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Tilting at Windmills

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February 19, 2009

HOUSE GOP DISCOVERS THE IMPORTANCE OF WH EMAILS.... I'm sorry, the Irony-O-Meter I keep on my desk just burst into flames.

A California Republican congressman has called on President Obama to put in place a system that ensures all White House emails be preserved even if official business was done through private e- mail accounts.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the senior Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made the request in a February 19 letter to White House Counsel Greg Craig.

Issa specifically mentioned the new administration's brief use of Gmail accounts after Obama was sworn in last month, as they waited for the official White House e-mail accounts to become active.

"As you know, any e-mail sent or received by White House officials may be subject to retention under the Presidential Records Act (PRA)," Issa wrote Craig in the letter.

"The use of personal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail to conduct official business raises the prospect that presidential records will not be captured by the White House e-mail archiving system. Consequently Gmail users on the President's staff run the risk of incorrectly classifying their e-mails as non-records under the [Presidential Records] Act."

Issa, easily a #2 seed on my bracket for Most Ridiculous Member of Congress competition, also asked the White House to respond to a series of additional questions about the administration's email archiving. He said the answers are due in two weeks.

The irony, of course, is that Issa couldn't care less about an actual scandal regarding White House emailing archiving. Bushies lost untold thousands of emails, with no archive or backups. Indeed, the former president's team deliberately created a "primitive" email system that created a high risk that data would be lost -- there was "no automatic system to ensure that e-mails were archived and preserved."

Perhaps most startling of all, the Bush Administration managed to dismantle, apparently on purpose, the Clinton Administration's email archive system -- which worked just fine -- without replacing it with anything at all.

When Henry Waxman raised concerns about all of this, Darrell Issa dismissed the questions as partisan sniping.

But now Issa is worried about the Obama White House failing to fully comply with the Presidential Records Act. Funny, up until recently, Issa preferred to pretend the Presidential Records Act didn't exist. I wonder what changed his mind?

Steve Benen 4:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

I think they're all bozos on the GOP bus.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 19, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus. What's next, Issa will suddenly be concerned for the rule of law?

Posted by: ckelly on February 19, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Issa we learning?

Issa any body there?

Issa anyone listening?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 19, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

So is this what the last throes looks like?

Posted by: NHCt on February 19, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Oh...he's so confused. Flash back to when he successfully funded the 'Total Recall' of Governor Davis only to have Schwarzenegger step into the race in his stead. He hasn't been the same ever since...

Posted by: Jimrl8 on February 19, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

JFK - jeezous frigging chrissus...
... there should be an official response on the floor asking this doofus, on the record, why the lack of concern about the Chenesque-bushite admin.

WTF!

Posted by: sduffys on February 19, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

this must be the same Issa that invented the car alarm?

the same Issa that helped launch the 2003 CA recall movement? then visibly broke down when it was clear CA wouldn't usher him in as governor?

yeah, that guy.

Posted by: cjdquest on February 19, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I just railed this fuck-wit via his congressional website. What a dick, truly!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on February 19, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Feel free!

http://issa.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on February 19, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

OMG that is just... shoot, I can't come up with a word to describe my disbelief.. I'm going to send an email and tell this mother fucker to find Bu$h's lost emails before he starts firing off bullshit like this to the O man.

Posted by: citizen_pain on February 19, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, it makes perfect sense in Issa's pointy little head: any complaints about Bush not properly archiving his e-mail were just partisan bickering, so it's completely appropriate for him to continue the partisan bickering by demanding that Obama do what Bush shouldn't have had to do.

In other words, there's no principle here that we should be able to see what the president's up to. It's just that Obama is a Democrat, so Issa now has to do the exact opposite of everything he did when "his" president was in charge.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 19, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

You are a very good political reporter, Steve, but you are strangely naive about how Republicans operate. You expect them to apply the same rules to themselves as they do to their opponents, isn’t that what all fair minded people do? No, these are Republicans. Their creed is, whatever it takes to win. Like true believers in every path, politics, religion or whatever, they believe their side has the only truth and if they have to shade, cut, trim or lie to advance their cause, well so be it.

It is an old argument. The way it was expressed in Nixonian times was, the Republicans believed the ends can justify the means. The Democrats believed the means should justify the ends. That is how we got Watergate, etc., etc., etc.

Obama and the people who have been called to work for him believe the winners in the game of life will be those with the highest ideals, who play the game most fairly. To Republicans, that seems soft, but notice that as humanity evolves, the number of believers in their philosophy is shrinking...shrinking.


Posted by: James of DC on February 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

low-tech cyclist - I think they're all bozos on the GOP bus.

Yea...the Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take them away...waiting to take them away...take them today.

Posted by: whichwitch on February 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

whichwitch - More like the Rutles' "Tragical History Tour."

http://www.rutles.org/rpix/tht.jpg

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 19, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

When you put on the nose, it grows!

The problem with good governance post-Bush is that it has a conservative bias. Why should Democratic administrations expose themselves to scandal-mongering Republicans when Republicans aren´t even under any obligation to comply with the records act?

You can follow that yellow rubber line to a seriously dysfunctional government. It might even break the president.

Posted by: inkadu on February 19, 2009 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

I just sent this to Darrel Issa through the URL provided above:

Dear Mr. Issa,
First of all, your site misspelled Reverend (Revrend is not correct). I am not actually a minister, but a licensed Practitioner of the Science of Mind, but used the prefix, Revrend(sic), to point out this mistake.

What I am really writing about is your insistance that President Obama (Yes We Did) and his staff comply strictly with White House communication regulations with regard to email. Since when was this such an issue with you and your Republican colleagues? The Bush/Cheney White House has lost thousands if not millions of email communications, and no word from you demanding their compliance. What makes you think that Mr. Obama will continue the abuse of power that was so embedded in the previous occupant's administration?

Massive abuses of power & hypocrisy are the trademarks of the former White House occupants and the Republican Party. I don't expect a coherent response to this communication as there is none.

Clean your own house before inspecting that of another. You may find that once yours is in order, there will be no need to look elsewhere for blame laying. Be the example of that which you demand of others. You may find it much easier to have a conversation when you are not focused on finding fault with others, while you are not yet clear of fault.

With respect,

MyName

Posted by: st john on February 19, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is a joke, right? Where was this hypocritical rightwing nutjob Issa for the last 8 years? Freakin' unbelievable. Is there not one honest, not theiving, non corrupt, non hypocritical Republican anywhere? . . . . crickets

Posted by: Continuum on February 19, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Issa should be put in charge of the
Bush Error emailgate

Posted by: apeman on February 19, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

OOPS! I misspelled Darrell in my post. Instant Karma, as they say. I criticize him for a misspelling and laying blame outside, and it comes right back to me.

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on February 19, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

What would really stop this nonsense is to make Congressional e-mail subject to the same standards.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 19, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

There ought to be a fine for the most flagrant forms of political hypocrisy. Seriously, in many other professions, there are consequences for professional malfeasance. I don't see why politicians shouldn't be held to some sort of professional standard.

Posted by: Roq on February 19, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

OT: There are a lot of Firesign Theater fans commenting.

Posted by: Chuck on February 19, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Since I am not in the 49th Congressional District of Darrell Issa, my email was rejected. I was directed to call: (760) 599-5000. I suggest those interested in communicating with him call this number and speak to one of his staff. I did speak to a live person there.

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on February 19, 2009 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm too tired to try to be clever. Issa's an asshole. Issa knows he's an asshole. Only assholes vote for Issa and should fall headfirst in a bucket of SARS. Nothing about Issa is worth defending, and when he dies, salt the earth where he's buried lest anything that stupid attemp to grow there.

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 19, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, slappy, tell us what you really feel. It's OK, you can say what you feel here. We understand that sometimes words are inadequate to express the inner love we feel for another. Mr. Darrell Issa is a good human being, just doing the best he can, and those who vote for him are doing likewise.

We of higher intellect and moral stature must temper our criticism until we have walked a mile in the shoes of the ignorant and dysfunctional products of Intelligent Design. Good Christians everywhere are praying for Darrell, that his words and his good intentions will be heard by The One, and followed to the letter. Rush may hope for His failure, but he of the lesser mind can only hope.

May humor become a quality of Republicans everywhere, when they can laugh at themselves, as we are now laughing at them.

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on February 19, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Anther true man of quality reversing direction in the political winds.

So this how conservative beliefs leads one to act? Interesting. But not surprising in the least. This fraud of principle has been expected to show itself after the departure of the Bush Administration and here it is, right on cue.

Suddenly, the Right is shamelessly moral again. Suddenly, the media will begin reporting again. Suddenly, accountability will be tantamount again. Right on cue.

Posted by: Zli on February 19, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I see this sort of irony stuff coming from the righties all the time now. It might be Sean Hannity suddenly discovering how bad it is to serve the interests of Wall Street instead of Main Street and spewing populist diatribe - the same thing he would have berated as "class warfare" a year ago. It might be Mike the savage Wiener saying we should pull of Afghanistan, no US soldiers dying to prop up opium farmers etc. - a few years ago, it was rotten hippies that wanted to pull out of Iraq and leave it to the terrorists, etc. ad nauseum.

Posted by: Neil B ◙ on February 19, 2009 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

So what else would you do to start laying the Obama impeachment that is due this summer?
--ml

Posted by: Martin Langeland on February 19, 2009 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I keep Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative close at hand, just because the title is so hilarious.

Posted by: Monty on February 19, 2009 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Monty:
Ever notice that the Rethugs didn't call themselves Conservatives while Barry Goldwater was alive?

Posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

Since it is ironic for Republicans to be concerned, does that mean that the Obama administration can destroy all the emails that it wants to? Since the Democrats were concerned when Bush was in the White House, is it ironic that they are unconcerned now?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 19, 2009 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

You thought it would be good for the goose, so it has to be good for the gander

Posted by: Neo on February 19, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Since it is ironic for Republicans to be concerned, does that mean that the Obama administration can destroy all the emails that it wants to?

The answer is clearly "no."

Since the Democrats were concerned when Bush was in the White House, is it ironic that they are unconcerned now?

Well no, because Bush was singular in breaking the law, as Steve points out; Clinton had no problem preserving the records and there is no reason to believe Obama will.

Democrats aren't "unconcerned," it's just that no lawbreaking has occurred by the sitting President. After the shameful last eight years, that sounds weird to say, doesn't it?

Posted by: trex on February 19, 2009 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Irony: I don't think that word means what you think it means.


Try pecksniffian.

.

Posted by: locomotivebreath1901 on February 19, 2009 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think they're all bozos on the GOP bus. -- low-tech cyclist

"All out for Fort Stinkin' Desert!"

Posted by: beep52 on February 19, 2009 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

Darryl Issa had much to do with the overthrow of Gray Davis in California because of the Enron syphoning off of California energy money. He was instrumental in getting the recall in place. We were then stuck with an actor/bodybuilder who has run our state into the ground because he refuses to tax the wealthy. Darryl Issa is a snake.

Posted by: Meah Bottoms on February 19, 2009 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

We all know Marler and Neo are being disengenuous, but just to spell it out for them and any other trolls:

1) Yes, Obama should be expected to fully comply with the Presidential Records Act

2) There is absolutely no reason to believe he is not doing so or will not do so. The use Gmail accounts is specifically described as brief and due to delays in setting up accounts on the White House email system.

3) Issa has no standing whatsoever to demand answers from the Obama administration on this issue. He may be the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but during 6 years of Republican control of that committee, they held no more than 37 oversight hearings and issued just 3 subpoenas total for all of the scandals and crises during that period. Issa personally dismissed concerns about the Bush White House's blatant disregard for the PRA as "partisan sniping".

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 19, 2009 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is just the beginning. The Rethugs wll have the rulebook out for the next 4 years making it as difficult as possible for this President to do his job. Their bought and paid for MSM will pick this crap up and it will become the rallying call of the ignorant. Never mind there was zero oversight on Bush and Dickless so they got away with raping this country and this President just wants to help the victims.

Posted by: SteveA on February 19, 2009 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Given the Republicans well-established record of conducting endless hearing of Clinton, then completely ignoring waste, inefficiency and criminal behavior in the Bush White House, Democrats need to be very thorough in conducting appropriate oversight of the Obama administration while completely shutting the Republicans out of the process.

Posted by: tanstaafl on February 19, 2009 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Just like Gitmo, the e-mails will be done exactly like Bush 43 because of the "Hatch Act".
The only difference .. newer software.

Posted by: Neo on February 20, 2009 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

I think that's untold millions of E-mails. But otherwise good point.

Posted by: Jamie on February 20, 2009 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

Is the irony not lost? You just criticized Bush for not keeping the emails, then criticized Issa for wanting to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Sure, maybe Issa is being hypocritical for asking for it now, and not before. But you are just as hypocritical criticizing Bush, then criticizing Issa when he calls on Obama to do what you think Bush should have done!

It is irrelevant that you think Obama "has not broken the law" yet. If you think records should be preserved, then there is nothing wrong with making sure they are.

Posted by: PrivatePigg on February 20, 2009 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, maybe Issa is being hypocritical for asking for it now, and not before.

There's no "maybe" about it.

But you are just as hypocritical criticizing Bush, then criticizing Issa when he calls on Obama to do what you think Bush should have done!

No. Steve and the commentors here are criticizing Issa for his hypocrisy, not to mention his blatant partisanship. No one is suggesting Obama's emails shouldn't be preserved, or that Congress shouldn't exercise oversight of the White House. We're just pointing out yet another example of a Republican who was only too happy to rubber-stamp a criminally incompetent Republican President and now is acting all self-righteous now that a Democrat is in the White house.

Shorter me: it isn't hypocritical to call someone on doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Posted by: Gregory on February 20, 2009 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

Let's scrutinize all of Issa's emails. For that matter let's make sure all the GOPs emails are archived & looked through for crimes - bet that would employ a slew of people for decades. I am so sick of these whimp-ass GOPers coming out now as holy-rollers of the law. Go away.

Posted by: wom45 on February 20, 2009 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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