Monday, June 18, 2007

The lawlessness knows no bounds

Henry Waxman's going to town on the Republicans and he's coming up big: "White House Aides' E-Mail Records Gone." This is potentially a big problem for the Bushies...the Presidential Records Act imposes requirements on the President to ensure that all communications that inform government decision making be preserved. Rove and a pack of other White House staffers, however, used RNC and other political email accounts to conduct the preponderance of their business, it certainly appears. The question is how much of that email activity is purely political - which it would be OK to separate off - versus legitimate government business that they were conducting and that they were seeking to shield from such record keeping requirements. I'm sure Americans should just trust that Rove et al. exercised their judgment properly for these many years, hey? And that the old White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, saw to it that this law was abided by, right? Lol...

Here are the gory details:
The Oversight Committee has been investigating whether White House officials violated the Presidential Records Act by using e-mail accounts maintained by the Republican National Committee and the Bush Cheney ‘04 campaign for official White House communications.
...
White House officials made extensive use of their RNC e-mail accounts. The RNC has preserved 140,216 e-mails sent or received by Karl Rove. Over half of these e-mails (75,374) were sent to or received from individuals using official “.gov” e-mail accounts. Other heavy users of RNC e-mail accounts include former White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor (66,018 e-mails) and Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings (35,198 e-mails). These e-mail accounts were used by White House officials for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.

There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC. Of the 88 White House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials.
...
The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Mr. Rove during President Bush’s first term and no e-mails sent by Mr. Rove prior to November 2003. For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006.

There is evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.
And so what is the import of all this? Chairman Waxman reports as follows:
At this point in the investigation, it is not possible to determine precisely how many presidential records may have been destroyed by the RNC. Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.
Rove, Gonzales and Bush have repeatedly thumbed their noses at Americans. This Records Act exists for many reasons - historical accountability and transparency among them - and these initial findings are unfortunately consistent with the Bushies' abhorrence for the rule of law. They really don't give a s*%#.

The question is, what's going to be done about it now that it's being exposed? Waxman's laid out his plan, good luck to him...