Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by General Zod »

Ruh roh
WASHINGTON — Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush, according to two groups that are settling lawsuits they filed over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.

The two groups made the announcement as they settled lawsuits that they filed against the Executive Office of the President in 2007.

But the public might not see any of the e-mails for quite some time because they will now go through the National Archives normal process for releasing presidential and agency records.

The tally of missing e-mails and the settlement are the latest development in a controversy surrounding the failure by the Bush White House to install a properly working electronic record keeping system.

The two private organizations — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive — say there is not yet a final count on the extent of missing White House e-mail and there may never be a complete tally.

Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, said “many poor choices were made during the Bush administration and there was little concern about the availability of e-mail records despite the fact that they were contending with regular subpoenas for records and had a legal obligation to preserve their records.”

“We may never discover the full story of what happened here,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director. “It seems like they just didn't want the e-mails preserved.”

Sloan said the latest count of misplaced e-mails “gives us confirmation that the Bush administration lied when they said no e-mails were missing.”

The two groups say the 22 million White House e-mails were previously mislabeled and effectively lost.

The recovered e-mails — located over the past year by White House contractors — will now become part of the archived collection of papers at the National Archives and Records Administration.
It should be amusing to see the shitstorm that inevitably results from this. I mean aside from being caught in yet another blatant lie.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Tritio »

Damn, that is a lot of missing emails.

22,000,000 over 8 years = 2,750,000 per year = 7,534.2 emails per day

And that isn't the total number of emails sent per day, just the missing ones.

No proper record keeping? By the White House? Are you kidding me?
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Straha »

Remember, when the White House keeps records it invariably gets into trouble. Just look at the entire Watergate scandal.

That said it would not surprise me at all that this was merely negligence on the White House's behalf. The entire White House staff probably sends tens of thousands of e-mails every day and I very much doubt if anyone gives a shit about archiving most of the mid to lower level assistants' e-mails except the die-hard freedom of information groups.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Turin »

Straha wrote:That said it would not surprise me at all that this was merely negligence on the White House's behalf. The entire White House staff probably sends tens of thousands of e-mails every day and I very much doubt if anyone gives a shit about archiving most of the mid to lower level assistants' e-mails except the die-hard freedom of information groups.
Which is stupid even from the standpoint of an ordinary organization. You have a certain degree of legal obligation as merely an employer to archive emails from every peon in your organization to protect yourself from lawsuits (easy example: sexual harassment suits). Much less the Whitehouse.

Of course, if you know you're doing something wrong, you're more inclined to conveniently lose such things.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Out of all of those, there are probably only a small percentage that are important. I wonder if they have a list of who they belong to yet ? This could be very "interesting" if they are any of the key people.

It's kind of like saving a soiled dress, just in case,...eh ! :wink:
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by CmdrWilkens »

Straha wrote:Remember, when the White House keeps records it invariably gets into trouble. Just look at the entire Watergate scandal.

That said it would not surprise me at all that this was merely negligence on the White House's behalf. The entire White House staff probably sends tens of thousands of e-mails every day and I very much doubt if anyone gives a shit about archiving most of the mid to lower level assistants' e-mails except the die-hard freedom of information groups.
Any major corporation using e-mail as a regular means of correspondence is legally required to promulgate a proper record keeping requirement simply because the e-mails replace other records which have retention requirements. That the White house would "misplace" this large of a batch of data is indicative of either negligent file management (its simplicity itself to institute system wide policies with auto-archive settings and daily/weekly drive backups) or intentional decisions to hide data. The former is only slightly more likely than the later given the history of the EoP during Bush's tenure.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Yona wrote:Out of all of those, there are probably only a small percentage that are important. I wonder if they have a list of who they belong to yet ? This could be very "interesting" if they are any of the key people.
Given the way emails work in even a small corporation I wouldn't be surprised if most of it was inane chatter. It'll take time to sift out anything useful.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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General Zod wrote:
Yona wrote:Out of all of those, there are probably only a small percentage that are important. I wonder if they have a list of who they belong to yet ? This could be very "interesting" if they are any of the key people.
Given the way emails work in even a small corporation I wouldn't be surprised if most of it was inane chatter. It'll take time to sift out anything useful.
Possibly, but I just read that these may be part of what is included. hmmmmmmmm Wouldn't that be a read !

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23367672/

Also, this just surfaced.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/0 ... g-e-mails/

NOT releasing them would be the greatest mistake in my opinion. But they don't listen to me. :wink:
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by The Yosemite Bear »

quite possibly a bunch said: Yeah looking for WMDs but found a nude sunbather in Isreal, sending photos
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Well now this is not actualy uncommon you see all IT polcies usualy are har to enforce on the peons and the bosses who ofen wnat to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tommarow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officals] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who ask me about things every basic compueter user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% usless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actualy uncommon you see all IT polcies usualy are har to enforce on the peons and the bosses who ofen wnat to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tommarow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officals] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who ask me about things every basic compueter user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% usless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
Could you translate that into readable English, please? As in, use paragraphs and FFS use a spellchecker. The Firefox browser has a built in one, so you don't have an excuse.

As far as corporate IT policies are concerned, it is the responsibility of the IT department to automate the enforcement so that it happens, you know, automatically. It's not to be left up to the individual users. They are not asked anything about it.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actualy uncommon you see all IT polcies usualy are har to enforce on the peons and the bosses who ofen wnat to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tommarow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officals] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who ask me about things every basic compueter user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% usless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
It shouldn't matter if the peons back up their own email archives. Even in a company as small as the one I work for, all of our email is stored on a corporate server. So records of every conversation should be saved regardless of whether or not an employee is backing up their own files. For an institution as big as the White House to not have such an archive, or to make it so that end users can access the records is complete and total incompetence at the very least. If you want to be generous.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Yona »

General Zod wrote:
Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actualy uncommon you see all IT polcies usualy are har to enforce on the peons and the bosses who ofen wnat to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tommarow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officals] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who ask me about things every basic compueter user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% usless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
It shouldn't matter if the peons back up their own email archives. Even in a company as small as the one I work for, all of our email is stored on a corporate server. So records of every conversation should be saved regardless of whether or not an employee is backing up their own files. For an institution as big as the White House to not have such an archive, or to make it so that end users can access the records is complete and total incompetence at the very least. If you want to be generous.
Perhaps not total incompetence. :wink:

They did disappear when they needed to. Having worked on and actually set up Network protection schemes involving data and email, it tells me that they were "lost" on the direction of someone in charge.

I say tell it like it is. A deliberate attempt to hinder any and all investigations on accountability.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Darth Wong »

It's amazing how often Republicans rely on claims of incompetence and selective amnesia to cover their tracks, and how often their sympathizers expect us to fall for it. These people were consciously, deliberately obstructionist and anyone with half a brain can see that. This is like the Arthur Andersen document shredding scandal where they shredded millions of Enron-related documents, and continued shredding even after being ordered to cease and desist by the DOJ. They claimed an innocent "oops" too.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Big Phil »

Turin wrote:
Straha wrote:That said it would not surprise me at all that this was merely negligence on the White House's behalf. The entire White House staff probably sends tens of thousands of e-mails every day and I very much doubt if anyone gives a shit about archiving most of the mid to lower level assistants' e-mails except the die-hard freedom of information groups.
Which is stupid even from the standpoint of an ordinary organization. You have a certain degree of legal obligation as merely an employer to archive emails from every peon in your organization to protect yourself from lawsuits (easy example: sexual harassment suits). Much less the Whitehouse.

Of course, if you know you're doing something wrong, you're more inclined to conveniently lose such things.
A couple of corrections - there isn't a legal obligation to archive emails (at least not in the United States), although for a variety of reasons it's a good idea. It's roughly the equivalent of keeping of copy of every single notepad, photocopy, or memo that ever went out - businesses aren't legally required to keep them, and doing so is probably worthless, but it might save your ass in a jam.

What's most important for businesses, actually, is having a formalized policy. It doesn't matter if the policy is "save everything" or "autodelete after 90 days," as long as there is a policy; why is this, you may ask? Lawyers.

For example, if an employee is fired for being a whistleblower and sues, the lawyer is going to ask for copies of all emails, memos, etc., related to the employee or the case. If company policy is to delete/shred/throw away everything more than 90 days old (leave aside the stupidity of such a policy for the moment), the lawyer is up shit creek and usually doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, assuming the company adhered to the policy. On the other hand, if there is no such policy, but magically every email, memo, or fax related to the employee disappears, then the company is likely to get into a shitstorm of trouble.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Liberty »

I hate to ruin your fun, but please remember that email hasn't been around for all that long yet. Granted companies, etc, used email in the 1990s, but it was still relatively new when Bush came into office. This is something historians call the "digital dark age" - no joke. When new digital technology became available, people didn't know how to properly save or care for it, so a lot of important information was lost. This is something historians have to deal with now. Of course, by the early 2000s the government - which isn't exactly a company run out of someone's garage - should have figured this out and corrected it. And yes, it is convenient that emails disappeared. I'm just saying that though it's incompetent and probably shady, it's not really that unimaginable. I mean, I'm still trying to figure out how to save all the digital data I want saved, and it's almost 2010!

For more info on the digital dark age: http://www.rense.com/general38/escap.htm
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Well now this is not actually uncommon you see all IT polices usually are hard to enforce on the peons and the bosses who often want to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tomorrow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officials] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who asks me about things every basic computer user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% useless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.

There is the corrected post.

In response to servers your assuming you’d have one assigned for this remember an e-mail server still won’t save you from bandwidth issues if you are indeed sending tens of thousands of e-mails per day as the discussion has indicated. E-mails are not always text only and they may have had attached documents or images now I am going to assume the White house may not have a super network but it also isn’t pure shit so considering this as a base line a few hundred employees all firing off e-mails into one point on a network will eventually push it to be slow some could have been dropped and found on machines later far as cover ups I am sure plenty got removed on purpose it wouldn’t amaze me to hear of this.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

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Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actually uncommon you see all IT polices usually are hard to enforce on the peons and the bosses who often want to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tomorrow.
:wtf: Ok, I have no clue about the WH's IT infrastructure at the time in question, but this is my take on the mail handling:

'Backing up your mail personally' is only neccessary, when you pull your emails from a remote mailbox to your computer and delete it from there using POP3(or elated protocol. This is the SOP when your official mailbox(es) rests at some 3rd party(or parties) like your ISP or a mail provider but you collect your mail at your PC

An organization* is better off to store all it's mailboxes on a centralized mail server and let users access it over the net with either an IMAP enabled mail client or the server's own protocol client like Outlook for Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes' client. In this case the backing up of emails is the responsibility of the staff operating the server.

Communication suites for large organizations have been available long before Bush the 2nd came into office (some compliant with a tons of government and industy standards), along with practices about running them, backing up and restoring their data. Unless of course the design, deployment and operation contract of the IT infrastructure has been awarded to Cheney's retarded nephew's company, who was the family's computer whizkid (read: could install windows 98 without calling tech support).
Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officials] I doubt most know how to back up their files.
Poor state of network could be simply slow network connection to the servers or overloaded servers.
I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who asks me about things every basic computer user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% useless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
Agreed.
There is the corrected post.

In response to servers your assuming you’d have one assigned for this remember an e-mail server still won’t save you from bandwidth issues if you are indeed sending tens of thousands of e-mails per day as the discussion has indicated. E-mails are not always text only and they may have had attached documents or images now I am going to assume the White house may not have a super network but it also isn’t pure shit so considering this as a base line a few hundred employees all firing off e-mails into one point on a network will eventually push it to be slow some could have been dropped and found on machines later far as cover ups I am sure plenty got removed on purpose it wouldn’t amaze me to hear of this.
Do you have any idea how the email servers and sending email works? :banghead:
There is always one server who takes your outgoing mail regardless whether it takes it through SMTP(standard email) or through it's proprietary protocol(MAPI for Outlook/Exchange). It the recipient is in a domain(string after the @) it's responsible for, it delivers to a local mailbox. It it isn't it can do a following according to it's configuration:
* dumb forwarder: forwards mail to another server it's configured to.
* smarthost: tries to find the SMTP server responsible for the recipient's domain and tries to connect to it pass the mail to it.

If a mail's transfer blocked after an initial server took it from you, it's the server's responsible to try to deliver it, failing to do that, send you some response message (usually an email from the dreaded MAILER-DAEMON). In case of temporary errors, it has to re-try delivery for a specified time(number of re-tries and time between them originally added up to 7 days, but it's configurable).

"Misplacing" to servers only possible if a server takes emails all emails directed to it's domain and drops nonexistent recipients' mail to a special mailbox. AFAIK Lotus Notes 5.5 had this feature for example. Other could be if someone shut down a relaying server without emptying it's queue of mails but if it has 22million mail, then it's a rather colossal fuckup.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Edi »

Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actually uncommon you see all IT polices usually are hard to enforce on the peons and the bosses who often want to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tomorrow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officials] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who asks me about things every basic computer user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% useless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.

There is the corrected post.

In response to servers your assuming you’d have one assigned for this remember an e-mail server still won’t save you from bandwidth issues if you are indeed sending tens of thousands of e-mails per day as the discussion has indicated. E-mails are not always text only and they may have had attached documents or images now I am going to assume the White house may not have a super network but it also isn’t pure shit so considering this as a base line a few hundred employees all firing off e-mails into one point on a network will eventually push it to be slow some could have been dropped and found on machines later far as cover ups I am sure plenty got removed on purpose it wouldn’t amaze me to hear of this.
Here's a protip: Don't try to feed me this bullshit about network capacity problems and other similar crap related to email. I'm a professional computer technician and I'm perfectly capable of designing a network where this issue wrt email would never manifest, so this does not stand up as even a flimsy excuse for an excuse. A lot of people here are computer professionals, many of them more competent than I am and many of them have more actual experience with networks than I do and they will tell you the same thing.

You don't even need any commercial software to do such an implementation for fuck's sake.

So, in summary, fuck off and come back when you know what you're talking about.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Darth Wong »

There is absolutely no way that any intelligent network admin would want to decentralize file storage and record keeping by farming it out to peons. Centralized storage has been the preference since the fucking 1970s; it is hardly a new idea that the Bush Administration wouldn't have been quick enough to adopt.

If you're in an environment where E-mails can be considered evidence (and the Hatch Act means that in the US government, they are), then you should be keeping centralized backups, and any competent server admin would have known that, even back in 2000. As I said, this is no different than Arthur Andersen shredding thousands of documents and innocently saying "Oops, we didn't think they were important!" To say it strains credibility is a huge understatement.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Edi wrote:
Tellos wrote:Well now this is not actualy uncommon you see all IT polcies usualy are har to enforce on the peons and the bosses who ofen wnat to be the exception to the rule. Far as back ups most people can be told to do it but often won't or will forget or say they can do it tommarow. Also given the poor state of the network I heard the average white house office worker is [not counting top officals] I doubt most know how to back up their files. I know for many here that may not be an issue but I find it every day who ask me about things every basic compueter user out to know. Far as what we'll see I also agree it'll likely be 99% usless chatter and 1% interesting or shocking.
Could you translate that into readable English, please? As in, use paragraphs and FFS use a spellchecker. The Firefox browser has a built in one, so you don't have an excuse.

As far as corporate IT policies are concerned, it is the responsibility of the IT department to automate the enforcement so that it happens, you know, automatically. It's not to be left up to the individual users. They are not asked anything about it.

This posted is retracted, as I should have read the rest of the thread before talking about the Lynnwooder.
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Darth Wong »

Even if the White House intranet dates back to the 1990s, so what? It's not as if network admins had no concept of centralized backup in the 1990s. I was a network admin in the 1990s.
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Turin
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Turin »

SancheztheWhaler wrote:
Turin wrote:Which is stupid even from the standpoint of an ordinary organization. You have a certain degree of legal obligation as merely an employer to archive emails from every peon in your organization to protect yourself from lawsuits (easy example: sexual harassment suits). Much less the Whitehouse.

Of course, if you know you're doing something wrong, you're more inclined to conveniently lose such things.
A couple of corrections - there isn't a legal obligation to archive emails (at least not in the United States), although for a variety of reasons it's a good idea. It's roughly the equivalent of keeping of copy of every single notepad, photocopy, or memo that ever went out - businesses aren't legally required to keep them, and doing so is probably worthless, but it might save your ass in a jam.
Which is, for most intents and purposes, the same thing. There are industries where there is a legal requirement to keep documents -- the engineering firm I work for is required by the various states in which we work to keep their records of design for n number of years. So if more and more of your project-related correspondence is through email, you may very well have a legal requirement to keep all your emails. It's inconceivable that anyone in the Whitehouse could this wouldn't apply in this case as well.
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CmdrWilkens
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by CmdrWilkens »

Turin wrote:
SancheztheWhaler wrote:
Turin wrote:Which is stupid even from the standpoint of an ordinary organization. You have a certain degree of legal obligation as merely an employer to archive emails from every peon in your organization to protect yourself from lawsuits (easy example: sexual harassment suits). Much less the Whitehouse.

Of course, if you know you're doing something wrong, you're more inclined to conveniently lose such things.
A couple of corrections - there isn't a legal obligation to archive emails (at least not in the United States), although for a variety of reasons it's a good idea. It's roughly the equivalent of keeping of copy of every single notepad, photocopy, or memo that ever went out - businesses aren't legally required to keep them, and doing so is probably worthless, but it might save your ass in a jam.
Which is, for most intents and purposes, the same thing. There are industries where there is a legal requirement to keep documents -- the engineering firm I work for is required by the various states in which we work to keep their records of design for n number of years. So if more and more of your project-related correspondence is through email, you may very well have a legal requirement to keep all your emails. It's inconceivable that anyone in the Whitehouse could this wouldn't apply in this case as well.
Following up on this, the reason I mentioned it as a legal requirement is because of this. Because in my former position amongst other things contract negotiation was often part of the communication engaged in via e-mail, well this forms part of the record of the contract and thus needs to be retained concurrent with the same. Likewise certain other records particularly sales information at publicly traded companies must be retained under SEC guidelines. There isn't a catch-all for document retention but several categories of e-mails duplicate or have replaced older forms of paper documentation which is required by law to be retained. In those cases the e-mails have to be retained according to the same standard as the records they replaced (or else duplicated to paper and filed accordingly).
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Terralthra
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Re: Millions of "missing" Bush emails recovered

Post by Terralthra »

Lest we get too far from legal requirements here, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 is incredibly clear. Refer to US Code, Section 2202:
The United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of Presidential records; and such records shall be administered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
E-mail was used extensively in the White House at least as far back as the Iran-Contra affair, as North and Poindexter attempted to erase the evidence in that case, and back-up tapes of the e-mail were used by the FBI to reconstruct it. Several cases followed, the most noteworthy (for our purposes) being Armstrong v. Bush, 1 F.3d 1274, 1283 n.7 (D.C. Cir. 1993)., in which Judge Richey found that e-mail does fall under the PRA. Various appeals and decisions can be found at Findlaw etc., if you want to do further research.

Executive summary: E-mail at the White House has been formalized with a strict backup regime since the early 80s, at least. Erasure of White House e-mails constitutes a federal crime, and has been confirmed by every court short of the SCOTUS, in the early 90s. Any claims that the deletion of millions of White House e-mails, with no back-up, was in any way not criminal is simply wrong.
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