Wednesday, July 6, 2016

That Time the George W. Bush White House Lost Over 5 Million Private Emails

In my last post, I argued that no one cares about IT security despite all the alarmism about Hillary's use of a private email server.

I've called Emailgate a phony issue. Now, you might argue that IT security is not a phony issue, it's a real issue.

It is. Just like Benghazi was a real issue too. It was a terrible tragedy. Anything that could have been done to figure out what happened and how to prevent the next one would have been appreciated.

But the Benghazi investigations by the GOP were never about that. They were about as Kevin McCarthy said, hurting Hillary Clinton politically, about bringing down her poll numbers. about making her 'untrustable.'

Similarly with Emailgate. IT security is a real issue. It's just that the Beltway and the GOP don't care about fixing the problem. They just want to focus on Hillary Clinton and figure out how to hurt her politically, just like with Benghazi.

Notice what happens if you try to point out that others have used private email servers as well. Right away you get cutoff: 'Yes, but the difference is, they aren't running for President.'

Exactly. Talking about Colin Powell's email system, the way he used AOL-evidently that was safer than the government email system of the time-has no political implications. So who cares? What matters is about playing politics, not fixing the underlying problem.

Similar with Condeeleza Rice or even that more recently. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter admitted to using private email for government business.

"The use of a personal email account by a second top national security official in the Obama administration is an embarrassment for the White House and could result in further attacks from Republicans about lax administration safeguards on sensitive government information."

See? Even there this was immediately put in a purely political lens: how the GOP can use it against  Obama.

Of course, this never got any legs. Why? Mostly because Obama is not running for anything again. The GOP ultimately chose to let the story go because admitting that Carter also used it, would relativize the issue.

It would admit that it's not about one single politician's alleged perfidy or 'penchant for secrecy' but a more systemic problem with IT security in most high ranking government offices.

SecStates have been using private mail servers for the last three administrations. How about we focus on updating outdated policies?

If your response is those other SecStates aren't running for anything, then you've admitted you don't care about the issue, just the politics of destroying Hillary Clinton-and as a happy byproduct, electing Trump.

How about updating outdated policies? How does that hurt Hillary Clinton politically?

Meanwhile the GOP conveniently forgets the time George W. Bush's WH 'lost' over 5 million private emails.

Back in 2007, the White House "lost" more than five million private emails. The story was barely covered

"Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost."

"The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee and were only supposed to be used for dealing with non-administration political campaign work to avoid violating ethics laws. Yet congressional investigators already had evidence private emails had been used for government business, including to discuss the firing of one of the U.S. attorneys. The RNC accounts were used by 22 White House staffers, including then-Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who reportedly used his RNC email for 95 percent of his communications."

"As the Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision- making and deliberations.” But suddenly millions of the private RNC emails had gone missing; emails that were seen as potentially crucial evidence by Congressional investigators."

"The White House email story broke on a Wednesday. Yet on that Sunday’s Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and Fox News Sunday, the topic of millions of missing White House emails did not come up. At all. (The story did get covered on ABC’s This Week.)"

"By comparison, not only did every network Sunday news show this week cover the story about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emails, but they were drowning in commentary. Between Meet the Press, Face The Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday, Clinton’s “email” or “emails” were referenced more than 100 times on the programs, according to Nexis transcripts. Talk about saturation coverage."

"Indeed, the commentary for the last week truly has been relentless, with the Beltway press barely pausing to catch its breath before unloading yet another round of “analysis,” most of which provides little insight but does allow journalists to vent about the Clintons."

"Still, the scandal machine churns on determined to the treat the story as a political blockbuster, even though early polling indicates the kerfuffle will not damage Clinton’s standing."

"Looking back, it’s curious how the D.C. scandal machine could barely get out of first gear when the Bush email story broke in 2007. I’m not suggesting the press ignored the Rove email debacle, because the story was clearly covered at the time. But triggering a firestorm (a guttural roar) that raged for days and consumed the Beltway chattering class the way the D.C. media has become obsessed with the Clinton email story? Absolutely not. Not even close."

I like the way Erich Boehlert puts it: A guttural roar.

The Rove email debacle was covered but it surely did not lead to a feeding frenzy.

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