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April 13, 2007

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This post leads me to ask a question. Wouldn't a megalomaniac like Rove want to keep a secret record of all his machinations so that some future historian could actually experience his brilliance? All the emails sent to and from Rove may lie cached in some hidden location, perhaps because the Minister of Propaganda is loath to destroy them forever.

Outstanding post, Marcy. In the comments for Glenn Greenwald's recent post about "missing" White House documents, I suggested this one. Of course, you were already on top of it.

RE: Rove keeping his e-mails so that future generations will worship his genius. Well, gee, seems that was the same thing (hubris?) that sank the S.S. RM Nixon. He was so determined to document his presidency for posterity that he had the White House taping system installed -- and we all know how that turned out. Wouldn't it just be delicious if Rove had (in saving all his e-mails) similarly screwed himself?

if Fitz had a forensic image made of Rove's computer it is under lock and key.
Fitz would have examined a duplicate for evidence in the Plame case.
If Congress initiates a judicial action re missing emails, could Walton release the forensic evidence and get another duplicate of Rove's computer for the purpose of searching for missing emails? or can the evidence gathered re Plame be used only re Plame?

I can understand deleting the mail from the servers (hold tight). A place like the WH probably does a ton of emailing every single day. You can't store all of that on the servers forever...but...

If the emails are removed from the servers (and a lot of IT types would archive a megasystem like the WH monthly if not weekly), wouldn't the PRA law sorta say that they had to have all that stuff on a backup somewhere? Is it possible the retrieved email came from a backup, and the WH dragged its feet getting to it until they could get their stories straight/spin in place? Or that backups weren't well organized, same result?

With this outfit, sometimes Occam's razor indicates that incompetence is the most likely explanation for anything.

Of course, this is operating under the presumption of innocent mistakes (no megalithic organization is without them), but these people are anything but innocent.

I'm trying to be fair here, although I'm inclined to believe the mail was wiped for a reason. I'm wondering if they thought they could get by with saying the dog ate the backup, then discovered they couldn't.

Now if they aren't archiving everything properly (likely)... Something is definitely wrong.

ew,

This indicates to me that Rove kept his email in a local file. For Outlook/Exchange users, that means a local pst file. This would mean that his computers could have copies of emails that are no longer on the server.

It would help to know which email account he used.

WO

Even with the info from the update from mainsailset? That is, there is one server we don't know about, Rove's private server.

Nice posts (and still catching up on all posts from earlier this week).

Have Rove's computers been seized?
Did Rove have to hand over his computer to stave off an indictment from Fitzgerald way back when?

WRT Rove's Hadley email, a long time ago, EW wondered aloud whether the Hadley email was faked to cover Rove's tracks. If this line of thinking has not been ruled out, I wonder whether privately owned servers could have helped to fake time stamps: Connect laptop directly to the server (is this possible?), send the email to server, erase the email from server. Keep on the personal laptop. Message never travels through an internet node. No other copies exist.

An interesting question would be, "Mr Rove, just how many accounts do you have access to and use?"

As I learned in college in my first rental house, if there is one mouse, there are 2 and if there are 2, chances are pretty fair you have a family.

My gut feeling is that the RNC accounts (operated out of TN) use the most rudimentary tech for email: SMTP servers to receive mail and POP servers to send them.

Here's why: gwb43.com and georgewbush.com use mailscan[1|2].smarttechcorp.net to receive mail. There's a SMTP server running on port 25 of these hosts. There is no IP attached to gwb43.com. So to receive mail, you're going to be using another address. One potential (obvious) address is mail.smartechcorp.net, and that's running a POP3 server on port 110. There's no sign of an IMAP server on port 143, or any other appropriate port for that server.

I'm with William here: Rove's sent mail was stored on his own machine in a local PST file.

If he were using webmail, it wouldn't have turned up in that way. The docdumps also make it look like the kr@georgewbush.com address is the only address he uses on a regular basis, and thus Occam's razor applies. He's been sucking down his email from a box on the Tennessee POP3 server, with Outlook set to store sent mail locally, delete fetched mail automatically from the server, and with the ability to delete both from his local machine at will.

(mail.smartechcorp.net does have a webmail interface, which does suggests a potential webmail outlet for other GOPeratives using backchannel email. But in this case, I don't think it applies, because the Rove-Hadley email wouldn't have showed up in a local search. Unless I'm missing something.)

The basic tech infrastructure of the White House comes across as staggeringly slapdash, even if the WH non-archiving turns out to be cock-up rather than conspiracy. Outbound mail going to insecure, unaudited SMTP servers? You can't do that in a bloody Starbucks.

On preview, pdaly: interesting thought. Cross-checking server logs and email headers would make it harder to do, though.

ew,

Yes. The explanation is a bit complicated. I'll start with what we (think) we know. First, Rove as a govt. issue computer that uses Microsoft Outlook connected to Microsoft Exchange server. I'm going to assume that he doesn't use that machine for any of his other email accounts. Second, Rove has a RNC issued laptop that connects to a hosted Microsoft Exchange Server. Third, Rove has an RNC issued Blackberry that connects (probably via a RIM Blackberry Enterprise Server but it could be via SMTP/POP3) to the same Exchange Server as the laptop.

It's quite likely the govt issue computer only delivers mail to the mailbox on the server (and not a pst file). If I was setting things up for the WH, that's how I would do it. However, if Rove really uses his private domain account from the RNC laptop, he has to be using SMTP/POP3 to access and he has to have a local pst file. That's the only way Outlook works. Can somebody ask Matt Cooper what email address he uses to communicate with Rove (I'm betting on kr@georgewbush.com).

truely amazing posts. I am going to reread again, it is too much to take in at once. thanks for all your work.

Cooper wasn't communicating to Rove, Hadley was. AFAIK, Cooper never talked to ROve via email. Cathie Martin, yes. But not Rove.

Lets' also not forget that Comey's tasking to Fitzgerald (the 2-6-04 letter) specifically authorized him to investigate "destruction of evidence."

I've been waiting a long time for that shoe to drop. I'm still waiting on the "intimidation of witnesses" tasking.

There are many, many interal ("whitehouse.gov") email servers at EOP, and thousands of email accounts. The PRA doesn't require that email be kept permanently on those servers. The design of the ARMS system was to collect each email, as soon as it was sent from whitehouse.gov, or received to whitehouse.gov, and to create a permanent central archive, in compliance with PRA. This is a totally different issue from whether the email is on a client PC, or on a server. Clients and servers were designed to be able to get purged. That's irrelevant. The ARMS system would preserve everything, from all the many "whitehouse.gov" servers. The ARMS system was outside of the email clients and servers.

Now lets make this really, really simple: They switched the ARMS system off. They disabled it. No more archiving. This is a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which doesn't apply only to corporations, but also to any federally mandated record-keeping.

And Sarb-Ox violations are much easier to prove than is obstruction of justice. Sarb-Ox prosecutions don't require criminal intent, and don't require the existence of an active or pending "official proceeding".

Harriet Miers, very very probably, and Alberto Gonzales, quite likely, were informed that the PRA and the Sarbanes-Oxley laws were being violated, and they failed to take action.

The penalty is up to 20 years.

Eh, anonymous, they've already said they "didn't know" what the laws were regarding document retention. No doubt they'll plead the same ignorance about Sarbanes-Oxley.

The Bush Admin finds new ways to amaze everyone. First, they have the devil's own time hanging onto documents and files, always losing them - and, oddly enough, losing them just when those documents and files are being requested by an investigation. Now they seem to have an equally difficult time knowing routine business requirements - and again, their lacunae of knowledge coincides with subjects under investigation.

Looks like "ignorance of the law is no excuse" isn't true anymore. At least, not for the highest offices in the land.

Thank you Marcy for yet again making the complicated understandable.

thank you, ew, for laying out your thoughts on the possibilities. as i read this post i felt like i was back in grade school with my favorite kind of maddening problem in front of me.

remember these? 6 people are playing poker. one is wearing a red hat. the man eating an egg salad sandwich is sitting next to the person holding a pair of twos. the man in the green vest has a sister who lives in seattle. the one who has a straight flush is sitting opposite the man in the orange shirt. from that you have to figure out who's sitting next to whom, everyone's gender, what color they're wearing, what they're eating, what cards they're holding, and in which cities their siblings live. :-)

ew, something tells me you were really, really good at those kinds of problems.

Who is our Alexander Butterfield going to be? The msm meme - that there is no crime to justify what is being portrayed as a partisan witchhunt - must be destroy such that none can deny the facts. A patriot inside the administration must come forward. The more desperate the Bushies become, the more dangerous they are.

Was it Mark Twain that said...I support my country all the time, ... and the goverment when it deserves it?

Thanks to all at FDL and commenters for providing a path for the truth to reach all of us.

Looking at this from a layman' s pov, and maybe just repeating the obvious or something said before, I can't help get the feeling that something really stupid will unravel all. I'm thinking along the lines of an unrelated throw away email in the account of someone corresponding with those involved in the USA scandal . Maybe an email with an ambiguous header, causing 'a conspirator' to delete thinking you can never be too cautious, and another 'innocent person' keeping it because it had a link to that youtube video where the dog steals a Ferarri and outruns the cops.

The snowball effect and other emails, from unacknowledged addresses start to turn up, and pretty soon that web gets tangled. I suppose that is the way this, and the earlier Plame investigation made headway, so it's probably nothing new, just a gut feeling. My bet in the pool, at 1000 to 1 odds, has the unacknowledged Rove email address that ultimately unravels it being the one he used to communicate, through intermediaries, with Jeff Gannon. This prediction is based on nothing more than the thought of hours of entertainment provided by such a turn of events.

EW,

I am pursuing the "little people" logic. (Not any actual info.)

But check my guesswork for me.

1. RNC. Little people are safe. Purges done in regular order. Direction from executives; little people following orders.

2. WH. Little people have a tale to tell. Too big for an amateur to get in and monkey around. Orders must have come from on high, at particular dates. But I am very murky as to what happened when. Little people could tell us.

3. Personal computers. Rove and other individuals act directly; no little people.

Egads. So we've got destroyed e-mails, but somehow Rove managed to print out a copy of a key e-mail AFTER it was destroyed? Looks bad. Looks like Rove didn't erase his e-mails when everyone else did, and then he went back and printed out the ones on his computer that made him look innocent, just in case, and then he deleted those. Then he turns over a key e-mail just in time to save himself from a perjury indictment. Except that neither he nor Hadley had turned over the e-mail previously, so that makes both of them look bad, and now Fitz goes back to look at the e-mails. And there are BIG gaps. I'll bet it looked awful then, but Fitz couldn't nail anyone for it. It's going to look even worse when Congress gets it all out in the open. You know, if I were Hadley, I'd be REALLY pissed at Rove. And I'll bet a lot of other people were, too. And now I'm REALLY curious about who took away Rove's delete priviledges. And whether or not they told him about it.

"Thank you Marcy for yet again making the complicated understandable."

Seconded.

OT, I cannot put a high enough value on these emails. IMHO, they offer the best chance (short of tapes) for the American people to see the Bush WH, talking to itself, without the talking points varnish supplied by professionals like McMuffin and Snowblower.

Dammitall, of all times to be on vacation and chugging along on dial-up only sporadically...

There are two things that I think need to be examined more closely:
-- there was a mention of a migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook somewhere in the several hundred pages I just read in the last 2 hours, cannot recall where. Did this actually happen? This would make a serious difference.
-- not entirely familiar with Blackberry server operation, but it could be possible to see traffic that has been sent/received by a Blackberry device on a Blackberry server/network traffic log; a log would confirm for investigators whether Rove was less than forthcoming about any particular email even if the log didn't actually provide the email itself. Did the Blackberry server(s) get audited for traffic to/from WH or RNC?

Keep up the great work, EW.

Any bets on how long it'll take the WaPo to write an editorial entitled "A Good Deletion"?

Excellent job of walking through the logic here, EW. I think your assumptions still stand up pretty well, even with mainsailset's point, and your post and the comments (here and at FDL) have definitely helped to narrow the possibilities as regards targeted Congressional information requests to the White House, National Archives, Office of Administration, etc. about the various electronic records, and how and why the built-in PRAct-compliant electronic archiving system somehow "failed" to work, but only intermittently.

The assumption to-date seems to have been that in the daily course of his work, Rove had two computers on his desk: one government-issue, one RNC-issue. He had a government ("whitehouse.gov") email address he used via the official computer [which Rove should have been using for his government-related work including his WH political-office duties on behalf of the President, all emails of which would have been automatically archived periodically if the PRAct had been complied with], as well as both an RNC email address (or several) and his private consulting business email address used via the RNC-computer. In addition, Rove presumably had an RNC-issued Blackberry which utilized the same server set-up as his RNC-computer.

If we can credit it, however, Attorney Luskin's latest tale via the AP, which EW linked to in her FDL post, seems to describe the set-up somewhat differently, although Luskin is primarily addressing the RNC-email account(s) [asserting that Rove assumed that the (presumably non-government-business) RNC political emails were being archived "in accordance with the law" (What law? Did Rove think the RNC was subject to the Presidential Records Act??)]. Luskin seems to indicate that Rove may have used a home computer for his private consulting business (at a minimum) email, and had both RNC-issued and White House-issued Blackberry devices, but apparently only one computer (a laptop) on his desk at the White House. In addition to an RNC-email address (or many), the Bush "re-election campaign" seems to have had a separate email-address assigned to Rove separately from the RNC. Luskin speaks of cleaning up by deletion an "in-box," but of course in Rove's case, the "out-box" or Rove-authored and sent emails would be of as at least as much interest here (and almost everybody automatically keeps a copy of emails they send if of any import at all, don't they?). Sent emails are usually filed away in a pretty inobtrusive fashion, and there is really no incentive to delete them, barring increasingly-rare disc-space limitations, but for track-covering motives [in other words, it takes more effort and bother to delete the out-box, or portions of it, than it does to ignore it, I'm assuming, unless the delete setting is automatic in the software].

Finally, apropos this topic, I'm starting to think that Monica Goodling has been set up as a prime piece of bait for Congress, by the White House. Her lawyers, seemingly in pursuit of a firewall defense for higher-ups, have presented her in such a way that she appears to be either a gold-mine of insider information should she be given immunity by Congress, or otherwise a brick wall heading straight to court as a test case for new and novel Executive Privilege claims. The White House presumably figures they can't lose, whichever path Congress chooses with her, because in fact she is not nearly such a gold mine of insider information as is being hinted at, and on the other hand, a court case might just give them new breathing room beyond the inherent delay it would bring if Congress over-focuses on Ms. Goodling. My hunch is that Congress should ignore Ms. Goodling for the time being, and pursue all these avenues being opened up on the e-mail front instead, to see if they can't find the same information that an immunized Goodling would have given them (and then some), without the need for any assistance from her.

P.S. I think we still need a tech-expert to do an 'english translation' of how email "servers" work in local networks and on the internet, including what the various protocols (SMTP, POP3, IMAP) mean in that regard. Congressional staff experts will understand most of the variables presumably, but some expert tech blogger needs to have pity on the Members of Congress themselves, and try to explain which servers actually store emailed data on their hard drives for long periods of time and how and why, and which servers simply act as "exchangers" of data between the sending and receiving hard drives of those doing the emailing, and so on and so forth. It's very difficult to get a handle on the possibilities without knowledge of the tech jargon and standard software at issue. [I may be suggesting a basically impossible task, because of the complicated and unknown variables involved -- if so, nevermind...!]

The former Archivist of the US, John W. Carlin, was asked to leave by Alberto in a 12/5/03 phone call, no reason given and of course you know it, the law was ignored. (Apparently the decision to remove him came on or about 9/23/03 when his replacement, Allen Weinstein, was given a call inquiring if he had an interest in the job).

The weeks before 12/5/03 must have been an interesting time for a do-the-job-right, Clinton appointee. His removal and the later announcement of his replacement caused a big stink at the time. From another Washington Post story about Weinstein - 'Historian Ralph E. Luker, whose work appears in the Cliopatria blog on the History News Network site, writes this about Weinstein: "There lurks the deep suspicion that the Bush administration was rushing to replace Carlin with a more malleable Archivist."'

Weinstein , (A Registered Democrat who served on Ronald Reagan's transition team in the 1980s, had an interesting history during the Iran-Contra years, first wife was Dan Quayle's attorney, and was no favorite of the archivist community because of past violations of archival ethical guidelines) seems like a guy who might be less likely (than Carlin) to challenge the Decider President's attempts to dispose of "Presidential records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value" (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22 Section 2203 subsection c).

Perhaps Carlin was unaware of plotting and/or planning at the White House. Perhaps Carlin has light to shed upon the goings on at the time leading up to his call from Alberto... perhaps next week Alberto can tell us why Carlin was let go.

I haven't read such good detective work since I read Sherlock Holmes as an adolescent! Marcy's posts here plus over at FDL today-- including her extended conversation with Mary4 and Looseheadprop-- have been wonderful. --Not to mention other commenters who have been analyzing the evidence!

Thanks!!!

Bob in HI

That's a pretty interesting article, Isbister: perhaps Carlin's call for a Congressionally-funded electronic document retention system set off all sorts of alarm bells within a White House that was already aware at the end of 2003 that its system was like a Swiss cheese?

That we haven't heard a peep from the current Archivist is itself troubling.

I think we still need a tech-expert to do an 'english translation' of how email "servers" work in local networks and on the internet, including what the various protocols (SMTP, POP3, IMAP) mean in that regard."

These comments are excellent explanations of likely software components and configurations;
pseudonymous in nc | April 13, 2007 at 19:46
William Ockham | April 13, 2007 at 19:58

Anybody who has litigated a case involving electronic records including email, financial systems and large corporate networks will be familiar with the issues the Judiciary Committee is facing... Although, I was suprised to hear Sen. Leahy assert that email are never lost because they pass through so many servers from sender to receiver. That issue aside, I cannot imagine they wouldn't retain forensic IT folks to timeline this, advise on subpoena language and handle electronic materials processing.

So many great comments. pow wow's and p i n's I found especially helpful.

Neil don't be surprised to hear Sen Leahy say anything. He is a camera posturing fool.

This is an interesting study of people trying to come up to speed on the various mixture of technologies we use to communicate with each other these days. I mentioned earlier the old deskside/top fax using a dial phone that is impervious to most of these catch the digital file systems we have heard about.

Now I can't be certain that the WH systems would allow this, but if a Rove has his own domain, he could easily with any kind of connection to it from any device WH computer, Laptop Blackberry, etc. send and receive mail from it. This mail would not be archived unless a copy was sent to the archive system. That is how I do my personal mail, on my own domain. I also store stuff there and on gmail as well as Mozy for security and convenience.

If I really want to keep something close, I use a tiny USB2 Flash Drive. Take it with me where I go. Some of these go on Keychains, into Pens, and elsewhere.

But finally, I wish to again to assert that all this discussion is about some magical Rove eating fish that popular hope and belief have speculated live in a lake that only needs be explored properly to make the great catch.

No fish has been found in any net, or on any hook. No picture (that is clear) has been seen. Some have perhaps dreamed of hearing splashes, or seeing disturbances in the water. Some are into their cups a bit early, I think.

Perhaps it is just another Loch Ness Monster sought by incurable Bloggers (I mean incurable Romantics.)

He is a camera posturing fool.

Bitter much?

OT, sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a day that the NSA or the current reincarnation of the Total Information Awareness Network may ever provide data relevant to all this. I realize that once the search algorithms have run, there is no need to save the data, but I've also heard that they haven't always been dumping the data afterwards. Of course, the precedent wouldn't be worth it, but I suppose I'm also cynical enough to assume that once the tool is out there it will only be a matter of time until it is used for domestic criminal/political cases.

Way to go Tokyo Jodi! What outfit is your family with in Iraq?
Is it the 101st Airborne? Check out this link:
http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/dpc_hearing.html
"WASHINGTON, April 7 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) held a hearing today on allegations that Halliburton and its KBR subsidiary have knowingly exposed thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to hazardous levels of unhealthy water from the Euphrates River, including human fecal matter. The allegations, made by current and former Halliburton employees involved in water quality maintenance, were first disclosed by HalliburtonWatch last September. Visit this link to read the HalliburtonWatch report.

"Everyone knows that drinking, or washing with poop is bad for you," Jeffrey K. Griffiths, MD, Professor of Public Health and Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, told the committee. "The reasons are so obvious we consider them common sense," he said.

But "common sense" is not always a virtue at Halliburton, if whistleblowers and military personnel in Iraq are to be believed.

Capt. Michelle Callahan, MD, a U.S. army surgeon in Iraq with the 101st Sustainment Brigade, told the committee in an email that water containing human fecal matter and other human waste was being re-circulated by Halliburton back into the non-potable water supply used by the troops for showering, brushing teeth, shaving, washing clothes, and preparing food and coffee. According to Callahan, "concentrate reject was being used to fill the water tanks."

After finding coliform bacteria and e-coli in the the water, Callahan said a Halliburton official informed employees that, "there's not a problem with it."

Callahan also stated that, after discovering KBR was filling the water with waste water concentrate, the same official informed employees that, "This was the way KBR always treated the water."

"I had a sudden increase in soldiers with bacterial infections presenting to me for treatment," Callahan told the committee in her email. "All of these soldiers live in the same living area (PAD 103) and use the same water to shower. I had 4 cases of skin abcesses, 1 case of cellulitis, and one case of bacterial conjunctivitis," she said.

An internal Halliburton report leaked to the committee and authored by the company's Iraq water quality manager admitted that, "No disinfection to non-potable water was occurring [at Camp Ar Ramadi] for water designated for showering purposes. This caused an unknown population to be exposed to potentially harmful water for an undetermined amount of time."

"This event should be considered a 'NEAR MISS,'" the Halliburton report warned, "as the consequences of these actions could have been VERY SEVERE resulting in mass sickness or death" (emphasis in the original). The report added, "The deficiencies of the camp where the event occurred is (sic) not exclusive to that camp; meaning that country-wide, all camps suffer to some extent from all or some of the deficiencies noted."

The report laments that, "The likelihood of a similar event is considered high if no actions to correct widespread program deficiencies are taken."

So far, Halliburton management has denied a problem even exists and declined to appear at today's congressional hearing.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-SD), the committee's chairman, said, "This report, made by an employee of the Halliburton Corporation to the Halliburton Corporation, and previously not made available [to the public], establishes there was indeed serious contamination of the non-potable water provided to our troops, not only at camp Ar Ramadi, but throughout the U.S. military camps in Iraq."

After reviewing Halliburton's internal water report, Dr. Griffiths told the committee that the source water used at Ar Ramadi was "highly polluted" and "highly likely to make [the troops] sick." He said the troops "would have been better off with water [taken] directly out of the Euphrates River," which the doctor described as an "open sewer." That's because Halliburton's non-potable water was not chlorinated or filtered to remove parasites, amoebas and viruses that cause various illnesses including dysentery, an inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract that causes fever, severe diarrhea, vomiting and often "pooping of blood." Dr. Griffiths pointed out that "in many if not most wars, dysentery has killed more soldiers than has combat."

KBR instructs the troops not to drink the non-potable water, but claims it is safe for showering. But Dr. Griffiths said showering with KBR's untreated water is still dangerous because ingestion of diseases can occur through the mouth and skin.

Anticipating that Dorgan's criticism could create a public relations problem, Halliburton attempted to deter the senator by sending a second internal report to his office the night before the hearing, which contradicted the first internal on-site report and purportedly "exonerates" (as Dorgan put it) the company. But this second report admits that, "KBR (Halliburton) lacked an organizational structure to ensure that water was being treated in accordance with Army standards in its contractual requirements."

This admission that Halliburton failed to ensure that its work met contract specifications is just the latest in a long list of violations that members of Congress say should lead to the company's suspension and debarment.

Nevertheless, both Halliburton and the Pentagon have denied that a serious problem exists.

"This is really pretty unbelievable to me," Dorgan said in response to denials by Halliburton and the Pentagon. "I understand no one wants to take responsibility. No one ever wants to be accountable for anything," he said. "We now know that those denials were wrong and Halliburton and the Pentagon would have known them to be wrong."

Thanks to Dorgan's efforts, after initially resisting calls for an investigation into the matter, the Pentagon in March announced that it will conduct a formal inquiry. But, like most of the federal investigations into Halliburton's alleged wrongdoing, the Pentagon's inquiry will likely be stalled or swept under the rug.

Download the audio of today's hearing by clicking this link.

Check back to HalliburtonWatch in the future for further updates on this issue."

Ran across this today:

chicagotribune.com >> Nation/World

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Published April 14, 2007

Boy, it sure would be easier to defend this White House's innocence if they would quit acting so guilty. I completely understand the origin of the system of [Republican National Committee] e-mail accounts for selected White House staffers. President Bush entered office wanting to avoid the ethical lapses that had clouded the Clinton years. In particular, his White House was organized to ensure the strict separation of governing and electioneering expenses. I wrote a number of fundraising speeches in 2001-2002, and for those I had a separate printer (ink and paper paid for by the Republican National Committee, not the taxpayer).

The Democratic theory that these RNC e-mail accounts constitute a sinister scheme to escape public oversight does not bear much scrutiny. Congress can subpoena private e-mails, too, after all. And "losing" e-mails only invites suspicions of the worst. On the other hand, it is true that a certain personality type sooner or later shows up in every administration: the clever-clever-stupid political manipulator so infatuated with his or her own petty schemes that they never stop to consider the full and deep meaning of the ancient rule "Honesty is the best policy."

David Frum, National Review Online


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Ok--I have a really oddball question: What about the NSA's datamining? Wouldn't Rove's blackberry missives be a big target of opportunity?

Could the information be retrieved from NSA??

Talk about poetic if possible...

"This is a violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which doesn't apply only to corporations, but also to any federally mandated record-keeping."

Thanks, Anonymous.

EW;

Why is NO ONE, pursuing the SOX angle on this? It is frustrating
that NO ONE WILL DISCUSS this issue.

semanticleo,

I'm not a SOX expert, but I'm pretty sure the law only applies to public corporations. I know that the OMB has advised federal agencies to comply with a parallel set of rules, but that doesn't set up a legal obligation to for the EOP (and with this crew even that would probably be ignored).

On the other hand, it is certainly instructive to look at what SOX requires of public corporations and compare that to what the WH is offering up these days. That is to say, I don't think SOX offers us much in the way of legal recourse (but I'd love to wrong), but it would be a great addition to the battle of ideas. For example, go read this article:

http://www.s-ox.com/feature/article.cfm?articleID=2148

Now, compare that to the practices of the WH and the RNC.

pow wow

I would love if you'd write a note to that effect and make sure it gets to some folks in Conyers' office. I, like you, think Goodling is one giant piece of bait. While the Time article implying she was going to get immunity is premarture (it says they're thinking about it, not that it's a done deal), I think it'd be way premature to give her immunity. Furthermore, with Kyle Sampson inching closer and closer to a perjury charge, I'd rather offer him a plea bargain before we give the Goodling away.

Frank

Yes, that's pretty much where I was headed with this, you've stated it better than I.

Rayne

The Lotus/Outlook migration was an excuse offered up by Dana Peroxide, based on her talking outtaherarse. But she said it was done on a rolling basis sometime in the first term.

semanticleo

I'm keeping SOX in the back of my mind, but it's not there yet for me. One question I have though is that a lot of what we're talking about were changes. However, they're changes that precede SOX. So some of the impact of SOX regarding changes in reporting may be less relevant.

Wow.

But the report seems to outline how the deletions took place: someone deleted entire days for entire departments. Something like:

Command: Delete ALL OPA July 6 to July 14, inclusive
Command: Delete ALL OVP July 6 to July 14, inclusive

That is, the CREW sources seem to suggest that if something is missing, then an entire day of emails would be missing. (Which is why it might have been important that Adam Levine's email, about with Zeidenberg interviewed him in October 2005, was sent on the same day as the Rove-Hadley email.)

If I'm right (though I'd caution that the OA report language is ambiguous), it means someone went in and deleted--at a minimum--all of Rove's emails from July 11, 2003, the day he leaked to Cooper and--potentially--a number of other people.

"Command-delete"?

Let me just float a different balloon, and I am not even a techie but I know this notion is less of a fantasy.

Suppose the WH server system has some daily capacity, say 100 units, and it is backed up to archive daily. Daily storage averages 70 units and rarely exceeds 100.

Suppose that usage surges for some reason (people start attaching video files, the WH issues blackberries, who knows?)

Now daily usage averages 85 and on 25% of the days it exceeds 100, but no bright light actually identifies and solves this.

Then on the roughly thousand days from Mar 2003 to Oct 2005, there will be "hundreds" (250, in this example) with missing emails.

But there will be emails for every day, and no one willfully deleted anything - what was deleted was a matter of how the daily server prioritized dumps to free up space. Or maybe once it was full, that was it for the day, so the lost emails were always late in the day.

Would the system I described be screwed up? Yes? So impossibly screwed up that the alternative, where folks can go down and willfully drop entire days or weeks, is more plausible? Make the call.

You know. Like maybe on September 30, during the 11 hour gap?

Call a special counsel! Oh, wait - this has been hashed and re-hashed - destroying evidence is a crime even if the notice has not been delivered. Don't you think Fitzgerald is aware of that and looked at it? Or in his two years of probing WH conspiracies did it never dawn on him that he might want to ask a few questions about Rove's missing emails?

Just how inept do you think Fitzgerald was?

"I am not even a techie but I know this notion is less of a fantasy."

Here were go again, slogging through the peat bog of conservative hopefulness. Evidence that the human mind exists primarily to
make excuses for behavior.

OK, OT I know, but the blogos are inter-related so I'll ask here. Is Firedoglake down? My browser can't find it. I need me some Christy in the am.

EW - & all you other smarties out there:

Thank you for making all of this somewhat more understandable for this sleepyhead.

Why is Luskin known as 'gold bars'?

Anybody know why FDL is unreachable this morning? Are they under DOS attack?

Good Morning Ms. Wheeler

good morning to straggling Firedogs - server problems at FDL - don't know how long it's been down - rarely lasts more than hour

Luskin is known as Gold Bars b/c he excepted gold bars as payment from a client accused of drug smuggling

Semantico:

No SOX issue here for White House or RNC, as SOX applies only to public companies and auditors.

Tom

There were some indications in May 2006 that Fitz was working on the Obstruction story--at about the time he had Karl's hard drive and was working on the deleted emails.

The problem is, to charge Obstruction of justice, you need to charge someone. I guarantee you, Karl ROve did not do the deleting of days and days of emails. And if he can't tell you who did, then you've not got a case, yet.

As to the 250, keep in mind--that's stuff directly responsive to Fitz' subpoenas, and just from OVP. So we're talking a lot more than just 250 pages of emails.

As to FDL

I haven't been over there (or tried) yet. But it was crashing yesterday on the backend, so I suspect it's having a bad day and a half.

Tom--

As someone who has run a large e-mail server for over a decade, I can speak with some authority.

1. Since daily backup and disaster recovery procedures are a must for any e-mail server, it is implausible that there are no backups for the e-mails in question. Unless they were deliberately destroyed. If the WH and/or RNC are claiming that these backups never existed (tapes, usually, but could be hard drive archives), then they are (in IT terms) beyond incompetent.

2. There is no "daily limit" to e-mail accounts. E-mail capacity is potentially limited by the size of the server database (in older versions of MS Exchange, 16GB) or the size of the local mail datafile (in older versions of MS Outlook, it would have been around 1.8GB).

3. Back in the day (five years ago?), it would not have been uncommon for the local file to reach that 1.8GB limit and then be archived to the local hard drive to free up more space. Those archived files could be lost when the local machine (the individual's computer) died or was disposed of. But the server backup tapes should still exist, somewhere...

4. ...Unless--all copies of the e-mails were deleted immediately after they were sent and there was no auto-archiver in place. Today, every organization of any size has an auto-archiver, but five years ago, that might not have been true for the two-bit incompetents who run our country.

5. All-in-all, this is just one more piece of evidence that, since 2001, we have been ruled by the biggest bunch of fuck-ups this country has ever known. From Katrina, to Iraq, to No-Child-Left-Behind, to Afghanistan, to the simple management of e-mail, they can't do ANYTHING right. There's no defending them anymore, Tom...unless you think you're a fuck-up, too.

Re; Plame and Rove emails.

A question that I have not got sorted out is how, if Rove emails had been subpoenaed, and the Cooper was not immediately produced, why was that not obstruction?

The later "My lawyer talked with Viveca Novak and I just remembered the email I didn't turn over and I want to change my testimony before I get indicted" thing bothers me because the original failure to produce the email should have been its own act of obstruction.

What am I missing?

speaking of "biggest bunch of fuck ups", I just now saw Lee Iaccoca's comments - ye gawd ! can you say plain spoken ?

yeah I know he's a corporate beast, but an influential corporate beast.

and is the Chimp still in Crawford ?(about an hour away from here) there are 4 F-18's making passes directly above

what landreau said.

I'll add a couple of things. An organization that claims that their "document retention policy" deletes emails older than 30 days is making a tacit admission of bad, if not illegal, behavior. I would say that about anybody (left, right, don't care). Does anybody really think that the folks who ran the 2004 Republican campaign let their email disappear after 30 days? Think about what that means. Somebody went to the trouble of setting up a process that ran every day and deleted the email older than 30 days. For all sorts of technical and practical reasons, that's absurd.

Why are the keepers of the email automatically incompetent if they weren't backing up what was clearly a shadow communications network? If I'm Rove, I'm making damn sure that the email infrastructure that I do not want to be used against me as evidence down the road is purposely not backing up certain files/directories/mail files. All of the enterprise backup software (and I've used Veritas Netbackup and Legato extensively for over 10 years) have the option of creating "exclude lists". Typically you'd use the exclude list to leave out things that you don't deem critical (/cdrom or /tmp in the UNIX world for example). I'd love to know what software the RNC uses to backup their servers, assuming that they own and support their own servers as opposed to some manages services outfit providing these services for them.

Albert Fall

If you look through the OVP document declarations, you see that the most likely people to have incriminating emails annotated their declarations, "I understand you, David Addington, are doing a search on teh central servers." Which would give them an excuse (implausible, but legally protective to a degree) to explain why they hadn't searched their own hard drive. That is, they basically said, "I'm not searching, because I assume you've gotten it taken care of."

I suspect somethign similar happened with Rove.

All of which is totally suspicious, of course. But which probably means Fitz KNOWS Rove obstructed (knowing full well the conditions of hte servers), yet doesn't have the case to charge him with it.

As I said to Tom--there is excellent reason to believe that Fitz was working hard on the obstruction case in May 2006, working precisely on the email question. But I can only assume he couldn't make a strong enough case to indict on it, yet.

And one other thing. I noticed that the report from CREW mentioned that there was a plan developed to recover the 5 million missing emails. That suggests to me that the emails aren't really gone, just not archived properly. It lends a lot of credence to Sen. Leahy's assertion that the White House just doesn't want to turn over the emails. I think what happened is pretty clear. The switch from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook broke the archiving that was in place from the Clinton Administration. The loyal Bushies decided to leave the broken system in place because it worked to their advantage. I agree with Tom on one point. Nobody ever explicitly deleted emails from certain days. They didn't have to. They just used the opportunity to hide their nefarious activities. The bad news for the White House is that, now that they face effective oversight, recovering those emails is going to be much more disruptive to their day-to-day activities.


As far as supporting email servers and their backups, I can recall any number of times when someone wanted to recover missing mail and the problem was that the email client (Outlook, Eudora, Netscape, etc) was configured NOT to leave mail on the server. Check your Outlook settings (Properties/Advanced/at the bottom) to see whether or not you're "leaving a copy of mail on server"...if you are, it's getting backed up, many times over. If you're not, and the mail was popped to your local host during business hours, you're mail probably never got a backup.

EW

Thanks for helping on the original Rove email issue.

Frustrating thing about legal cases--and about the Rove/RNC et al behavior--is that if you don't have documentary evidence, but you know what happened (Rove saying to someone "make sure these emails don't get delivered to the prosecutor"), you still need to assemble the testimony to show the chain of events creating the obstruction.

OT -- just another FDL junkie looking to hang on a Saturday morning. Some pretty smart folks over here too. Think I'll have to add this to my lurkin' list. EW rocks too.

Good morning!!

I've been thinking that the Ralph Reed/Norquist/Rove communications should be looked into by subpoena, because, repeatedly, in the Abramoff emails on Waxman's site; Reed is the go-between Abramoff and Rove. In other words, the other end of a bunch of stuff could possibly be uncovered there. It would require a subpoena, but I think at this point it is reasonable to assume they were all up to a bunch of no good. Just my 2 cents.

fdl is back up.

just a wild-ass theory but....

regarding the 250 additional "recovered" emails from EOP/OVP.

could they have been from non .gov accounts to .gov accounts.... and only emails from .gov accounts were part of the initial searches under the pretext that this was an investigation into official conduct of government employees?

As I said to Tom--there is excellent reason to believe that Fitz was working hard on the obstruction case in May 2006, working precisely on the email question. But I can only assume he couldn't make a strong enough case to indict on it, yet.

Another theory -- Fitzgerald saw Cheney/Libby as the architects of the leak conspiracy, with Rove just an (unwitting?) participant. He cut a deal with Rove late in the game for Rove's full co-operation -- but Rove remains under threat of indictment (or is the subject of a sealed indictment) for obstruction should it turn out that Rove was not totally forthcoming. In other words, its not that he doesn't have a case, its that he cut a deal with Rove -- and didn't have sufficient evidence tying Libby directly to the destruction of records to include in the obstruction indictment.

It should also be noted that I could find no mention of penalties associated with violations of the Presidential Records Act -- thus an employee who participated in/facilitated the destruction of records could not be held criminally liable for doing so unless he knew that the records were relevant to an investigation. Even once he discovered that there was wholesale violations of the Record Act, Fitzgerald couldn't do much more with the information than make it clear that a violation of the law was occurring, and should be stopped.

**********

and forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but a highly compliant archivist would be a HUGE advantage for the White House given that the Presidential Records Act

Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.

http://www.archives.gov/presidential-libraries/laws/1978-act.html

Posted by: William Ockham | April 14, 2007 at 10:54
"I think what happened is pretty clear. The switch from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange and Outlook broke the archiving that was in place from the Clinton Administration.
This is a great theory. Is the timeline correct? IF ARMS was coded to pull all White House inbound, outbound and interoffice mail from from Lotus Notes Mail, and a conversion to Microsoft Exchange was undertaken, it is likely ARMS would need to be fixed to work with the new interface. There ought to be notes in the specification, project plan, on the punch list.

Posted by: Jay | April 14, 2007 at 11:01
That's my experience too. The outlook client on a laptop or pc is configured to leave or delete the email on the server when the laptop or pc is connected to exchange.

It's also my experience that backing up a exchnage message store is an all or nothing proposition. I would be suprised to learn someone developed a backup product that would allow a selective backup of mailboxes in an exchange message store.

Here's an interesting article (too long to post so heres the link)about forensic email retrieval.
Retrieval tips offered for lost White House e-mails


“Neil don't be surprised to hear Sen Leahy say anything. He is a camera posturing fool.”
Posted by: Jodi | April 14, 2007 at 04:42

Don’t act like we agree Jodi. It is a fallacy. My issue with Leahy was regarding ONE reason he thought the emails existed – that they travel through many servers between sending server and destination. There are many reasons to believe the White House and DOJ and RNC are obstructing both the House and Senate’s oversight into the purge of US Attorneys and other Bush DOJ policies that have compromised the independence of the judiciary.

Disreputable elements of the Bush administration are claiming they cannot produce evidence requested by power of subpoena. I didn’t find their shifting explanations about the US Attorney purge consistent or convincing, and I do not find their explanations about why they cannot produce the subpoenaed evidence credible either. Pinch your nose and tell us you don’t smell anything toady Jodi.

Okay, maybe this is stupid but why are we accepting the Hadley e mail as a bonafide original e mail sent by Rove? Isn't it easier to create a fake e mail out of whole cloth? The Hadley e mail is oddly worded, self serving and I believe created after the fact.

Neil-- Veritas Backup, since version 9 at least, allows the selective backup of individual mailboxes, and even folders within mailboxes. And it works, too.

Make the call.

"Always look on the bright side of Bush, de-doo, de-doo-de-doo-de-doo..."

Although, I was suprised to hear Sen. Leahy assert that email are never lost because they pass through so many servers from sender to receiver.

I interpret that in a few ways. At very least, SMTP and POP servers are going to have logs, and purging logs in their entirety is bad practice. Which means you may not have instant access to the emails themselves, but you should have a record of emails sent to and from those accounts.

Also, email proliferates. It just does. We've seen from the doc-dump that the DOJ flunkies are very good at forwarding emails around en masse or including 14 previous emails beneath their replies. Bad netiquette, but good for retrieval purposes. We've yet to see anything originating from Scott Jennings' gwb43.com account, but we know it exists from replies and forwards.

An organization that claims that their "document retention policy" deletes emails older than 30 days is making a tacit admission of bad, if not illegal, behavior.

I think it's possible to rationalise having a 30-day window on POP boxes in an environment where the accepted practice is to download mail locally and delete it from the server. (Akin to GMail's rotating 30-day spam deletion.) But to not have incremental snapshots backed up to tape on the daily/weekly/monthly cronjob, before that rotating purge, is astonishingly shoddy practice. Tape is cheap.

Regarding Leahy's remark about e-mail never going away:

It's my understanding (quite possibly incorrect) that the intermediate servers that e-mail travels through only archive the headers, which are the important part for routing or backtracking the stuff. Even so, this would be useful for finding out who e-mailed whom, from which account, and when.

"this five million figure - is that 1% of White House emails, 5%, 25%, 50%, or what? If they know, they ought to tell us; if they don't know, they ought to find out."

Maguire is linking to this post, EW.


The bottom line? Who knows? But I thought this was telling;

"this five million figure - is that 1% of White House emails, 5%, 25%, 50%, or what? If they know, they ought to tell us; if they don't know, they ought to find out."

I especially love 'they ought to find out'.

landreau | April 14, 2007 at 14:23
Thanks Re: Veritas v9

All those emails erased completely by those incompetent Republican fools.

Wait, they shouldn't have been able to pull that off!

You can't have it both ways. They commit perfect crimes, but they are perfect fools and incompetent to boot.

I must not understand. Maybe there aren't any emails. Or none that show what the Democrats want to see. And so they will never stop, never stop, never stop...

Tokyo Jodi, Rove was a genius when it came to manipulating public opinion. Scooter's trial pretty much ended his ability to do that. You trust these guys to provide national security when they can't even archive emails? LMAO.

Tokyo Jodi, when criminals, take Nixon for one common example, are forced to choose between criminality and stupidity, they invariably choose stupid. Nixon was a smart guy. He reached out to China and that scared the bejesus out of the Soviet Union. When a "second-rate" burglary blew up, it led to him blaming eighteen minutes of erased tapes on Rosemary Woods.

Tokyo Jodi, given the uber-loyalty you display here for the Bush Administration, I think there are all kinds of terrific career opportunities available for you at relatively high levels in the WH.

"Or none that show what the Democrats want to see."

Jodi, all the current US Attorneys and all those who were fired are conservative Republicans. I know it's tough, when conservative Republicans join Democrats against the Bush WH, but that's what is happening. You're back to blogging in bad faith again. It's an insult to emptywheel and so many other fine commenters here who put America ahead of partisan politics. Do you think the Bush Administration made Pat Fitzgerald a USA, because he is a liberal? There's an awful lot of praise in these threads for men like James Comey who are not Democrats. Your empty rhetoric only reinforces the negative opinion everyone already has of the GOP.

My 2 cents worth---we already know that huge re-routers were installed long ago, according to a Mr. Klein, and that these violators of the 4th amendment intercepted virtually every email that went over the net and stored it to be searched for terrorist activities later, so then, why doesn't somebody go get the secreted copies from the FBI, or whoever is operating that interception/archiving project?

They are alleged to have copies of ALL emails, and that would include SMTP/POP accounts.

sixpack,

you speak of an area which I have some knowledge.

True these devices were made and did work, but the FBI had no idea of the magnitude of the effects of their methods.

The ISPs have other methods for use when the FBI has reasons to look at someone, and indeed very effective methods, and they perturbe the system much, much less. They have held up in court.

The point I am making is that the targets are much smaller and no one just collects everything on the WWW.

I keep hearing that the special prosecutor Fitzgerald knew this and knew that but did not act because of this or that. If you use a little bit of time and think for just a moment, it might occur to you that here we have a Republican appointed attorney investigating a Republican administration that as you might recall was possibly on the removal list (per Sampson) that because of the need to find a culprit, chose the least needed (or perhaps the lessor of the evil?) and charged him. I would not be able to say with total conviction that Fitzgerald was party to the problem, but neither can I say he was not! Why did he not follow thru with some of the possible charges against Rove? Just a little food for thought for those of you who have a larger brain capacity than I do.


I dunno, blacksheep. I'd have thought that if Fitz had done a deal with the WH to keep his job, Libby would have walked. Or am I missing something?

Good question blacksheep, and it's been raised here in the past and in emptywheel's book: ANATOMY OF DECEIT, (which you can buy if you want). I would simply offer from memory that Fitz's mandate was extremely narrow, just the Plame leak. In the opinions of many here, that it is why he did not follow through on some things, but not others.

Tokyo John Casper,

nothing wrong was done except that as usual higher ups decide to cover their personnel actions with a poor performance rating. I don't like that particularly because it is a two edged sword that can be used either way. But there is nothing to legally prosecute there.

As to the USAs party affiliation, they were political appointees. What do you expect.

You can also say they were political firees. Their time was up. Out with the old and in with the new.

blackberry downout due to rove controversy

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