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Hard Drives To Hell

Hard drives? Emails? We don’t need no stinkin hard drives and email"! And that is pretty much what the Bush Administration has told Judge John Facciola and the DC District Court, not to mention you, me and the rest of the citizens the government is supposed to work for. As you will recall, CREW and the National Security Archive (NSA) have been fighting Bushco for some time now over the missing emails. Yesterday I received the following in an email from the lead attorney on the matter for the NSA, Meredith Fuchs:

Since you have been following the White House e-mail story, I thought you would be interested in the latest government filing. Striking that they failed to respond to the court’s specific questions. Even though they are engaged in a major project trying to find hundreds of days worth of e-mail, they still don’t scknowledge that they have a problem.

Moreover, there are some things that simply are not credible in Ms. Payton’s declaration. For instance, she claims that EOP replaces 1/3 of their computers each year and so there are not likely to be any around from 2003-2005. Yet, she also says EOP has no record of which computers were replaced and when. How do they know they are not replacing the same 1/3 each year if there is no record.

Ms. Fuchs has a knack for the understatement when she muses that "there are some things that simply are not credible", both as to Theresa Payton’s statements and the government’s position as a whole. In a sick kind of way, you almost have to marvel at the intestinal fortitude of the Bushies to so ferociously and completely yank the chain of every court they come in contact with. Whatever the people and their Congress want, whatever the courts demand, the answer from the Bush Brigade is always "nope". The audacity of nope.

Here is the EOP (Government) Response pleading filed yesterday (3/21/08), and Here is the sworn declaration in support thereof filed by everybody’s favorite technical guru, Theresa Payton.

As you will recall, CREW and NSA had applied for an Order To Show Cause, which was granted by Judge Facciola with a return deadline of yesterday. In a nutshell, the Administration has responded that it has destroyed most all of the hard drives that could contain the missing emails and therefore "it would be fruitless to undertake an e-mail recovery plan that the court proposed." I know you all are as shocked as I am at this turn of events (insert appropriate Condiliar Rice bewilderment phrase here).

It appears that there is some new information, or at least expansion of previous information and positions, in the EOP response pleading and, more importantly, the latest Declaration of Theresa Payton. I will be very interested to see what our local tech experts have to say about this, and how they, from a practical standpoint, think Judge Facciola and the Court should respond as to orders and sanctions. My quick take is that it sure was cavalier of Bushco to keep on destroying hard drives and computers with all this information on them when they have been on notice, both from the Presidential Records Act and Pat Fitzgerald’s inquiries, that they had a legal duty to preserve evidence and records and that the emails were an important issue. But they willfully destroyed anyway.

Legal Disclaimer: As I was a little tough on my Bay State friends yesterday in Trash Talk, I wanted to honor them by posting the video to the song that kept running through my mind as I was drafting this. That would be "Hard Driving Man" by one of Beantown’s best, The J. Geils Band. Unfortunately, I can find no authentic videos by J. Geils, probably because it is a pretty old song. I did find the attached video by a cover band that isn’t too bad on sound and music, although the video quality is a tad shaky. J. Geils is one of the best live concert bands ever; Boston can be proud of these boys.

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