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Wednesday, December 15, 2010 

Issa very concerned about (Obama) White House emails


Add it to the list of priorities for Darrell Issa when he takes over the Oversight gavel- transparency and technology. Between the upcoming potential FCC vote on net neutrality and the ongoing Wikileaks controversy, the role of technology will remain in the public eye for the forseeable future. Issa's focus on federal and presidential transparency though will follow a now-familiar patern of hypocrisy:
Issa promised to delve into issues surrounding the Presidential Records Act as well as the management and purchasing of information technology by the government as chairman.
But back when it was the Bush administration that lost millions of emails and couldn't comply with the basics of the Presidential Records Act, it was Darrell Issa who stepped up in the Oversight Committee to defend the White House's failure:
During a House Oversight Committee hearing last month on the preservation of White House records, an indignant Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a frequent critic of Chairman Henry Waxman's investigations, did his best to play down the extent of the Bush administration's now well-documented email archiving problems. Defending the White House's decision to switch from the Lotus Notes-based archiving system used by the Clinton administration, Issa compared the the software to "using wooden wagon wheels" and Sony Betamax tapes. To observers of the missing emails controversy, Issa's comments seemed little more than an attempt to deflect blame from the White House for replacing a working system for archiving presidential records with an ad hoc substitute.
What sorts of emails were missing? The ones from the start of the Iraq War for example. What did it take to turn Issa around on the issue? The inauguration of Barack Obama. It wasn't even a month before Issa was very concerned about preserving emails:
“The use of personal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail to conduct official business raises the prospect that presidential records will not be captured by the White House e-mail archiving system. Consequently Gmail users on the President’s staff run the risk of incorrectly classifying their e-mails as non-records under the [Presidential Records] Act.”
This didn't, of course, go completely unnoticed. Steve Benen had to get a new Irony-O-Meter after Issa's absurd hypocrisy:
The irony, of course, is that Issa couldn't care less about an actual scandal regarding White House emailing archiving. Bushies lost untold thousands of emails, with no archive or backups. Indeed, the former president's team deliberately created a "primitive" email system that created a high risk that data would be lost -- there was "no automatic system to ensure that e-mails were archived and preserved."
Perhaps most startling of all, the Bush Administration managed to dismantle, apparently on purpose, the Clinton Administration's email archive system -- which worked just fine -- without replacing it with anything at all.
When Henry Waxman raised concerns about all of this, Darrell Issa dismissed the questions as partisan sniping.
So as Issa lines up to harass the White House about detailed email accounting, let's remember that the only reason he cares is because the President isn't a Republican anymore. It would be embarrassing for most people, but Darrell Issa isn't most people.


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