Sprinting To Teh Finish: Missing Email Edition

A little something to tide you all over. Because I know you are suffering withdrawal symptoms from a lack of malicious BS from your government. Hot off the press at the Washington Post:

The White House is missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office, according to an internal White House draft document obtained by The Associated Press.

The nine-page outline of the White House’s e-mail problems invites companies to bid on a project to recover the missing electronic messages.

The work would be carried out through April 19, 2009, according to the Office of Administration request for contractors’ proposals, which was dated June 20.

The draft document outlines a process in which private contractors would attempt to retrieve lost e-mail from 35,000 disaster recovery backup tapes dating back to October 2003, a period covering such events as growing violence in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the criminal probe into the disclosure that Valerie Plame had worked for the CIA.

The recovery project would not use backup tapes going back to March 2003, according to the draft document, even though an earlier White House assessment suggested e-mails were missing from that period as well.

Industry experts point out that relying on the backup system to ensure accurate retention, preservation and retrieval of all e-mails is problematic because it does not take into account deleted e-mails.

This is truly shocking. Really, who could have predicted such mendacious obstructionistic crap from the Bush/Cheney Administration? If the DC District Court can hold Toni Locy in contempt, I wonder if perhaps they can find some maximum hurt contempt provisions for a few of the White House Mafiosi too?

Paging MadDog. Mr. MadDog to the EW courtesy desk please. We have red meat for you. I am working on something already and, quite frankly, you folks kill me on the email dissection anyway. So, I respectfully request that the finest collective in all of the blogosphere sharpen their scalpels and see where we stand on this case. And feel free to discuss anything else too, I will be back shortly.

ADDENDUM: A couple of very cogent points from Earl of Huntington from the comments in the prior thread:

What are the accomplishments of the stellar WH telecoms team, assembled over the past several years? Its purported goals included solving this and other problems in the publicly acknowledged White House telecoms system they’ve built and operated. Although let’s not forget the additional telecoms systems the WH did or does use that they do not publicly acknowledge, eg, the mysterious, multi-faceted RNC system.

I hope that Sen. Obama’s has already assembled a dedicated team to design and implement a whole new WH telecoms system. Because whatever Bush’s IT-political gurus leave behind manifestly won’t work as described and will be loaded with back door keys and bugs. Without it, Obama’s team will have their hamstrings and Achilles tendons slashed before getting into the starting blocks. They will also be in violation of the PRO from day one.

The cost of a competent new WH telecoms system will be considerable, I would guess at least $100 million, which the Democrats should clearly label as another legacy of George W. Bush.

  1. WilliamOckham says:

    If they’re going to distract like this, the very least they could do is post the [email protected]#$%^&*() document.

    BTW, that’s an AP article, but I guess it’s ok to quote from it since its in the WaPo.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    It may also be worth nothing that Mitchell Wade of MZM got the ‘contract’ to set up Cheney’s ‘office equipment’ in 2000. Mitchell Wade is the BFF of Dusty Foggo, corrupt #3 at CIA under Porter Goss. (Are those guys in jail yet…?)

    Is letting this ‘recovery’ project out to PRIVATE CONTRACTORS yet another opening for ‘Son of MZM’ to do a little more voodoo on WH servers?

    Why isn’t Congress overseeing a special investigation?
    Why isn’t the FBI involved in watching this investigation?
    Why isn’t there a special prosecutor on this case?

    And FWIW: just what kind of system did Mitchell Wade set up for Cheney via that MZM contract? Did the specs involve providing Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney and Cathy Martin with their own magical little ‘SuperDuperDELETE’ icons enabling the deletion of entire server directories via a hubbaHubbaMambo Delete Everything Forever!! button on their computers, in order to ensure that no possible documentation of their serious national security crimes would ever be recovered?

    Technically, such a feature would be relatively simple to implement on the right system.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Or did it provide users of the OVP subsystem with “administrator” access to other White House systems? Seems a little too obvious and traceable, but you never know.

      Clearly, some of the most critical limitations and malfunctions of the White House’s telecom system are intentional. Many of its weaknesses are archaic, meaning they no longer plagued comparable systems elsewhere when this system was installed. Clearly, the White House outsourced too much to third parties, especially the RNC, apparently without adequate performance requirements in the contracts. (Assuming those contracts are even in writing.) What’s one more pile of debt bricks on the taxpayer serf’s back?

      [My reference to “PRO” should have been “PRA”, the Presidential Records Act, which this administration respects about as much as Congress or the Geneva Conventions.]

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Or did it provide users of the OVP subsystem with “administrator” access to other White House systems? Seems a little too obvious and traceable, but you never know

        Indeed, after watching these people more closely the past few years, it makes sense that they’d approach this via privately created, ‘hidden admin’ privileges.

        FWIW, have only skimmed the article that MadDogs links, but will read it more thoroughly tonight. Even at a glance, it looks sensationally good. Thx, MD!

  3. Peterr says:

    From the article cited above:

    The White House draft document says that the number of days of missing e-mail ranges from 25 to 225, a range that industry experts say would make it difficult to bid on a recovery project.

    I’d love to see the formal request for bids on this project. The
    vagueness and open-ended-ness must have been quite something — kind of like Iraq, the CPA, and the vague, open-ended contracts that were put out for bid there. (Of course, the most vague and open-ended contracts were no-bid contracts, but that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of fish . . .)

    And that worked out so well for everyone involved. Well, everyone but the Iraqis, I suppose.

    Still, the private companies made lots of money on those contracts, whether or not anything got built, whether or not anything actually worked, and whether or not anything was actually needed in the first place. They didn’t seem to have any trouble bidding on the projects — it was the work that was the tough part.

  4. MadDog says:

    I would concur with earlofhuntingdon that if Obama does win in November, he had best have a crackerjack team of IT Security folks ready on January 20, 2009 to completely disinfect all aspects of the White House IT structure.

    Wormholes, trojans and every other kind of tech infestation could easily be hiding in White House servers, routers, and end-user systems.

    If I had my way (and all monies available), I’d not use a single bit of existing White House IT infrastructure.

    I’d tear it all out and replace every inch of cabling, servers, routers and end-user systems.

    At the same time, I’d do National Security background checks on every IT staffer/contractor, and probably require each to undergo polygraph exams.

    And that is just at the White House.

    Think of all the compromised “Loyal Bushie” moles that infest the entirety of the Federal Government, and you can imagine how untrustworthy one would view the staffing and systems embedded throughout.

    It boggles my mind, and it should scare the hell out of the incoming Adminstration.

    • Elliott says:

      If I had my way (and all monies available), I’d not use a single bit of existing White House IT infrastructure.

      I’d tear it all out and replace every inch of cabling, servers, routers and end-user systems.

      This is an absolute must, and Congress should appropriate the money for it now.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      If I had my way (and all monies available), I’d not use a single bit of existing White House IT infrastructure.

      I’d tear it all out and replace every inch of cabling, servers, routers and end-user systems.

      At the same time, I’d do National Security background checks on every IT staffer/contractor, and probably require each to undergo polygraph exams.

      ((((((((MadDogs!! ))))))))))
      You’re one of my heroes ;-)))

      Truer words were never typed.
      I can hear the wingnuts howling already — and here’s hoping that some of them sweat in fear at the very thought of what you just wrote.

      Meanwhile, anyone with a brain in their head…

    • R.H. Green says:

      Don’t wait for Jan 20th; there’s the transition period to consider. Plus tearing things out may mean not being able to identify the system’s features.

      • R.H. Green says:

        Responding to myself, I ask,”What to do instead?” Think Rove; don;t put things in writing, use face to face mtgs. The prospect is overwhelming, but so is the alternative.

    • CTMET says:

      I would also give the treatment MadDog recommends for the White House to DOJ. God knows whats gone on there.

    • Rayne says:

      Haven’t had time to stop in…but I concur heartily with that assessment, there is NO secure communications any longer in Washington.


      The bigger problem is that there are virtually no service providers who can rip out and reinstall a secure system in adequate time, at reasonable cost, and with absolute fidelity. I can’t think of a major IT firm that might not have been compromised in the last 8 years.

      Pathetic, really.

    • MrWhy says:

      Should be OK to leave the cabling, shouldn’t it? Mind you, I’d suggest tracing every cable to see there aren’t any extras.

  5. klynn says:

    I’m sorry to go OT:

    Hey, I just got a terrible email forwarded from a conservative Christian family member and the timing was bad… Here’s the context…My grandmother, who was part Native American, died this past week…Yes, a true celebration of life for she lived past 102. I’ve been busy aiding my Mom as she is the final surviving member of her family.

    The email was a crap story about Obama being given an insulting name by some tribes in upstate NY. I do not need to give any additional content of the email, just that appeared to be full of false statements. As I have scanned Native news outlets for a confirmation of the story, I have found none to back the email. Surprise. It reads like a swiftboat commentary…

    I’m wondering if anyone could get me the real story. My guess is it is not a true story and an insult to Native Americans as well as to Obama.

    I would like to forward “the truth” to this family member…If it is even worth my time…Usually, I just ignore these stupid viral vulgarities.

    • Peterr says:

      If it’s the email I think it is, there’s a funny thing about it. Four years ago, the same nickname was bestowed upon John Kerry. Who could have anticipated . . .

      Snopes has the scoop on it (scroll down about two-thirds through the story to get to the part about Obama).

      • klynn says:

        Thanks so much. I usually go there first to check these kind of emails out and just totally forgot to check. Thanks again Peterr (and all with supporting comments.)

        Looks like the email and the email’s creator appear to be the real examples of the “walking Eagle”…

      • Peterr says:

        See my note at 15.

        When klynn said “It reads like a swiftboat commentary” he was absolutely right on target. Just swap out “Kerry” for “Obama” and you’ve got the email smear. Wasn’t true in 2004, and isn’t true in 2008.

    • masaccio says:

      I think you should start replying to all with your own views. I am doing that, and as a result have to get other people to send them to me, because I’m off all the crazy lists.

  6. dopeyo says:

    i agrre with maddog that team obama should install new servers, desktops and networking gear. however, the bush left-overs should be taken to a large warehouse where a team of forensic i.t. nerds would examine them. maybe a bunch of smart i.t. undergrads from georgetown could make this a semester project for credit.

    no telling what a bunch of smart college kids might find. i can’t imagine that a bunch of 50 and 60 year old goopers could securely erase every single machine. and if they did, wouldn’t that be an interesting piece of information?

    this little class project might even lead us to the i.t. contractors who did the secure wipe-and-reinstall. squeeze them a little (”no federal contracts for you while the investigation is active”) and they might tell some interesting tales about Cheney, Addington and what they were so desperate to hide.

    worms, trojans, backdoors and sniffers? wouldn’t it be nice to hear mitchell wade tell a congressional committee why such malware was deliberately installed on federal computers? ask if they knew that this was a federal offense? ask who requested such, and if they got a get-out-of-jail card?

  7. stryder says:

    If it’s so easy to loose 225 days of emails that should pretty much end the debate over e voting right?

  8. Mary says:

    So the same WH that is protecting us from Terrorists by flaming the fourth amendment – – that WH has no in-Gov capacity to restore emails?
    Good Lord.

    Congress is happily buying off on this, bc both parties want to make sure that no one is able to find any evidence of anything that would result in charges on down the line. Think how long it’s been since Fitzgerald had to have mentioned the email issue to DOJ, and how much time there has already been.

    BTW, I’m guessing that contract might get awarded though, even if the emails aren’t found. I’m sure that Cheney will want to make sure that contractor with his personally approved security clearances gets to go sifting through, finding and losing, emails. Seriously – if Gov has to go to contractors for this, that’s pathetic.

    • MadDog says:

      I’ve not been able to find that out by some limited Googling, so if anyone else knows, jump right in.

      As to overall direction, I’m guessing the RNC got their marching orders from the OVP just like everybody else did. Nothing happens without Cheney’s approval.

    • PetePierce says:

      Great question and lots and lots of people have been asking it for a long time, particularly since the reports started that they were hidden/“lost.” You’d have better luck with one of my hobbies–ferretting out the symbols and literary allusions in LOST on ABC.

      Trying to use a search engine to find out will put you into an enigma enshrouded in a mystery.

      Congress dropped the ball; DOJ dropped the ball and the media looked at the ball and said wtf are we supposed to do with it as always.

      As I know you are aware, missing email problems and investigations go back to 1998 when there were key emails missing from the Clinton White House. The Clinton White House used their email accounts for campaign work as well.

      Then Republican candidate Governor Bushie made complaints part of his campaign.

      You’re talking multiple accounts and mulitple contractors and all roads lead to Karl Rove.

      The trail leads all over the place and we’re talking about a motley crew of many many people. And even if you find people with titles that controlled the RNC email–they shift and change and they were told to do x, y, and z by people from DOJ, people from White House Counsel–it seems to be a pretty impossible task although if Congress ever wanted to pin down some key members they could.

      I don’t know what’s more laughable–Waxman’s committee, Conyers’ committee or the bumbling anthrax investigation–speaking of which here’s Glenn’s interview of Grassley who is not buying

      There have been so many people with their hands stirring those email servers, including a number of contractors, and volunteers who work for entities like the RNLA–the Republican National Lawyers Association.

      As you remember, Loo Hoo, it’s not just @ the RNC, but WH was using RNC email servers and aliases to hide email so it’s really quaterbacked at 1600 Pennsylvania and whoever the hell they both used as contractors. It reminds me of the rooms in various cities that ATT used among other Telcoms to wiretap all your emails and conversations.

      Waxman’s staff played the shell game with this including the rnchq” and “gwb.43″ e-mail accounts, which some White House officials, like Rove, used and they got nowhere–the place they always get.

      Boy would I like to get my hands on Addington’s email accounts.

  9. stryder says:

    the clinton scrapegoat

    “We had numerous problems with the email system. It was very poorly constructed and very poorly designed by a contractor prior to Northrop Grumman,” Laura Crabtree Callahan, a former senior IT manager at the Clinton White House told the House Government Reform Committee, which was looking into the Clinton-Gore email problems in March 2000. Callahan, who claimed to have a Ph.D. in Computer Science, went on to become deputy CIO in the United States Department of Homeland Security in the Bush administration but was forced to resign after a Government Computer News broke the story in April 2003 that she had had obtained her advanced computer science degree from a diploma mill run out of a refurbished Motel 6 in Evanston, Wyo. CIOZone was unable to reach Callahan to comment on this story.

    I’d comment on this if I could stop laughing

  10. alabama says:

    No matter who’s elected, Bush, Cheney and Rove can expect all kinds of surveillance from January 21, 2009 until the day(s) they die. Because they’ve set this thing in motion, and that’s where it’s going to stay.

    Not that they’ll have anything very interesting to share….

  11. MadDog says:

    And while I was looking, I stumbled across this misaddressed email over at BushCheney 04/DeadLetter Office:

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Tim Griffin – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2004 6:34 PM
    To: [email protected]; Lindy Landreaux – Political [mailto:[email protected]]; Miriam Moore – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]; Victoria Newton – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]; Shawn Reinschmiedt – Research/Communications [[email protected]]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
    Subject: Re: caging

    Tim Griffin
    Research Director and
    Deputy Communications Director
    Republican National Committee
    310 First Street, S.E.
    Washington, D.C. 20003
    w:(202) 863-8815
    f: (202) 863-8744
    [email protected]

    > —–Original Message—–
    > From: Kelly Porter [[email protected]]
    > To: Lindy Landreaux – Political [[email protected]]; Miriam Moore – Research/Communications [[email protected]]; Victoria Newton – Research/Communications [[email protected]]; Tim Griffin – Research/Communications [[email protected]]; Shawn Reinschmiedt – Research/Communications [[email protected]]; [email protected] [[email protected]]; Stephen Shiver [[email protected]]; [email protected] [[email protected]]
    > Sent: Thu Aug 26 18:12:49 2004
    > Subject: caging
    > Total as of today is 1834.
    > Kelly
    > ATTACHMENT: Caging-1.xls

    And this:

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Tim Griffin – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 5:55 PM
    To: Kelly Porter [mailto:[email protected]]; Lindy Landreaux – Political [mailto:[email protected]]; Miriam Moore – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]; Victoria Newton – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]; Shawn Reinschmiedt – Research/Communications [mailto:[email protected]]; [email protected]; Stephen Shiver [mailto:[email protected]]; [email protected]
    Subject: RE: caging

    thank you, perfect
    > —–Original Message—–
    > From: Kelly Porter [mailto:[email protected]]
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 5:47 PM
    > To: Lindy Landreaux – Political; Miriam Moore – Research/Communications; Victoria Newton – Research/Communications; Tim Griffin – Research/Communications; Shawn Reinschmiedt – Research/Communications; [email protected]; Stephen Shiver; [email protected]
    > Subject: caging
    > The total to date is 1771.
    > Thanks.
    > Kelly
    > ATTACHMENT: Caging.xls

    (My Bold)

    For those of you who don’t remember, here’s a couple of facts about good ol’ Timmy per Wiki::

    …was an interim United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas from December 2006 to June 2007, appointed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The circumstances surrounding Griffin’s appointment were disclosed during the controversy about dismissed U.S. attorneys; Griffin’s predecessor, Bud Cummins, was dismissed to make the position available to Griffin. Griffin now runs his own businesses in Little Rock, Arkansas…

    …From June 2002 to December 2004, Griffin was Research Director and Deputy Communications Director for Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign. In October 2004, journalist and author Greg Palast alleged that Griffin was involved in an effort to target 70,000 voters – students, deployed military personnel and homeless people in predominantly African American and Democratic areas — for vote caging during the 2004 election…

    …In April 2005, Griffin began working at the White House as Karl Rove’s aide, with the title of Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director in the Office of Political Affairs.

    Looks like that misaddressed email of Tim Griffin’s is a smoking gun with respect to illegal vote caging, no?

  12. pdaly says:

    I have no idea about the OVP and EOP email systems, and my lack of understanding has me hoping against hope that some incriminating emails survive in unexpected places like Blackberry accounts (did people check their WH emails via their blackberries?) and foreign intelligence agencies’ mirror databases of (eavesdropped) WH communications.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, they all had them — and Verizon is likely a Blackberry service provider, too, so she’s probably been carrying on over completely unsecured mobile networks.

      RE: caging and Griffin — we’ve known about the dead letters evidence for quite a long time, think that went back to same time Waxman was tearing into Abramoff. But it was never, ever dealt with because of the politicization of the administration offices that would have been responsible for dealing with this. Frustrating.

      Worse, you can be certain they are still doing it.

      • MadDog says:

        …caging and Griffin — we’ve known about the dead letters evidence for quite a long time…

        Must be that swiss cheese memory of mine, but I had never seen those emails and the appropriately criminally named “caging” spreadsheet. *g*

        And yeah, when the criminals are in charge of the DOJ, whyever would we expect them to charge themselves.

  13. MadDog says:

    And totally OT since I’m stumbling across all kinds of things on the Net, did you know that Senator McSame received an Antique sword as a gift from Georgia’s President Mikhil Saakashvili back on 8/26/2006, and that he kept it because “Non-acceptance would cause donor embarrassment”?

    He also gets a lot of rugs from Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai (see here and here).

      • Rayne says:

        Oh, that’s right, there was a “sternly worded letter” wreaking our wrath upon the wrongdoers in the caging scandal.


        And the letter went out on our watch, after we voted for change in 2006.

        You know it might be time to rattle that cage again, because they are actively working on more caging and caging-like scams right now. If only somebody with speed dial access to Sheldon Whitehouse would give him a buzz…

  14. yonodeler says:

    If the White House has a unique IT system, it could hardly have been tested to the extent that most systems are, could it? It would be highly likely to have significant, exploitable security weaknesses, wouldn’t it?

    Oh, now I see MadDog already has answers @ 7.

  15. jackie says:

    I know totally EPU’d, but here is the thing re; Indian name for Barak..

    ‘The Illinois senator who is leading rival Hillary Clinton in their race for the party’s presidential nomination, joined the Crow Nation, a tribe of some 12,100 members in Montana, taking on a native name and honorary parents in a traditional ceremony.

    Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, was “adopted” by Hartford and Mary Black Eagle and given a name which means “one who helps all people of this land.”‘


  16. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Just a quick, belated follow-up MadDogs.

    That link you posted above is really worth anyone’s time to read.
    Now in my Bookmarks.
    Thx for that one!