Saturday, April 14, 2007

Did the Delete Button Really Get Rid of the E-Mails?

The search for e-mails related to the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys gets more intriguing by the day with the latest revelation that messages were deleted from the Republican National Committee e-mail accounts of senior White House aides that may have permanently removed them from the server, making them unrecoverable.  Among those who appear to have missing e-mails is Karl Rove, for whom there are no e-mails before 2005 available.  In describing the reason for the separate accounts, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino explained that they were to avoid the restrictions of the Hatch Act on federal employees engaging in partisan political activities (transcript here).  She said that any lost materials were not the result of an intentional violation of the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all official communications be preserved.  She said:

Q So working to comply with Hatch Act, it's possible that someone unwittingly violated the Presidential Records Act.

MS. PERINO: I think what I would say to you is that we've seen no basis to conclude that anyone intentionally or improperly used the RNC email system.

Speaking of e-mails, the Department of Justice engaged in its latest document dump on the House Judiciary Committee, this time sending over 3,000 pages of internal communications and documents.  As is its usual method, the documents were delivered on a Friday, perhaps to minimize the coverage of the contents.  One interesting chart (available here) lists all the U.S. Attorneys during the Bush Administration and their background information, such as prior prosecutorial and political experience.  The last column is whether they are a member of the Federalist Society, an item that doesn't appear to be directly relevant to the qualifications to be a U.S. Attorney.  Eight are listed in that column as "Yes" to membership, so that does not appear to be a significant criterion for appointment, but it is interesting that it even appears in the chart.  The complete set of the latest documents is available on the House Judiciary Committee website (here).

The consideration of political experience and ties is nothing new because these positions are political appointments, and prosecutorial experience is not the sole criteria.  The real issue is what the person does after the appointment to ensure that justice is administered fairly, not so much how they got the job (assuming it was not obtained by improper means).  Politics is a part of the process at the front end, but should not be once the job is started.  A Washington Post story (here) discusses the latest twists to the e-mail search.  (ph)

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