewell warning to the American Public is always worth repeating:

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
God help us all in every nation. It came to pass and no one listened to this wise old man.

Posted by: murmeister on February 1, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I hope you don't really mean to call on The Bob Woodward. After all, Mr. Woodward has become a self-serving government shill and has lost all credibility... esecially regarding anything to do with the Fitzgerald investigation.

Jus' sayin'.

Posted by: Mitch on February 1, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing to see here. Move along....

Posted by: Stefan on February 1, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Gotta agree with Mitch. If Woodward were to find any emails, he might just keep them to himself these days.

I can't say I could trust him again.

Posted by: Bob M on February 1, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty obvious at this point that Fitzgerald's investigation is pretty much over. Not requiring Cheney and Bush to be deposed under oath, and letting Rove walk shows that he was willing to go only so far.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin meant to say: "paging Dan Rather and Mary Mapes".

Sheehan/Obama '08

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 1, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

These guys are so not clued in to the fact that the delete thingy doesn't actually, like you know, delete.

Posted by: Carl H. on February 1, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

I eagerly await the snide, outraged, blistering New York Times and Wall Street Journal editorials denouncing the White House for its stonewalling and deceit...oh, wait. This is about the Bush White House and not Clinton and Whitewater? Never mind, then.

Posted by: Stefan on February 1, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

It requires nothing. W is only trying to protect us. Protect us from all the brown boogie-men about to kill us (or worse, rape us) at any moment.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 1, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah we'll get right on that right after I disclosed my energy partners who helps write laws.

Love Always,

Dick Chaney

XOXOXOX

Posted by: Jeremy on February 1, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

"It's pretty obvious at this point that Fitzgerald's investigation is pretty much over."

Oh come on! Have faith in Fitzmas 2006! How can you ever win with such a loser attitude?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 1, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The other Washington story that seems to call for, what do you call it, up, Journalism, is in the Abramoff file. The mainstream press continually asserts that "Abramoff directed contribitions from tribes to Democrats". Has anyone asked the tribal officials about this statement? It seems pretty basic journalism (and I was once a newpaper reporter, and still freelance). I can't find a lot of reference to the tribal establishments having anything to say about this.
I can imagine some stonewalling by some officials, but one would think these guys have a story to sell, uh, tell. Is it racism, or laziness, or just a blind willingness to follow the regurgitated story line?

Posted by: Mr. Bill on February 1, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

These guys are so not clued in to the fact that the delete thingy doesn't actually, like you know, delete. Posted by: Carl H.

It does it you go back a do a scrub of your hard drive's empty spaces. Otherwise, he's going to have to get a warrant to get several people's computers. I'm sure he'll get lots of cooperation on that.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

...

Always stay 1 step ahead of 'em.

(idiots)

...

Posted by: K. Rove on February 1, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I woould love, love, love to be wrong on this, but I'll bet this is both the first and last we ever hear about those missing emails.

Posted by: bob on February 1, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom fighter, where are you fighting freedom? Overseas? In Iraq? Afghanistan?

Or the basement in the suburbs in mummy's house?

Tsk tsk, little boy, time you became a grownup and served your country, right?

But somehow methinks a pantywaist like you wouldn't last 12 hours in the military.

Posted by: Johnny on February 1, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Let's lay off snide attacks on Bernstein. While he hasn't been terribly high profile (certainly not as much so as his ex Nora E @ HuffPo), he's pretty consistently refused to swallow the Cheney Cabal's bullshit.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on February 1, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Bill: The other Washington story that seems to call for, what do you call it, up, Journalism, is in the Abramoff file. The mainstream press continually asserts that "Abramoff directed contribitions from tribes to Democrats". Has anyone asked the tribal officials about this statement? It seems pretty basic journalism (and I was once a newpaper reporter, and still freelance). I can't find a lot of reference to the tribal establishments having anything to say about this.
I can imagine some stonewalling by some officials, but one would think these guys have a story to sell, uh, tell. Is it racism, or laziness, or just a blind willingness to follow the regurgitated story line?

The invaluable Josh Marshall has the latest on this:

New study by non-partisan research firm says no dice to claims Jack Abramoff was steering tribal money to Dems like he was to Republicans. In fact, the study suggests opposite.

Some nuggets ...

"The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway."

and this ...

"The analysis shows: in total, the donations of Abramoffs tribal clients to Democrats dropped by nine percent after they hired him, while their donations to Republicans more than doubled, increasing by 135 percent after they signed him up; five out of seven of Abramoffs tribal clients vastly favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones; four of the seven began giving substantially more to Republicans than Democrats after he took them on; Abramoffs clients gave well over twice as much to Republicans than Democrats, while tribes not affiliated with Abramoff gave well over twice as much to Democrats than the GOP -- exactly the reverse pattern."

The truth is that only idiots and liars (actually, I guess the liars 'say' but don't 'believe') think the Abramoff operation was really bipartisan in any meaningful sense. But here's at least some more data points to add to the mix.

Posted by: Stefan on February 1, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

There was a big scandal during the Clinton Administration about some problems with the White House email archiving system - it wasn't working, and they had been subpoenaing it for whitewater and paula jones nonsense. Turns out the problems were technical, but the story I read was unclear on whether they ever actually fixed the problem.

Having spent some years working in the tape backup software industry, I'm not at all suprised if they were having problems. It's about the most unreliable and problem-prone facet of computing that I'm aware of.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 1, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Having an IT specialist look over the whole thing would certainly slow down an investigation.

Posted by: B on February 1, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody does it! A bipartisan scandal! Not surprised the liberal media is so fixated on it! When will they start reporting all the good things the Fitzgerald investigation has uncovered about the Bush White House?

Paging Deborah Howell!

Posted by: Memekiller on February 1, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Osama,
Remember, Gonzales gave Bush a window of somewhere around 12 hours to delete offending e-mails before officially being told to preserve evidence.

Posted by: Memekiller on February 1, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

What makes Sheehan a suitable candidate for any office?

Posted by: gq on February 1, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Best of luck getting your hands on the hard drive to retrieve the deletions. I would suspect that particular unit has spent a fair amount of time near a large magnet recently.

Posted by: TJM on February 1, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

since I'm pretty intimately involved in electronic discovery on an ongoing basis...its not exactly uncommon for there to be archival issues. nothing is ever preserved perfectly...now if the missing periods were only certain specific days or weeks...that's certainly of interest.

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Call me crazy, but I seem to remember a mad dash to find emails that mentioned Matt Cooper.... .

There was this lawyer named Luskin that was spinning like crazy trying to prove that his team found extra e-mails not previously located in the first search because cough****they thought they deleted all traces of them****cough, I mean, were not using the correct "search terms".

The next thing you know, Luskin is hauled into the grand jury.

But...what do I know....pass the popcorn...

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY EVERYONE!!!!

Posted by: justmy2 on February 1, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

This never would have slipped through the cracks if Bob Woodward was still alive.

Posted by: BJ on February 1, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

justmy2:

just for the record, I have never been involved in any sort of electronic discovery where the first search finds all responsive documents.

one way around this is to reach an agreement on the appropriate search terms...then at least the responding party can't be accused of not searching thoroughly.

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Now we are talkin, scandal, scandal, scandal. Hurray!

If we had "really" filibustered, Abramoff, missing emails, the iraq mess, NSA, Plame, medicare, HSA, budget deficit (I could go on) would have all been in the back burner for weeks. Now, its fun fun fun to be the minority party

I wanna be a minority
I don't need your authority
down with the moral majority
cause I want to a minority....party that is

little greenday to wake up the comments!

Posted by: the fake Fake Al on February 1, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, Fitzgerald doesn't say the messages weren't found in a search. He says they weren't "preserved through the normal archiving process".

Posted by: KCinDC on February 1, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you! This administration has been more than forthcoming on every single issue up for investigation including 9/11, Katrina, and Plame. This is a real surprise! I'm sure it was a very innocent oversight..
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Fucking criminals.

Posted by: ckelly on February 1, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: I think Kevin meant to say: "paging Dan Rather and Mary Mapes".

Neither of whom destroyed evidence.

Both of whom were punished for their improper actions.

And neither of the above apply to the Bush White House which has destroyed evidence and who will never punish those who lie, cheat, steal, obstruct, and destroy.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 1, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

KC: Nathan, Fitzgerald doesn't say the messages weren't found in a search. He says they weren't "preserved through the normal archiving process".

Yes, but as we know from his history of posts, events that take place outside of Nathan's personal experience haven't really occurred, so we can dismiss them out of hand.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

My experience is the opposite. Any amount of scrubbing can't completely get rid of information on your harddrive. If they scrubbed, the e-mails are probably still there, as is the evidence of the scrubbing.

Posted by: Memekiller on February 1, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom fighter: Fighting freedom 24/7... with collateral damage of truth, justice, and the American way.

Posted by: ckelly on February 1, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

kcindc:

my first post was on the archival issue.

the second one (the one you responded to) was to the comment on Luskin finding the e-mail on a second search. I guess I should have made that clear.

Memekiller: you are generally correct...but that's also irrelevant. in electronic discovery you don't normally turn over a hard-drive to the other side. they ask you to retrieve documents responsive to a specific document request. you then search the hard drive, etc. for documents responsive to that request. inevitably, you don't get them all.

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Is this, uh, obstruction of justice, or something like that?

Posted by: bob h on February 1, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I think Nathan was responding to me....fair is fair...

The original excuse used by Luskin for the missing Hadley email was "bad search terms". I was making reference to that with a teaspoon of snark.

That being said, if they didn't search for "Cooper", "Matt Cooper", and "Matthew Cooper", it is tough to make the case that the incompetence wasn't intentional in this case.

Posted by: justmy2 on February 1, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

justmy2:

"That being said, if they didn't search for "Cooper", "Matt Cooper", and "Matthew Cooper", it is tough to make the case that the incompetence wasn't intentional in this case."

a. it depends upon the document request.
b. it depends upon how the search was conducted.
c. it depends upon the text of the actual e-mail. (for example, what if it said "talk w/ m.c." in the header?)
d. they could have simply missed a directory the first time around.

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Today's Rosemary Woods, if there is such a person, is probably already in Gitmo, just in case.

Posted by: Robert Paehlke on February 1, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Those emails also exist on the file servers (and their backups)of any system that they were sent from, sent to, or copied to.

The truth is out there.

Posted by: Keith G on February 1, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

What deserves some follow up is why we are so busy idolizing Fitzgerald for this pathetic excuse for an "investigation".

Novak walks the streets. Nothing has even hinted at being done to the mastermind of all this, Cheney. Rove has the ability to go back in front of the grand jury as many times as he needs to get his story straight.

All we have is BS lying charges against Libby that are easily spun away by the whore media and wingnut wurlitzer. This "investigation" has been going on for 2 years.

The emails are another example where we should be enraged. Yet, the left looks on like adoring cowards. The ones that complain about sock puppets like Loserman and Biden should look in the mirror.

I got flamed on firedoglake for this opinion, so I am used to it.

The fix is in. It will be complete when Libby gets off. Let's all cheer.

Posted by: Chris on February 1, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Now why wasn't that information made public before? It seems to me that if the investigation has been stymied by the fact there are missing emails not in the archive that that might be an admission of something to hide.

Now, if I were Fitzgerald, I'd go back and ask anyone who had access to those systems, under oath mind you, if they had

1) Access to those systems.
2) Were aware of any unauthorized access to those systems.
3) Were aware of any unwritten or "traditional" communication archiving policies that were or were not common knowledge.
4) Knew of any specific reasons or communications that might have resulted in someone attempting to erase those messages.
5) Knew of any individuals specifically or in general who might have had a reason to erase those messages or any other written or recorded transcripts of deliberations or conversations to thwart a legal investigation.
6) Know of someone who might know more about the archiving system and how it worked, especially if that person was not on the regular staff.
7) Knowledge of any other instances, periods of time, or other occassions in which email archives may have been tampered with or know of any other occassion where the temptation to tamper with email and other official or private correspondence might have been reasonable to assume.
8) Knowledge that such tampering with archives occurred as a result and who the individuals involved were or might be or information that might lead to identifying those indviduals.
9) Be aware of any directives, written or verbal or communicated in any other fashion that would have authorized such tampering from either the OOP, OOVP, NSC, Department of State, CIA, of DoJ, or any other organization or individuals supposedly qualified to make such decisions or determinations under existing statute or otherwise, legal opinions, etc that might have been used to justify the removal of information regarding this investigation, or any other legal investigation, to avoid legal culpability, political embarassment, or for any other personal or political reason, real or imagined?
10) Any communications, public or private, in any fashion with any other person or entities, identified or anonymous, regarding the destruction of information surrounding internal deliberations, internal communications, policy directives, and other pertinent communications that might jeopardize the National Security of the United States or willfully violate any statutes, known or unknown at the time to the deposed with regard to the retention of information, Presidential directives, administrative directives, or any other formal or informal retention policies that the deposed is aware of.
11) Are there any instances in which your opinion on the retention of government information was ignored or followed, any conversations that you participated in or aware of, whether there are notes or records still in existance of said conversations or communications, that a reasonable person would assume have bearing on this investigation?

Certainly, at the very least, Fitzgerald's office should give the public the current Administration's position on why those emails are missing...the fact that they are missing may be an accident...but that's for reasonable people to decide...before an election, not after.

Posted by: parrot on February 1, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Optimist.

Posted by: Scorpio on February 1, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Parrot,

You are getting dangerously close to criticizing our hero Fitz.

Posted by: Chris on February 1, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Stop picking on Freedom F#cker, he tried to join the military but that damn anal cyst thing....

Posted by: cq on February 1, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Jason Leopold reported this very story more than a month ago. He has proven to be the most reliable reporter on this case.

http://rawstory.com/ news/ 2005/ Fitzgerald_seen_to_press_for_Rove_1213.html

Fitzgerald was long suspicious Rove had hidden evidence; Not swayed by last minute testimony, lawyers say

Jason Leopold

A few weeks after he took over the investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson in early 2004, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had already become suspicious that Karl Rove and Vice President Cheneys then-chief of staff I. Lewis Scooter Libby were hindering his investigation.

Posted by: harry shep on February 1, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

parrot:

ah...leaving aside the obvious vagueness and overbroadness objections, I would get 5 and 7 tossed immediately.

beyond that....um, it is not up to public opinion to adjudicate a discovery dispute...in fact, courts stay out of it as much as possible. this stuff is usually resolved between the parties. if Fitzgerald comes up with evidence of deliberate evidence tampering, then he will seek the appropriate charges. believe it or not, but I highly doubt that there is an electronic discovery process taking place in the country that does not include letters in the "we expected to see this but its not there" variety. I've probably been involved in 20 different electronic discovery proceedings and I've never not seen it.
You might want to ask an actual litigator about this before demanding that Fitzgerald release correspondence to the public.

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

harry shep:

how has Raw Story been the "most reliable" on the Plame matter? people have posted numerous links to Raw Story articles in here that have turned out to be completely (or nearly) false....

Posted by: Nathan on February 1, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

I bet the NSA has those emails.

Posted by: craigie on February 1, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

I bet the NSA has those emails.

Doubtful, unless Quakers, French people or Ed Corddry were among the correspondents.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

nathan
Well, they're wrong. How could someone say that Raw Story has been completely wrong or the stories false if no one else is following up? That's story i posted above proves that it's true. I just don't understand how people could make comments on media reports based on nothing. We preach about indy media and the shortsidedness of the mainstream but when an indy media outlet does good work we simply tear em apart and say that if it were true it would be in the WaPo or NYT. I don't get it. Just my two cents. But I disagree with the other posters in that raw story's reports are false. No one in the media or in the prosecution has disputed the validity of it. Only commenters. And how the heck would the commenters on here know what is happening. they're not reporters.

Posted by: harry shep on February 1, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Leopold has been doing some good reporting but he is hardly infallible, and I read everything he publishes with as much skepticism as I read stories published in the NYT and the Post.

See emptywheel's analysis here of his last big scoop:

http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/01/reading_compreh.html

Posted by: a on February 1, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

If Fitz has hard drives with "deleted" files, he'll have fun with that. No I'm not talking about hastily deleted files than can be recovered readily with off-the-shelf utilities. Even very carefully deleted and thoroughly overwritten files can still be recovered using electron microscopes and other current expensive forensic techniques. The only way to "completely" erase a disk - against the really advanced recovery techniques - is to destroy it.

But maybe Rove and crew did an "end run" around the WH email archiving process by using web mail and "outside" email accounts?

This is an interesting statement bhy Fitz at any rate.

Posted by: baked potato on February 1, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to "completely" erase a disk - against the really advanced recovery techniques - is to destroy it.

Sorry, write-over a file five or seven times with libc's linear congruential pseudorandom number generator seeded with the time in miliseconds, and it's gone.

Posted by: JamesP on February 1, 2006 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for the missing evidence, er I mean emails. Someone probably just happened to misplace them... you know, like Bush's military attendance records.

Posted by: melior on February 1, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Libby's discovery requests have nothing to do with the charges against him. He's been indicted on perjury and obstruction charges, not anything having to do with the actual outing of a CIA agent.

His discovery requests are a fishing expedition, to see what information Fitz has regarding the espionage issue - and whatever he learns Fitz has, he'll tell the WH, to give them a heads up on whether Fitz is looking at any espionage-related indictments, and against whom.

Fitz is nobody's fool, and in his response to the discovery request, makes it very clear (repeatedly) that he won't release any materials irrelevant to the actual indictment. (His response letter is a masterpiece of lawyerly snark, BTW, well worth the read. Apparently, Libby's lawyers asked for records relating to witnesses' juvenile records, for reasons that passeth understanding.)

But it's up to a judge to rule, ultimately, on what needs to be turned over, and it'll be interesting to see what the judge decides. I don't know who the judge on this case is, or anything about him/her.

Posted by: CaseyL on February 1, 2006 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

After the disappearing -- and recovered -- emails in the '90's, electronic documents originating in the White House were placed under the same preservation status as paper documents, including no destruction without the approval of the National Archives, which is probably why, in 2004, in an unprecidented fashion, that office was suddenly politicized.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on February 1, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

I love the banter back and forth about warrantless wiretaps. Its legal, no its not legal.

Its like eating the slice of cake first and saving the icing of impeachment for last.

Posted by: Sideline on February 1, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah...if only Bob Woodward were still alive.

Posted by: brucds on February 2, 2006 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

And there are how many 18 minute gaps?

Conservatives are traditional, you know.

Posted by: Rick B on February 2, 2006 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: I think Kevin meant to say: "paging Dan Rather and Mary Mapes".

Neither of whom destroyed evidence.

Both of whom were punished for their improper actions.

Actually they were both punished for their accurate reporting. Not perfect reporting, but pervection cannot be achieved and can't be expected in day-to-day reporting. They found the information, vetted it exgtensively, and reported it. Read Mary Mapes new book. The facts they reported still stand up. The criticisms don't.

None of the criticisms of the type faces are accurate. The content was verified as true by the Lt.C's secretary, though she did not recall typing the particular documents involved. Noone has ever successfully debunked to content of the documents.

Ben Barnes still stands by his testimony that he got Bush into the Guard over at least 100 more qualified applicants. Bush got into the Guard on favoritism, was protected from his own failures while in the Guard, failed to perform his promised tour of duty, and was given an honorable discharge in spite of having not completed his tour as promised by exactly the same set of favoritisms that got him in there in the first place.

Mary Mapes did excellent journalism, and Dan Rather reported it. Journalists agree that it was VIACOM executives who wanted the controversy to go away and made Mapes the "fall guy."

It was a classic example of the corporations who have taken over journalism failing to do real journalism.

Posted by: Rick B on February 2, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

No. Destroying evidence is legal.
Clinton smoked the cigar he stuck in Monica didn't he?

Posted by: McA on February 2, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Right, McA, Clinton! How could we forget what a criminal that guy was? His behavior excuses every Republican crime forever!

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 2, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

If Fitz has hard drives with "deleted" files, he'll have fun with that.

Some other blogs are speculating that he has actual hard copies of the e-mails that were deleted, provided to him by some informant desperately trying to save his own skin - er, ah, I mean a law-abiding citizen horrified at the illegal antics of the Vice-President's office.

Posted by: tam1MI on February 2, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Relax, Ace Franze, that's McA's way of saying he agrees with us that this is horse sh*t, but he wanted to get past the international wingnut filter. We're on to you, McA! You big softie ...

Posted by: Matt on February 2, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

The e-mails aren't missing

Their content has simply been denied to the Special Prosecutor. We really already knew this, as it was reported somne time ago that the Special Prosecutor had to request e-mails individually, with approval for release determined by screening from WH lawyers. Obviously, some of the e-mails were denied to the Special Prosecutor after such screening, and placed in some archive outside the normal process. Fitz presumably knows of the existence of these e-mails, though, because they presumably gave him, as a preliminary, to serve as a basis for his formulating a list of e-mails whose content he wished to see, a log of e-mails among certain folks within certain dates. This all bespeaks, not the destruction of evidence by individual guilty parties, but a WH policy to withhold evidence, presumably on the grounds of executive privilege.

To put this in context -- if the Special Prosecutor were dealing with an ordinary criminal, he would have obtained and executed a warrant to confiscate all hard drives with potentially relevant evidence, or at least complete ghosts of such drives. His computer forensic guys would then have "searched" the hard drives for relevant evidence. This clearly did not happen in this case, and presumably because the WH asserted executive privilege, the necessity to keep the internal workings of WH policy advice secret in order to protect the free flow of frank advice to the President. Presumably, Fitz has not publically agitated against this assertion because even mentioning the assertion of executive privilege is itself considered privileged information, against which DoJ likely has some policy. He is not an Independent Counsel, and does work for these guys, and has to follow DoJ policies, lest he give them a legitimate pretence to fire him. But the rather gratuitous, "abundance of caution" surfacing of this executive privilege issue in this public record letter to Libby's attorneys is rather clear evidence that he is doing his best to keep the public informed. We just have to interpret the tea leaves for him to the public.

Posted by: Glen Tomkins on February 2, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting post, Glen, thanks. But y'all help me understand why this would be true:

Presumably, Fitz has not publically agitated against this assertion because even mentioning the assertion of executive privilege is itself considered privileged information, against which DoJ likely has some policy.

If I remember my readings correctly, both Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworksi publicly discussed the tug-of-war over executive privilege they had with the Nixon WH. Jaworski took it to the SC. I'm not understanding why Fitzgerald would be so constrained.

Posted by: shortstop on February 2, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: movie on February 2, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

It does if you go back and do a scrub of your hard drive's empty spaces.

and

Those emails also exist on the file servers (and their backups) of any system that they were sent from, sent to, or copied to.

Not to get all techno-dweebish with this group, but the White House and Executive Office Bldg. mail servers must have a nightly tape drive or disk back-up process (for Gods sakes its the most important office complex in the world). These daily tapes would allow a technically savvy technician to recover any e-mail that ever went across the network. E-mails do not typically reside on an individuals hard drive, as someone asserted. If Fitzgerald is smart and persistent and has access to forensic IT people, he can recover those e-mails. If not, the American people should demand a new IT administrator and new disaster recovery procedures and processes for these very important government office buildings. Further, those e-mails belong to the American people, Bush and Cheneys employers, just like the notes from Cheneys Energy Task Force, which we have never been allowed to see.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 2, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Carl H. wrote:
"These guys are so not clued in to the fact that the delete thingy doesn't actually, like you know, delete."

Jeff II responded:
"It does it you go back a do a scrub of your hard drive's empty spaces. Otherwise, he's going to have to get a warrant to get several people's computers. I'm sure he'll get lots of cooperation on that."

Posted by: Jeff II on February 1, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK


OTOH, if the disk(s) is(are) scrubbed, then that would be pretty firm evidence of something hinky. I mean, if there was no intent to hide the emails, then they wouldn't need to be scrubbing disks would they?

Sadly, knowing something illegal probably happened isn't likely to be admissible evidence in court that something DID happen. Where's Ollie North when you need him to shred a bunch of papers?

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