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Author Topic: democrats take power and vow investigation -> Bush admin. "looses" 5 million emails
Sampler
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Astounding.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/04/13/white.house.email/


quote:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Millions of White House e-mails may be missing, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acknowledged Friday.

"I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million e-mails lost," Perino told reporters.

The administration was already facing sharp questions about whether top presidential advisers including Karl Rove improperly used Republican National Committee e-mail that the White House said later disappeared.

The latest comments were a response to a new report from a liberal watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), alleging that over a two-year period official White House e-mail traffic for hundreds of days has vanished -- in possible violation of the federal Presidential Records Act. (Watch CREW's comments on the missing messages Video)

"This story is really now a two-part issue," CREW's Melanie Sloan told CNN. "First there's the use of the RNC e-mail server that's inappropriate by White House officials and secondly we've also learned that there were between March of 2003 and October of 2005 apparently over 5 million e-mail that were not preserved and these are e-mail on the regular White House server."

Perino stressed there's no indication the e-mails were intentionally lost, but she was careful not to dispute the outside group's allegations. "I'm not taking issue with their conclusions at this point," Perino said. "We're checking into them. There are 1,700 people in the Executive Office of the President."
White House: 'We screwed up'

Perino's disclosure about the White House e-mail comes a day after she admitted that the White House "screwed up" by not requiring e-mails from Republican Party and campaign accounts to be saved and was also trying to recover those e-mails.

Perino said 22 aides in the political arm of the president's office use party or campaign e-mail accounts, which were issued to separate official business from political work. Some of those accounts were used to discuss the December firings of eight federal prosecutors, a shake-up that has triggered a spreading controversy on Capitol Hill.

Congressional investigators have questioned whether White House aides used e-mail accounts from the Republican Party and President Bush's re-election campaign for official government business to avoid scrutiny of those dealings.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused the White House of trying to hide messages on the Republican Party system related to the firing of the U.S. attorneys, which has stirred up a hornet's nest on Capitol Hill.

"You can't erase e-mails, not today," said Leahy, D-Vermont. "They've gone through too many servers. They can't say they've been lost. That's like saying, 'The dog ate my homework.' " (Watch Leahy compare e-mails to Nixon tapes Video)

Leahy said the e-mails would have remained on party or campaign computer servers, and he compared the situation to the famous 18½-minute gap in one of the Watergate tapes.

"They're there," he said. "They know they're there, and we'll subpoena them, if necessary, and we'll have them."

Perino told reporters that the e-mails from those accounts should have been saved, but said policy has not kept pace with technology. She said computer experts were trying to retrieve any records that have been deleted.

"We screwed up, and we're trying to fix it," she told reporters.
E-mails sought by special prosecutor also missing

Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case, disclosed last year that some White House e-mails in 2003 were not saved as standard procedure dictated.

In a January 23, 2006, letter to the defense team of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald wrote: "We advise you that we have learned that not all e-mail 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."

Robert Luskin, personal attorney for Rove, told CNN Friday that he "has no reason to doubt" Fitzgerald's assertion that some White House e-mail was missing.

"You're quite right," Luskin said in a telephone interview. "There was a gap there."

Democrats charge this raises questions about whether the public has gotten the full story on everything from the CIA leak case to the fired U.S. attorneys controversy.

"The biggest problem here is really that here is a White House that is deliberately violating an existing statute that requires them to preserve all records," said Sloan. "And we have significant evidence now both from the RNC e-mail and the White House e-mail that are missing that the White House was using every means possible to avoid complying with the law."

Luskin said it was "foolish speculation" for CREW -- which serves as counsel to former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, in a private suit against Rove and other Bush officials -- to suggest that the gap in White House e-mail helped Rove avoid indictment in the CIA leak case. Luskin said Fitzgerald told him that Rove was cleared in the case because he "did nothing wrong."

Luskin added that until this month, Rove believed his RNC e-mail was being archived and did nothing wrong.

"Rove has always understood from very early on in the Bush administration that RNC and campaign e-mail were being archived," said Luskin. "He was absolutely unaware until very, very recently that any e-mails were lost. And he never asked that e-mails be deleted or asked for the authority to delete e-mails."

As I understand it destroying documents in this context has been a more serious crime ever since Watergate, correct?

Who should be held responsible for this, especially since it impedes not just the investigation that uncovered it, but probably every other scandal that Bush & co. were going to get nailed on too? The Bush admin. admits they should not have lost the emails, so is this just going to be another incident that winds up sometime in the future headlines of "Bush screws up, nothing really happens"?


Seriously, this is almost akin to the Axis sending out detachments of soldiers in droves to systematically burn documents as the Allies got closer.

[ April 13, 2007, 08:51 PM: Message edited by: Sampler ]

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gruevy
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I'm not saying that I have an opinion one way or the other about the veracity of this article, but I will say that the democrats just LOVE to spread our national secrets all over the media, and if this is to prevent that from happening, than go for it. [Razz]
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Sampler
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quote:
Originally posted by gruevy:
I'm not saying that I have an opinion one way or the other about the veracity of this article, but I will say that the democrats just LOVE to spread our national secrets all over the media, and if this is to prevent that from happening, than go for it. [Razz]

Even if it's against the rule of law?
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gruevy
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Like what?
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KnightEnder
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Very convenient, neh? (big of you gruevy (and patriotic, not at all partisan) to find the 'bright' side in what may be one of the biggest, definitely the most recent [Wink] , Bush admin scandals.

KE

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KnightEnder
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Emails are never "really" gone. [Smile]

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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Is anyone really surprized?

But like KE said.

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TomDavidson
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You know, I don't get this "emails are never really gone" thing. I'm speaking as a network admin, here; it's DEFINITELY possible for emails to be "really" gone, especially if we're talking about -- as we seem to be here -- webmail hosted by another carrier.
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DaveS
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They could be gone, but they passed through servers on the way out and in the delivery. There should be an audit log that can be used as a starting point on the RNC site. If they destroyed that, then they are at least dirty, and maybe criminal. But, we all know that they did this on purpose and Perino is the new stooge who replaced the old stooge and is supposed to whack herself in the forehead and say "Gosh, we shure messed up, ha ha ha..."

Ranton, this is the most corrupt administration I've ever witnessed, not because of personal greed, but because they really, truly, deeply believe that they have the power to remake the rules any way they see fit. Nixon never dreamed so big. The list of ways they have perverted the "system" to their advantage is unbelievably long. This is the first Imperial Presidency. Rantoff.

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RickyB
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"And the fools
sure do love the power

They believe,
and they help it to tower

Who will save you when
you finally find out

He doesn't break for red lights?"

- Shalom Chanoch, "Doesn't Break for Red"

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
You know, I don't get this "emails are never really gone" thing. I'm speaking as a network admin, here; it's DEFINITELY possible for emails to be "really" gone, especially if we're talking about -- as we seem to be here -- webmail hosted by another carrier.
They're "gone" in the sense that no business except in very exceptional circumstances would pay for their recovery. But forensic analysis of the drives the email was stored on could almost certainly recover a large quantity of "lost" email. Unless of course they were deliberately wiped. See Helix, for instance. I sure there are even better tools out there for a price.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by gruevy:
I'm not saying that I have an opinion one way or the other about the veracity of this article, but I will say that the democrats just LOVE to spread our national secrets all over the media, and if this is to prevent that from happening, than go for it. [Razz]

Of course gruevy, you're absolutely right. It's imperative that we make it as hard as possible for governments to be made transparent and accountable to the public to minimise any possibility of wrongdoing or negligence. How dare those mean old Democrats keep looking around for proof of what's going wrong instead of blindly taking the government's word that it's not doing anything wrong?
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Redskullvw
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Honestly, do political parties want to have their emails become subject to public disclosure? If it was on the RNC email system, the Democrats can shout whatever they want. I do not think it is a good idea to allow or cause to be allowed disclosure of political emails- even if those emails potentially were written by or sent to administration figures.

Case in point by every day example. I am sure many of you have a corporate email. You use that email only for official conduct of your business. I am quite sure though that many of you talk with clients and contacts via your own personal email to send things like jokes, off the record comments, or even discuss thing outside the scope of normal business. It is also quite common for people to use non-employer email systems to set up planning and action groups in private without employer oversight-even if such actions ultimately are intended for implementation at the employer.

I think that if we make this a criminal investigatio you are going to set the precedent for allowing people to have only one email address. That people must conduct all their dealings through this one address. And people will be compelled to be unable to write correspondence of any sensitive or policy nature at all without risking federa oversight of the content.

Not a good idea.

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Everard
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Redskull-
You realizing you are arguing that it is ok for the bush administration to violate the law? And all future administrations to do so as well?

Disagree with the law, if you want. But, a law appears to have been broken, and should be investigated.

White house business is supposed to be conducted in a certain way, and communications are supposed to be saved, so we have transparency.

You are arguing that the white house should be able to circumvent transparency by violating laws established to help ensure that we can hold our administrations accountable for their actions.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It is also quite common for people to use non-employer email systems to set up planning and action groups in private without employer oversight-even if such actions ultimately are intended for implementation at the employer.
The law specifically forbids federal employees from doing this.
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DaveS
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quote:
Honestly, do political parties want to have their emails become subject to public disclosure? If it was on the RNC email system, the Democrats can shout whatever they want.
If the intent is to circumvent laws requiring emails pertaining to their official government business be retained, absolutely. Given the way this Administration has done everything possible to keep their activities hidden from oversight and accountability, there is plenty of room for suspicion. Not to mention that millions of emails were accidentally deleted from official WH systems. That goes way beyond an OOPS.

Red, I know you're a conservative hawk, but this is the first time I'm seeing out and out party partisanship from you.

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kenmeer livermaile
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An ionteresting facet is that the Hatch Act (which is the violated law referred to in this context) was originally passed in response to alleged Democratic party misuse of by Federal employees of government facilities to promote partisan agendas.

Here's some details affecting the relationship between Rove, the RNC email system, the Fed email system, and the Hatch Act:

Bicameral Email System

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RickyB
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It's not "subject to public disclosure", it's "available under certain circumstances to investigative and judicial bodies, and therefore maintained so as to be available if need be".

Get the slight distinction?

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Sampler
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Redskull, you realize they were illegally using the RNC mail system for normal government emails, right? That is part of their admission too.
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KnightEnder
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Red, I was flown to Dallas on a days notice for an innocuous email I wrote on my company computer. So, I know it sucks. But isn't tranparancy and finding the truth the most important thing here? Noted: I realize I'm biased because I hate Bush.

For the curious: I said to a friend jokingly; "I don't think they are really sure they are going to keep me yet. They haven't even printed me business cards yet."

Needless to say I didn't stay there very long.

KE

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Redskullvw
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I know this people. However the issue is legitimately freedom of advisment to the president. Technology has not come up with a way to allow emial to be completely digested, sorted and contained based upon content and origins. If Karl Rove included in an email a laundry list of policy and orders from the president- and then innocuously included a phrase such as " did you get the campaign material I sent you by snail mail" he is breaking a law which says you cant conduct any campaign items or functions at all with federal resources.

So how do you get around it? You create emails that allow you to converse the way normal people do. You leave the offical email address for purely formal purposes. You don't us it to ask the press secretary to convince the first lady to not wear that awful red dress again to the next state dinner. You use a email that allows for private advisment without oversight.

The issue of email liability is all the rage right now. To such an extent that companies I realizing that to comply with federal law, they may have to hire someone to read, sort, compartmentalize, catalog, and permanently store all emails essentialy forever. Thats absoultely chilling in effect upon comunications, even internal ones. And the liability laws as a provider of email as a tool or service is placing open the possibility that a company or individual is and has to be fully compliant with all laws including things like EEOC communications. Meaning a company joke email with a single off color joke is grounds for federal penalties. And since you cannot delete emails to comply with such things as HIPPA and SarBox laws, the potential exists that decades after that joke mail was sent, a lawyer could get a judge to grant him access to an archive of a companie's email- and notice the retained joke email.

You can't communicate if you know everything you say is a permanent record. And that is what is going on here. I don't want a president to have advisors who cannot offer candid advice off the record. It also is leading to a case where there is only one party line version of what happened-ie the official sanctioned and documented email transmissions. Yet they will be devoid of any contrarian content or honest advice to the president. Constitutionally Presidents are allowed the advice of their cabinet. This law has unintentionally had an impact where the President cannot be so advised because his administration rightly has fears that their advisments cannot be comunicated in privacy.

What you are supporting is a further diminuation of Presidential authority.

Lots more to write just don't have the time to even spell check or even read most of what you all said.

Frankly I'm just losing interest period.

Nutshell. Its bad that the RNC emails are gone. It is potentialy ileagal for an administration member to use anything other than his official email address as the law is written. It is also against the law for someone to conduct party politics with government resources. Which makes for a chicken egg problem. I am an employye and must use the official email-yet I am not allowed to discus party politics using governmental resources. Solution? try and keep the two seperate and archive both. But if I were a political party I would inform the FCC and FEC that my party will either destroy all emails after 30 days or turn over all emails to the government to store at the governments own expense. And I would possibly cease using anything other than certified letter to conduct any information exchanges.

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TomDavidson
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As I've said before, I see no reason why people should feel entitled to "free advisement" to the president. I think it's a ridiculous idea. When you say, "You can't communicate if you know everything you say is a permanent record," I ask, "Why not?" I don't want my president receiving advice from his advisors that they'd be ashamed to own up to in public.

[ April 14, 2007, 04:30 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Redskullvw
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Tom

Washington, Jefferson and Adams all established the precedent of advisement rights, privacy, and freedom from congressional oversight into and pertaining to how a president arrives at his policy decisions. In fact had advisement not been an accepted basis of our government, I would guess Lincoln's kitchen cabinet would not have advised him on how to win the war, or for that matter LBJ would never have backed the Civil Rights laws and policies.

In both cases what their advisors were telling them in private to do, would have been absolutely scandalous if it had become public knowledge before either president had been ready to act. And in both cases the outcome would have been much different. I'd be living in the CSA rights now, and LBJ would never have had to be president nor even listen to his advisors that giving black people rights was a moral thing to do even though it was political suicide at the time.

So yeah I understand why you are against even a weak executive, but in this case, unless you want to fundamentally change how our government works, the unintended consequences of this round of technology laws has created an environment where advising the president will become almost impossible to do- thereby limiting what advice a president can get and from whom it can be garnered.

Its a shame the RNC emails are gone, but should this go to the supreme court eventually as a challenge to the executive by the legislative with curia amici status to the RNC ,the law should be overturned because it is essentially impossible to comply with it and more importantly it takes away a central power and right that has existed since even before the creation of the republic's executive.

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Sampler
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RS, if I may ask, why do you think it is impossible to comply with the law? Is it due to the immense storage required for electronic messages? If so, then it seems the government is being quite unreasonable in requiring ISPs and other servers out there to retain data for longer and longer periods of time.

But I am still confused as to why you think the mere existence of archived communications in some way threatens the executive's ability to get good advice. Is it not so that under the current system those documents cannot be perused, that congress has to know exactly what it is looking for before it can search through them?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
In both cases what their advisors were telling them in private to do, would have been absolutely scandalous if it had become public knowledge before either president had been ready to act.
But we're talking about archives, Red, and not things released for consumption immediately. These sorts of notes and conferences should be logged and available to subpoena and Presidential Libraries and historians.

I'm not saying that the "common folk" necessarily need to know that, God forbid, George Bush is being told by his people that there's nothing wrong with illegal aliens. But I'm saying that I can't think of any good reason why we shouldn't have a documented record of that advice available to the public ten years after he leaves office.

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KnightEnder
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Tom, on the flip side they may exonerate Bush. That would suck.

Recovered email 20 years later:

"Dear Dickey Boy,

I think your idea to shift the war from Afghanistan to Iraq is a bad one. We should rebuild that country before pulling our troops out. And I am suspicious of the 'evidence' on WMD's that you and the CIA have provided. I strongly think we should hold off until we are certain. Let's give Hans and the boys a little more time. War should only be used as a last result IMO..

I mean, we need some time to plan. We don't even have a game plan for after when we whoop'em. Isn't that important? I mean, we can't get in, until we can get out.. Heh, heh. We don't want to leave that place in worse shape than when we found it now do we? You remember the old saying; measure once, cut twice? [Smile]

Your buddy,
W"

Reply

"Georgie,

Trust me. Your father will be proud of you, and you will be protecting the country you love so dearly. I and Rummy will take care of all the details. We will be greeted as liberators and the world will love us. You will be remembered as one of the greatest and most loved presidents of all time. Even more loved than your father and Reagan put together. Your country needs this. As for a post war strategy; don't worry about that. The Iraqis will rise up and come together as soon as Sadaam is gone.

PS, I know your father kept you out of Vietnam over your constant and vehement protestations (which I know drove you to drink and abuse drugs), but this is your chance to serve your country. SAVE your country in fact. We have incontrovertible evidence that not only does Sadaam have WMD's but he was behind 9-11, and now he is planning on giving nukes to Bin Laden and any other terrorists that seek to hurt the country you have sworn to protect.

Remember, you are a great man, despite your horror at speaking in public, and soon the world will realize that. (And don't worry about your seeming inability to think straight when addressing large crowds. In fact, it helps our country by luring our enemies into a false sense of security.) Your actions will prove your great intellect, and say what you are unable to articulate in front of the cameras.

You're a good boy. And you will be remembered as a great president. Worse comes to worse and I personally will take responsibility for any minor glitches that might arise. But trust me; nothing will go wrong. Again, trust me son.

Dick"

Whaa, whaa!

KE

[ April 15, 2007, 12:01 AM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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RickyB
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Redskull, enough already. That's not what we're talking about. When Clinton was investigated, he turned stuff over. I don't recall him claiming he lost 5 million emails, or even memos.

"Can't"? get another motherfocking job. Curious George does NOT get to decide which of the laws governing his conduct he can or cannot comply with.

You want to overturn the law? Fine. Challenge it in court. And if the court says you're wrong? Hmmmm? What then?

Your argument about free advice held SOME water when it was private and civilian entities wanting information, like the energy task force lawsuit, and indeed the court agreed (much to my chagrin, but I can see why). However, this is congress investigating. This is like a court subpoena. Yes, even if you advise the president, if the court (or in this case congress, sitting as an investigative body) want to know, they have a right to. Nixon already found that out.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"f Karl Rove included in an email a laundry list of policy and orders from the president- and then innocuously included a phrase such as " did you get the campaign material I sent you by snail mail" he is breaking a law which says you cant conduct any campaign items or functions at all with federal resources."

From what I researched yesterday, the law is actually quite accommodating in that regard.

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Redskullvw
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Ricky

I don't think I ever even mentioned Clinton.

As to congress having a "right" to know-constitutionally and in practice they don't. As Executive courtesy, the executive may comply with such request- but it doesn't have to comply as a matter of law, nor do individuals have to comply. Unless, and only unless the judiciary gets involved and authorizes a subpeona. Congressional subpeonas are such in name only. You do have to present yourself or your legal reoresentative, but you are under no obligation to say or do anything else.

The issue is what to archive, how to archive and what qualifies as protected communication. As the law is written, the archiving essentially includes ever single shred of communication-even if it was considered confidential communications under earlier technologies. The issue of the executive archiving itself, is not the issue. All executives have done so in the past. The issue is that anyone can claim that the executive has not archived everything, and can request the archives be inspected while the president is still in office and the communication still is actionable in terms of executive policy.

I konw it is fashionable to want to have an executive held to diminished capacities, but this law- and the series of laws attempting to regulate computer communication and archiving- is proving almost impossible for any private or public company or agency to comply with. Essentially almost any company that uses computers for communication right now is breaking at least some part of the laws that Congress enacted. Further, when you add in the Executive's right to private internal communication-regardless of subject- the Congress has essentially set up a law that is impractical, inherently onerous, inherently unconstitutional, and allows Congress to investigate the President's actions and consultations in almost real time oversight. Something which the framers of the Constitution never intended or envisioned as being allowed to encumber a sitting president.

Thats the issue.

Right now the issue of compliance uder the current laws is being seriously questioned. The current path leaves companies and presidents of the nation completely open to retroactive legal attack. It is interesting to note that Congress is not beholden to the same rules it has impossed upon the rest of us.

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Colin JM0397
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"When Clinton was investigated, he turned stuff over"

Funny, I seem to recall loads of files that just happened to be "discovered" in the White House basement shortly after the statute of limitations ran out.

IIRC, those were Hillary's Rose Law Firm records relating to the Whitewater stuff, among other things.

Face it folks, there’s a track record of people in high places thinking they are above the law. Party politics has nothing to do with it.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I konw it is fashionable to want to have an executive held to diminished capacities, but this law- and the series of laws attempting to regulate computer communication and archiving- is proving almost impossible for any private or public company or agency to comply with. Essentially almost any company that uses computers for communication right now is breaking at least some part of the laws that Congress enacted.
This is not due to technical limitations, I assure you. We're fully compliant; it's not a difficult solution from a technological standpoint, but rather from a societal standpoint.
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Redskullvw
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Tom

I'd surmise that whomever you represent by your "We're fully compliant" statement, you haven't had a physical disaster or a legal inquiry yet. Because that is when you find out just how screwed companies, public agencies, and even the military can be when it innocently runs afoul of the law. Even if they are using best practices and the most powerful archiving technologies availible.

http://www.fcw.com/article98230-04-13-07-Web&newsletter=yes

http://www.fcw.com/article98225-04-13-07-Web&newsletter=yes

as examples from just one trade paper on one day.

and further light on the original which started this whole mess

http://www.fcw.com/article98224-04-12-07-Web&newsletter=yes

It isn't without true concern that events like the head of the government's own industry panel for HIPA compliance told everyone to give up because the extention of the policy, as Congress is mandating, has now technically made it impossible for a Dr to ever release any information at all about a patient- or even share patient pathologies during an academic exercise or actual emergency. And that isn't even getting into Sarbox or any of the other regulations which are plauging technology usefulness.

Anyway hope your servers never go down, your mirrors stay intact, your terrabyte storage system stays cool, and your users never send anything out of compliance nor delete anything that contains any functional or actionable content. Otherwise you'll find out what the rest of he industry is in a virtual panic over.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

I'd surmise that whomever you represent by your "We're fully compliant" statement, you haven't had a physical disaster or a legal inquiry yet.

We've actually had one of each in the last year. And yes, we're fully compliant with all state and federal requirements.

It's not physically possible for our users to delete their mail from our archives (although they can of course delete it from their visible inbox). We have three levels of physical and five levels of virtual data redundancy, spread across two sites -- which is all we own, I'm afraid. A nuclear strike that took out Madison would still take us out, since we haven't yet found a sister school willing to partner with us for inter-state storage that meets our requirements. Our written policies and technological processes are fully compliant with the three privacy laws that apply to our situation, and our credit card applications meet our insurer's audited security and privacy requirements. All connected devices are controlled through user policy and require data encryption, depending on data access privileges, and local systems are prevented from storing files; everything's on the network or in BitLocker.

We're not even all that well-funded, as colleges go. And I KNOW I'm not the world's most competent network admin. What I'm saying is that once you recognize that your users are clueless, and take steps to make it technologically impossible for them to share data in certain ways, you've closed off all the vectors that you, as IT staff, can close.

If a doctor shares confidential info over the phone, or a financial aid rep talks to some parent and says something he shouldn't, that's a different story; there's still no good replacement for a) training and b) sensible law. But things like "Oh, we let Karl Rove delete this email" or "we let Karl Rove access Yahoo from our subnet" or "we let this executive load 2.4 million personnel records onto an unencrypted CD, which he left in his unlocked car" are things that can be foreseen and addressed proactively by even mediocre IT professionals.

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KnightEnder
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Red,

So should Nixon have gotten to delete all those tapes on which Kissinger was giving him "advice"?

KE

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Redskullvw
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TD

As I said you haven't been hit with a lawyer bomb yet. It is almost an impossibility for someone to be fully compliant and also know what all of his users are doing. If your school for example has a health center- I can almost 100% be sure you are inadvertently out of compliance. If you are 100% compliant the HIPPA control council needs to use your system as a means of example for the rest of the country and change its advisement to Congress that the law as written cannot be complied with. The time-bomb issue is storage. Even if it is cheap, reliable and energy efficient, the amount of data that even a single academic network produces in a day is staggering. At some point- and it will come rapidly- the active accounts and information of your network will become vastly outweighed by the archival nature of the network. And at some point, as the laws are written, your entire computer budget will be swallowed up by the power bill alone to keep twin sites operational, have the information readily available by electronic retrieval, and have physical backups printed and/or available by storage stable media.

In essence Tom, you are like most competent managers are -right now we are all holding a very bad set of laws at bay with the best that our technologies can provide- but short of some miraculous instance of all users becoming universally intelligent- or storage stable systems becoming so cheap that a penny a day is all it takes- the compliance issue with federal laws is the one thing that could realistically stop the webs development and usefulness.

KE

KE Nixon could have destroyed them. Legally he could have burned them all and there would have been nothing anyone could have done about it. However, Nixon was thankfully a moral- and contrary to what most people think, honest person.

He had the legal right to get rid of them. He knew that he didn't have a moral right or ethical right. Thats why Congress got them. The issue back then, as was revealed decades later was did the tape have the same archival worthiness as official paper documents, personal notes, and inadvertently written items. Nixon thought that they did. Kissenger thought that they didn't.

The revelation of the existence of the desk recorder almost assured that a president would be asked by congress to reveal what he said on them. The sad reality is that we will not ever again have a consistent, continual record of presidents conversing with their administration while deliberating policy. No president is stupid enough to allow such a system to ever again be put into place because ultimately the potential of it being used for blackmail against the executive is just too powerful.

And honestly KE had he not turned over any tapes at all- the world would have been a better place. But then neither Carter nor Reagan would have ever become President.

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RickyB
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In Nixon's day, the PRA didn't exist. Now it would have been 100% illegal for him to destroy the tapes.
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DaveS
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Red, you make some good points about Presidential privilege and his need for confidentiality, but I have a hard time fitting the President's apparent right to privacy in office with the public's Constitutional right to know what their servants are doing. Bush seems to be arguing for a kind of sovereignty, that our right depends on his leave to grant it.

If Nixon had destroyed the tapes, he might have bluffed his way out of the Watergate mess. On the other hand, I think it was more his narcissistic appeal to posterity that made him keep them than any moral imperative, and his mistaken sense of his own power that led to his resignation and disgrace. His henchmen Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Colson certainly had no particular scruples, believing that their highest priority was loyalty to him rather than to the nation.

We seem to be deep in an era of Executive Authority that trumps all other considerations and makes for an unequal and uneasy system of checks and balances. I grant that it is more efficient for Bush to act in an unfettered manner, which is why for example he asks for a "clean bill" of emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he has no right to expect it and the Congress has every right to deliberate over the matter and give him something else.

[ April 17, 2007, 08:49 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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Redskullvw
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Ricky

Yep you are correct.

TD

Two examples of how you may be inadvertantly breaking the law, even though you are following best practices for the industry.

I don't know for sure that your campus has a student clinic, but assuming that it does, lets examine a common activity that could expose you to a HIPPA violation in regards to data transmital and storage. Your campus health clinic probably serves some medicare/medicaid patients. The Joint Comission, the extra governmental agency that inspects hospitals and clinics to assure medicare/medicaid compliance, comes and inspects your campus clinic so that the clinic can maintain its ability to submit billing to the Federal government. Like all inspections, one of the things it inspects is how patient data is secured, stored and accessed. And like all such inspections, the JC no longer passes or fails an institution based on what the HIPPA law requires, but rather simply states whether or not the industry best practices are being followed. As you have pointed out, you are following best practices and standards. Te JC gives you a pass.

At this clinic there is a primary care LPN who conducts basic triage as is common in most academic clinics. She really cares bout her patients and maintains contact with them through your network. Amoung the activities she routinely commits is making herself availible by email and instant messenger to her patients. Patients email her about their personal medical needs or talk to her in real time on a messaging client. And while your network is Ipv6 level encryption as mandated by Federal law this year, the client computers that contact and exchange the medical information are often not even Ipv4. Meaning already, eventhough you are following best practices and allow for interoperative capability, you are responsible for an illegal communication every single time this nurse sends out or recieves an email to the non-standard client computers. Additionally she sends follow-up medical advice and treatment recomendations to her patients by email. And while you do archive her side of the conversation-you have no way of archiving the client side emails reliably whether they are push or pull systems. Meaning there is a high probability that the medical record will be incomplete. In fact, using email in and of itself over or across an open network is itself a violation of HIPPA laws. To make matters worse she also uses the instant messaging systems availible to communicate is real time, medical information. Since these programs treat information as ephemeral you are consistently loosing medical information that rightfully belongs in the HIPPA mandated record.

Now if she was simply using the telephone, as was far more common in the past, she would be in compliance. But like most medical institutions, email and IM communication between patient and healthcare worker has become the rule instead of the exception. But as the JC has pointed out, the very use of this tool almost virtually assures that HIPPA violations are occuring.

Now skip forward 20 years. You have retired. The nurse who used email and IM to communicate with her patients has gone on to be a full fledged General Practitioner and has been slammed with a malpractice suite. The lawyers seek to prove that she keeps inaccurate electronic records and demands your campus retrive all her medical correspondence. You provide the incomplete email conversations but although you somehow managed to keep most of her IM communications, you no longer have the client software that it was originally run on, nor do you have a 20 year old computer system availible which can run the software, nor do you have the ability to unlock the administrative encryption rights to the files because Windows Vista is nearly seven iterations out of current functions compared to the latest and greatest Windows Kitchen Sink OS currently on the market. Suddenly you find your campus clinic party to the malpractice lawsuit for being negligent with medical records and not adhering to all HIPPA laws.

Even though you followed best practices and standards, your clinic routinely broke HIPPA laws. And although the JC gave you a pass, the judicial system could throw criminal charges against you just as the lawyers involved in the malpractice suite are throwing civil charges of negligence against you.

The thing is that right now such cases are being fought out in the courts today. And often the charges have lead to substantial penalties. It is why even the JC, which is considered to be the final arbiter of legal compliance with federal laws, has ceased certifying computer based medical technologies associated with record storage security and retrieval. All they will offer is that a system is as good as technology allows without stating whether such a system is in fact legal.

Had a SarBox one too but the kid is using a stool as a seige engine and is attacking half full wine glasses on the kitchen counter.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Even if it is cheap, reliable and energy efficient, the amount of data that even a single academic network produces in a day is staggering.
We're not a research institution, thank God. [Smile]

quote:
And while your network is Ipv6 level encryption as mandated by Federal law this year, the client computers that contact and exchange the medical information are often not even Ipv4. Meaning already, eventhough you are following best practices and allow for interoperative capability, you are responsible for an illegal communication every single time this nurse sends out or recieves an email to the non-standard client computers. Additionally she sends follow-up medical advice and treatment recomendations to her patients by email. And while you do archive her side of the conversation-you have no way of archiving the client side emails reliably whether they are push or pull systems.
We permit instant messaging for staff only on our internal network, which uses Windows Communicator and is both encrypted and archived. All incoming emails of any kind are archived after passing through SMTP, and all medically-related outbound mail from her uses PGP. (We're actually trying to move to a webserver-based system for this sort of thing, especially since we're working to integrate all services with our portal, but -- as you'd expect -- there's been some client resistance.)

Both emails and IMs are logged to a secured SQL server that stores the information in plain text. It is inconceivable that, even ten years from now, we will be unable to query this server for this information.

And Sarbanes-Oxley doesn't apply, thankfully, since we're not a public company.

(Note: this is not to say that a user still couldn't circumvent our policy. But they'd almost have to be trying to do so, and we'd eventually notice -- at our annual audit, if not sooner -- that they were.)

[ April 17, 2007, 09:46 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Redskullvw
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TD

As I agreed with you that you are following the best practices-beyond what even most standard practices are right now. However, you missed the salient point in my scenario. Twenty years will have passed and you and those who are currently maintaining the network have gone on to greener pastures or retired. For your system to work in perpetuity, as the law now demands it do, you will have to deal with two issues. Firstly the very issue of technology change. Do you honestly think SQL will be the same twenty years from now? For that matter how will you deal with a replacement for SQL? Will you have available the people 15-20 years from now who will understand SQl as a current technology? The unintended consequence of compliance is that today's archives and databases must not substantially change in the future as to make them inaccessible. Will colleges still be turning out specialist for what would by then be archaic SQL?

Odds are you wont be able to. In reality you are using paper punch-card technology when compared with what has yet to be invented. The law however will require you to maintain such a system indefinitely. What are the odds that Intel and Microsoft will still be the de-facto technology providers in the future? To put it into proper perspective, if the current Federal laws had been enacted in the 1960's the issue of even getting new keypunch cards would be impractical, you'd be unable to get repair parts, and would by completely tied at a task of continually migrating archival content while legally being required to maintain original storage systems. It would be like having to maintain ENIAC today because its legally required.

But then thats what today's law will require, thanks to Congress's inept wisdom. Even tho
ugh you are doing your best-the legal compliance costs in the future will require people to maintain antiquated systems that by then will no longer have the benefit of available manpower, software operative reliability, and reliable electronic component replacement. The costs of not doing so however will be astronomically costly in terms of legal liability and enforcement penalties. This fact is moot right now only because the technology has not advanced very far from the state it was in when the laws were passed. But the exponential rate of development will eventually result in the scenarios I lay out.

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