The Los Angeles Times has a thorough article on the use of Republican National Committee based e-mail accounts ( with addresses of the form firstname.lastname@example.org) by White House officials. This was discovered when the DOJ carelessly included one such e-mail in its first 8-gate document dump. Another alternative address, Susan Ralston's at rnchc.com was clearly used to avoid federal record preservation and disclosure rules
One e-mail from an Abramoff associate said that White House personnel had warned "it is better to not put this stuff in writing in [the White House] … e-mail system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc."Abramoffika during passover eh ?
This story has been discussed in the blogosphere for weeks (just google gwb43.com). One bit in the LA Times story worried me
Some Republican activists say the e-mail request will not create great difficulty for the White House because nothing nefarious happened and because the RNC automatically purges some e-mails after 30 days.Now "automatically" and "some" don't go to well together do they ? I think it is possible that the RNC recently purged all e-mails older than 30 days old which were written by White House staff. The freequent (always anonymous ?) claims that the RNC regularly purges, along with the weasel word "some" leads me to suspect that they are constructing an excuse for the disappearance of the e-mails.
However, there are two other sides to the e-mailing -- the origin and the destination. The RNC loaned laptops and blackberries to the White House staff. These are not US property and so are certainly not EOP property. Can they be secured by house and senate committees ? It is true that people can delete e-mails from their computers (I lose them without even trying) but it is likely that politicos will have slipped up (as they did trying to delete Iran Contra e-mails with the del command). I, for one, can't even find, let along delete, outlook express mailboxes. How totally web based was gwb43.com ? Could people slip up and use outlook express as a front end ? How much is this computer I'm using keeping track of ?
The other end is the recipient. gwb43.com was discovered because of an e-mail received and handed over by DOJ. A subpoena of all government agencies for all e-mails sent by US employees via gwb43.com would be interesting. There is no possible claim of executive privilege given that no White House business can be conducted via gwb43.com.
I think it is important that Waxman acts quickly. I'm sure files are being deleted now.