Monday, June 18, 2007

Criminal Violation

Violation of the Presidential Records Act is a criminal offense. And evidence is beginning to pile up that the officials within the administration have done just that.

The act states that the President is required to “take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented … and maintained as Presidential records.” Not doing so, would be criminal. Did Alberto Gonzalez, the White House Counsel, know that violations were occurring and do nothing to prevent it.

Rep. Henry Waxman and the Congressional Oversight Committee he chairs seem to think so. They just released an interim report on the investigation that says the following:
  1. The White House lied when saying that only a "handful" of officials were using non-official email accounts.
  2. White House officials were using unofficial RNC email accounts for official business.
  3. RNC extensively destroyed emails it had under its possessions.
  4. There is evidence that the AG Alberto Gonzalez "may have known" that this was going on and took no action. This is back when he was the white house attorney.
In order to recover the emails destroyed by the RNC, the Committee has written to 25 federal agencies requesting that they search their records for communication from or to Government officials from nonofficial email accounts. Some agencies have reported that they do have records of communications sent by officials from non-government email accounts.

The committee certainly wasn't surprised. "The Committee asked the RNC to provide data on how many e-mails each White House official sent to or received from official “.gov” e-mail accounts. According to the information from the RNC, virtually all of the 37 White House officials used their RNC accounts to communicate with government officials with official “.gov” e-mail accounts. Of the 674,367 e-mails preserved by the RNC, 240,922 e-mails (36%) were sent to or received from government e-mail accounts."

Now, it's bad enough that they were conducting official business (it's official if it goes to a .gov address), but what do you think the content of those messages was, pray do tell. Imagine the content that arrogance matched with a false sense of impunity will generate.

An example of this arrogance is what started this whole investigation in the first place. The committee learned of this this type of behavior while investigating government corruption by Jack Abramoff. It was during that investigation that the committee learned that Susan Ralston, Special Assistant to the President and a deputy to Karl Rove
sent a note to an Abramoff associate saying “I now have an RNC blackberry which you can use to e-mail me at any time. No security issues like my WH e-mail.”

But, one example. Waxman has over 240,000 more to go.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

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