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Bush Won't Be "The Online President" 236

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-this-can-be-subpoenaed dept.
satch89450 writes: "The Electronic Telegraph says here that President Bush has retired his electronic mail habit, citing FOIA access. As a point in fact, The New York Times reportedly obtained a copy of the farewell e-letter to 42 of Bush's friends. Just how bad can it get? Here is an old news report from The Associated Press via amarillonet of an auction of the 1992 e-mail to John Glenn. Privacy advocates should be scared ..." And an Anonymous Coward who points to the same article asks: "Whatever happened to the right of the people to be secure in their ... papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures?" Good question -- what did happen to that?
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President Bush Signs Off E-mail

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  • It's been a while since I've read the Constitution. Not exactly my idea of entertainment. But on closer inspection, it seems that the 4th Amendment has indeed been pretty thoroughly shit upon.
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Probable cause? That is still usually intact, in that the court says there is probable cause. Unfortunately, the definition of "probable cause" has been expanded to being black in a rich neighborhood or peaceably assembling to protest.

    Supported by oath or affirmation? Or anonymous tip, or evidence gathered (voluntarily, w/o a warrant) from some outside source.

    Particularly describing? That one is pretty much gone now. If you're suspected of a computer crime, they'll take anything with a circuit board in it and any literature (journals, textbooks, etc.) vaguely related to computers.

    My faith in the American judicial system as a counterbalance to overenthusiastic, vote-scrounging lawmakers has just dropped another notch.


    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • >you didn't see W himself complaining

    If only that was the real reason (dubya not complaining because he has a sense of humor).

    He seems to steer clear of anything to do with Clinton, funny or not. I think it is because his handlers tell him to. There is no political gain at this point in doing otherwise.

    ---

  • Quite easily. Did Nixon do a stupid thing? Yeah, just like Clinton. Did Nixon use his office to delay the investigation? Yeah, just like Clinton did. Did Nixon lie about his actions? Yeah, just like Clintion did. Note the pattern?

    Did Reagan/Bush do a stupid thing? Yeah, just like Clinton. Did Reagan/Bush use their office to delay the investigation? Yeah, just like Clinton did. Did Reagan/Bush lie about their actions? Yeah, just like Clinton did. Notice a pattern?

    How and why did these supposed ethical standards of conduct get magically repealed when Reagan and Bush were in office, but suddenly come back into effect when Clinton screwed up? How do you justify impeaching Bill but not Ronnie and George? You can't, you won't, you never did. Because "ethical conduct" is a weapon, not a standard, that we only apply to the people we don't like.

    I wish people would be honest for a change and just admit that the real reason they hate Clinton/Bush/Reagan/Bush is because of their politics, and ethical conduct is just rationalizing after the fact.


  • Its not a bad move by Bush to protect his personal information from being subjected to ridicule via way of the FOIA. Its the same people who passed this law that has used it against many people often abusing it and hiding under the curtain of the FOIA.

    Lets be realistic here if possible about the situation, and shoot from the hip should you think its conspiracy based. We all theoretically have the right to Freedom of Speech and privacy, and many go about daily having these rights violated without even knowing. Cookies, spam resellers, telemarketers, etc., etc..

    Sure we have crypto here, but let us not forget these same people who believe in a persons right to privacy tried to secretly shaft us with HR46 [cryptome.org] late last quarter.

    But wait before someone rebutts with a "That was a bill for criminals who use crypto", lets take a hi tech case to a courtroom trial shall we. Jury based, in theory a jury of ones own peers. Does anyone honestly believe they will get a jury of their own peers, or rather a jury of retired computer-phobic e-misfits who sit home watching Oprah and Judge Judy? This is the sad reality is that privacy is very limited in the United States although many would love to dispute this.

    Anyways I don't feel like rambling on more than I already do.

    The Big Breach [antioffline.com]
  • ooooooo....the Clintons were putting press releases on the internet in '92. Is that so? How did you find it? Archie? Gopher? back in them days putting it "on the internet" was a good as hiding it....
  • I would expect that he could. Nancy Reagan did that, well as close to that as she could. She got her own external phone-line installed in the whitehouse specifically so she could call her astrologer and not have to worry about her conversations being subject to any kind of public exposure due to using government owned equipment.
  • All hat, no cattle.
  • Maybe instead of admiting that Americans have increasingly less privacy, he should be fighting for our rights.

    That kind of sort of is his job.

    Oh, wait, I must be wrong. Since I just KNOW that the president has a purpose.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • that you don't mind your mother erading in the newpaper.

    Best advice I ever got from a lawyer
  • ...being exposed by Democrats makes this look like a very wise move by Bush. "Won't be the online President"?? Then neither was Clinton, according to that article anyway.

    (And any past or present bashers of Ken Starr might want to look into exactly who the Democrats in Congress decided had the integrity and non-partisan judgement to delve into Bob Packwood's diaries, back when one's "private life" was worth exploring in every detail as long as the target was a Republican.)

    We reap what we sow...and we have not yet begun to experience the full effects of the support this nation gave Bill Clinton and Democrats in Congress as they trampled common sense, decency, the rule of law, over the past 10 years or so.

  • by StenD (34260) on Monday March 19, 2001 @08:58PM (#352811)
    For the same reason that the government can tell its employees not to browse porn on government computers, Prince George cannot expect to send private email through government network.
    It's not just email sent (or processed) on government computers, and it's not just the President. Ever since Sen. Tower had his personal diaries made public, government officials at all levels have been increasingly reluctant to put their private thoughts into writing, because of the danger that they might become public. As a result you can expect that few, if any, of the memoirs from the Clinton Administration to be based upon contemporaneous diaries kept by the persons involved. Instead, most of them will be based upon the recollections of the parties involved five, ten, twenty years after the fact, and, regardless of your opinion as to the character of the persons involved, I would hope that we can agree that this will not lead to accurate memoirs.

    It's not just government, either. If you spend any amount of time in a corporate environment you learn what to say, and what not to say, in email or voice mail. This isn't just a matter of external legal action, but internal personnel actions. I'll admit to being both being called on the carpet about unprofessional voice mail, and complaining about unprofessional email. In the former case, I accepted the blame, and in the latter I share part of the responsibility for the tone of the conversation, but the fact in both cases is that once your words are recorded, it becomes difficult to explain the context they were made in when they are being held against you.
  • dns hacks? you aren't really a quick one yourself are you?
    moron
  • I can understand Junior wanting to avoid scrutiny under the FOIA. But if Presidential email is public record {FOIAble], why isn't paper mail? Is there some sort of special exemption for private correspondence?

    There is a practical difficulty in searching through paper as the tobacco litigants are discovering. They now have a warehouse full of documents on court discovery but no index to find stuff.

    The President's fear is that someone would download the docs and use grep to find the incriminating stuff.

    Don't expect this president to be giving written orders to sell arms to terrorists in Iran to buy arms for terrorists in Central america.

    Problem with plausible deniability is that if there is a similar screw up under Bush it may not matter that people cannot prove it was his fault. The most damaging criticism of Bush amongst voters is the accusation that he is not in control.

  • Yes, trot out all the totally unsubstantiated slurs on Clinton, and then claim the moral highground. You're not very convincing, buddy.

    Republicans spent $50 million dollars investigating Clinton, and with the full help of the Federalist society, who are the richest and best connected conservative lawyers in the country (Olson, Starr, Scalia, Thomas, etc.) And with all of this unprecedented firepower the only thing they could actually find was that Clinton received some blowjobs. That's a fact, buddy, and it's one you're going to have to deal with.

    Or are you so foolish to believe that the enemies of Clinton had evidence of murder, rape, extortion, and treason and decided not to use it?

    As for Thomas, his name should be dragged through the mud. Everything he's done since then has proved that he's nowhere near the calibre required of a supreme court justice. The man never asks a question and never writes an opinion. He always votes with Scalia. Basically, his job is to be a proxy vote for Scalia. He's a lightweight. And he's also one of Bush's often-stated models of what a supreme court justice should be.

    We'd better hope Strom Thurmond kicks off soon, so the Senate can block any and all Supreme Court nominations by this illegitimate president. Otherwise we're going to pay the price for the next forty years or so.

  • Then how can they still be trying to supress it?
  • All letters written by the President get entered into the Public Domain. Bush can't even write an email to his daughters asking them about their day without it being open to the public. I think email started being part of the Public Domain with President Reagan. I'm pretty sure all of his emails were kept for posperity.

  • How would encrypting his messages protect him from having to turn over the documents under the Freedom of information act?

    Rate me on Picture-rate.com [picture-rate.com]
  • In answer to the /. editor's question, check out Jeff Rosen's book "The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America". Apparently, there was a time when common practice was _not_ to allow personal papers, diaries, etc as evidence. Rosen traces the errosion of this standard and extrapolates the current, invasive environment to the way email is handled in the courts.

    Started reading this book recently, from what I've gotten through so far I'd recommend it...
  • Actually, I'm referring to the state-wide recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. You know, the one that the Supreme Court of the US stopped for a couple of days, and then declared had to be cancelled because there wasn't enough time left to finish it.

    Seems to me that before November 7th, manual recounts were the norm for any disputed election across the country. Hell, the Repubs were asking for a manual recount in New Mexico at the same time they were spouting crap about manual recounts being inherently faulty and "inviting mischief" in Florida, such is their sleazery and chutzpah.

  • "Never mind that the Chinese government funneled money to the Clinton and Gore campaigns in exchange for nuclear secrets. "

    You mean that warhead technology that the Chinese government tested during the Bush I administration?

    "And FYI, the modern era of dragging public officials through the mud can be traced back to the Democrats doing it to Nixon. "

    Dragging your opponents through the mud is an ancient political strategy predating the U.S. by a few millenia. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of perpetuating it but neither can realistically be blamed for originating it.

    "Don't blame me. I'm a Libertarian "

    Keep voting Libertarian. Third parties are good for democracy. I reserve most of my contempt for moral, cultural, and religious conservatives, libertarians and the occasional bout of fiscal conservativism I can live with.

  • Current presidents never slam former presidents because the current president will be a former someday and the other party will have a president in office in the future.

  • Am I the only one thinking that SOMEBODY -- be it the PGP people, the Free Software Foundation, or Microsoft for that matter -- should figure out a TRULY easy, TRULY fast, TRULY seamless means for the common email user to encrypt a message?

    Yup, it's been done. The standard is SMIME v3 amd it uses digital certificates for encryption and authentication. Microsoft's IE (4 and up) has support for certs, so does Netscape 4.x (not sure about NS v6 tho'; the "final preview" I looked at last year had all the crypto removed). To encrypt an email is a click of the menu bar button. Ditto to sign an email. When you receive a signed/encrypted email, Outlook (or Outlook Express, or Netscape Messenger) displays an icon to denote the fact. Couldn't be simpler. Why isn't it more widely used? Well, you need to have a certificate. You can pay for one from Verisign (probly not a popular choice for /.ers). You can get a free one for email only (certs can be used for other types of authenticaton, eg web site access) from Thawte, but they require all sorts of personal info from you, including SSN, IIRC (probly even less popular choice for /.ers). However, if you're willing to add a new root certificate to your browser (which is easy) you can make and use your own certificates. I use certs for email security and also for securing acces to certain web-based admin pages. Secure and convenient. Luvvly.

    If you're interested in using certs, you can do most everything you need with OpenSSL [openssl.org].

  • ooooooo....the Clintons were putting press releases on the internet in '92. Is that so? How did you find it? Archie? Gopher? back in them days putting it "on the internet" was a good as hiding it....

    Personally I used the Web. However the press releases were distributed through NNTP which had close to half a million users at the time.

    I got Gore's support for the Web early on when we had very few sites and fewer users, in large measure because he wanted to publish government information to make it generally available.

  • > What would happen if a Senator (or CongressCritter) read DeCSS out loud on the floor of the Senate or House? Would it then be a matter of Public Record?

    Never mind DeCSS, how 'bout OT III?

    (Oh, wait, someone did that in Sweden, which is what led to the lawsuit against Zenon, which is what led to the DMCA threat against Slashdot, and wow, we've come full circle ;-)

  • by q[alex] (32151) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:12PM (#352825) Homepage
    see:

    http://www.clas.ufl.edu/docs/Conlon_on_Computing /c o1294.html

    an exerpt:

    "Your email must be treated just as you treat your paper mail. You discard messages of a transient nature and retain the official documents (if any) that are connected with the business of the University. Some of us receive (and therefore file) more business related documents than others. Committee chairs, department chairs, deans and administrators will, naturally, receive and file more paper and email official documents."

    The same rules (more stringent) apply to government officials. Simply put, public records, whether they are official court documents or an email from the pres, are public records, and citizens have the legal right to request to see them (within reason). Because som e email from Bush might be public record, annoying lawyers could request all email "pertaining to Colin Powell" as public record, and the email between Prez Bush and his brother Jeb about how Colin Powell is a lousy golfer would have to be turned over and aired publicly.

    At least, that's how I understand it all.
  • That's great. Where did you learn to be a comedian, Franks comedy school for the mentally challenged?

    BTW I think you got the accent mixed up with some other state.

    Let me guess. You learned everything you know from watching TV?
    -----------------------
    Jeremy 'PeelBoy' Amberg
  • Dubya scored higher on all standard test both him and gore took.

    That would be "both he and Gore."
    So I'm guessing he also scored higher than you.

  • We've essentially decided to give up any sense of privacy and protections against self-incrimination if it is written down. This is wrong

    Think of it from the other side for a minute. Allow me to make the crime hypothetically worse to make it seem more enticing to throw principle away: you believe Sen. Packwood tried to rape your daughter based on some credible testimony, but there's not yet enough evidence that's come to light. He's been referring to his diary in order to refresh his memory as to what happened at various times, but he's using the information only to help himself. His home has been legally searched for evidence to no avail. You want to see what he wrote down on the night in question... why should his diary be exempt from the search warrant?

    Yes, we could have a legal system that respected diaries, but why? What's so precious about a diary?

    Our constitutional safeguards against self-incrimination are primarily to remove torture or like punishments being used in advance to coerce testimony. If we as a species had infallible pinocchio-noses, we would not have such a right. It would be perfectly reasonable to ask a defendant questions to find out the truth behind allegations of victimization, as it is perfectly reasonable to find out what they told other people and what they wrote down.

  • why doesn't he just download GPG (or any other encryption program) and start using it? If he does this, would the "open record requests" require him to relinquish the key?

    Doesn't matter. You encrypt using the public key of the person you're sending to, and their private key is needed to decrypt. So W doesn't have the key that decrypts. (Just as long as he doesn't keep a plaintext copy of the message!)



  • Congress hasn't changed anything. This is a case of GW avoiding the humiliation of having his dyslexic e-mail aired in public by the Freedom Of Information Act requests.


    And speaking of dragging heels, I wouldn't exactly call Ronnie and George Sr.'s cooperation with the Iran-Contra investigation 'expedient'.



    Seth
  • So who did fire Cox? The Solicitor-General, your hero, Robert Bork.

    At the order of his boss. While I feel that Bork made the wrong decision, his knowledge of the constitution is first rate.

    LK
  • You'll have to forgive me my ignorance, but I lost interest in tracking all the ins and outs of our nations capital when it was decided that lying to a grand jury was not an impeachable defense.

    I'd just like to know where does this elitist outlook about the President came from? Everyone seems to think it's funny to act like the man is one step above retarded. My question is, what has he done to deserve this? I do know that he was only a C student (whether high school or college, I'm not sure). While that doesn't make him a nobel laureate, it doesn't make him an idiot either. And from the Katz' Columbine pieces, I would expect that most Slashdotter's would agree that high school grades shouldn't be considered a measure of intelligence (besides, I know several PhD who are dumb as dirt).

    So, riddle me this: In what instance has the REAL President of the United States (not the one in the Saturday Night Live script) demonstrated a sever lack of intelligence?

    Please don't cite policy decisions that you don't like as lack of intelligence. Scratching the back of his corporate buddies made be bad public policy, but not necessarily bad private policy. So, please just the facts.

  • Here in Indiana, the legislature tried to sneak through a law protecting the privacy of their emails - but the newspapers picked up the story and are having a field day. If you're on the job, the boss (in this case, We The People) have a right to that information. At home, that's another story - but of course in the President's case, we're talking about the ultimate Home Office.
  • The whole purpose of this law is to prevent things like Nixon's 18.5 minute gap from being used to deceive the public.
    That was wrong, but the result of that has not been more openness, but less. Presidents starting with, I beleive, Eisenhower had their Oval Office conversations taped, but no President after Nixon has done so (openly, at least). The ongoing release of the Johnson tapes is helping to provide a more complete picture of his administration, but we won't have that with Ford, Carter, Reagan, ..., and the increasing legal "openness" is instead reducing our knowledge of the internal workings of the Presidencies to below that of pre-electronic times.
  • Am I the only one thinking that SOMEBODY -- be it the PGP people, the Free Software Foundation, or Microsoft for that matter -- should figure out a TRULY easy, TRULY fast, TRULY seamless means for the common email user to encrypt a message?
    As much as I am loathe to say something nice about it, Lotus Notes does that. I can configure Notes to automatically encrypt all email I send from it, or can have an individual message encrypted with three mouse clicks. It sucks planetoids through buckytubes when it comes to following RFC822, and you can only encrypt email sent to other Notes users, but they've got the easy/fast/seamless parts down.
  • Having the President's electronic correspondence from the White House be part of the public record is a bad thing? Please. This has exactly squat to do with my privacy. Or your privacy. We're not the President, what we say is not part of the Public Record and the FOIA does not apply to things we write. It does apply to Bushy-boy, though, and--dammit if you don't like it but I strongly believe it--this is a Very Good Thing(tm). There's a line, probably, somewhere. But it doesn't impact me where they draw it so long as no President can be using e-mail to circumvent having things be a part of the public record were it snail-mail correspondence. He gives up a lot of rights to be one of the most recognizable people in the world. I wouldn't be expecting a lot of privacy if I were one of the most famous men in the world, using computers that belong to the American People to conduct personal correspondence.
  • DeCSS never was copyrighted by the MPAA/DVD consortium etc. It's not a matter of illegally distributing a copyrighted work, but the fact that it's a tool to circumvent an access protection scheme, which is illegal under the DMCA. Doesn't matter who wrote it or who owns copyright, because by it's very function, it's illegal under the DMCA.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:03PM (#352861)
    It's hard to type "www.(whatever).com" when there aren't any W's on your keyboard.
  • by hawk (1151)
    did they actually recover the keys? I hadn't heard that.


    I was amused, especially when I wondered how they were going to spell illiam J Clinton after remving the keys . . .


    hawk, who once found a keycap in the hallway outside an office. It was, of course, the "Esc" key, which was apparently taking itself a bit too seriously . . .

  • So which is it? Is "behavior around women" an important characteristic for those holding high office, or isn't it?

    Are you really so stupid that you cannot discern the difference between sexual harassment in the workplace and consensual sex between two adults? The former indicates a lack of respect for women while the latter does not. And the latter is all that they could dig up on Clinton.

  • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:17PM (#352870)
    > If he does this, would the "open record requests" require him to relinquish the key?

    Yes. He's the President and not a private citizen. All of Clinton/Gore's email was subject to subpoena. Remember all the hubub about the accidentally missing backups tapes with Gore emails. Do you really think Congress, while investigating the President for impeachment, would say "Oh, it's encrypted... well, it must be a private message between the POTUS and the VP, so we'll let that one go."

    The whole purpose of "Open Records" laws are to keep the records "open". Letting a loophole like "unless encrypted" through would guarantee that every piece of email was encrypted and, therefore, not "open". Imagine a world where every FOIA request was denied because the documents were encrypted. They wouldn't even have to bother with "National Security" exemptions anymore.
  • Everything used to be the property of the President. At first papers were donated to some university and later to a presidential libary.

    And then Nixon claimed to own the tapes ...

  • While I feel that Bork made the wrong decision, his knowledge of the constitution is first rate.

    That's just what I want in a Supreme Court Justice: Someone who makes bad decisions.

  • If that's the case, why didn't he say so?

    He did and was lambasted by the Republicans for doing so.

  • by metis (181789) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:17PM (#352876) Homepage
    For the same reason that the government can tell its employees not to browse porn on government computers, Prince George cannot expect to send private email through government network.

    His correspondence is public record unless classified, and it cannot be classified unless it is a matter of national security.

    So his recent email to the CEO of Alcoa:

    Hi buddy, California is yours, if the regulators annoy you, all you have to do is whistle.

    will one day be in the national archive.

  • > What about what goes on in the residential portion of the white house?

    He's President. Just about everything he does is subject to scrutiny. If there were *any* loophole like "except in this room," you can bet that Nixon would have not had conversations about Watergate in the Oval Office.

    Public officials have to make all sorts of information public that ordinary citizens don't. Howard Stern, for example, ended his gubernatorial candidacy because he didn't want to release his financial records (or at least that was his stated reason).
  • by Booker (6173) on Monday March 19, 2001 @07:51PM (#352888) Homepage
    From the article:


    In a mournful farewell computer message to 42 "dear friends" and relatives, Mr Bush said: "My lawyers tell me all correspondence by email is subject to open record requests. Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course of action is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing with each of you."

    With that, Mr Bush announced "sadly I sign off", adding: "I will miss your ideas and encouragement. So perhaps we will talk by phone."


    Now... obviously he didn't write that. If it had said

    "My legalistic team tell me, email, and, all correspondence by email is subjectinated to open record askinations. Since I do not want my private talking-tos seen at by people, and, enemies, and such, out to embarrass, the only path of action is not to correlate in cyberspace. This unhappies me. I have enjoy conversating with each all of you."

    With that, Mr Bush announced "sadly I type off", adding: "I will miss your ideas, entourages, and budget plans. So mebbe we will talk by that thing with the two speakers with the calculator buttons."

    ---

  • I agree with you that Sen. Packwood's situation was attrocious. You can't be forced to testify against yourself, but we can claim your diary (your words to yourself) and use it against you?

    We've essentially decided to give up any sense of privacy and protections against self-incrimination if it is written down. This is wrong.

    Alex
  • Just because he knows about the constitution doesn't mean he wants it upheld.

    He's pro second amendment and the NOW doesn't want him. That's good enough for me.

    LK
  • by Seinfeld (243496) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:23PM (#352905)
    Dear friendilees
    It is most saddifying to enstop electrical males toward personas and others to who I have been sending to. Many regretabilities,
    Predisent Bush
    -----------
  • This is absolutely deserved. The Republicans were were the ones that raised hell about Gore making fund raising calls from his office (like he was supposed to go to a 7/11 to do it). They were the ones that sought to embarass Clinton by first holding a hearing about an ancient money-losing land deal and then twisting it into an inquiry about his extramarital affairs. The Republicans have been at the forefront of dragging public figures' private lives into the spotlight, so let them reap what they sow.

    If Bush wants to send secret e-mail love letters to the big-wigs at the NRA, the tobacco lobby, and the Christian Coalition, he can do it from a privately-owned computer in the home that he pays for.

  • by btempleton (149110) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:25PM (#352910) Homepage
    The point is that the written correspondence of the President is a matter of public record if it's not classified. While we want to use encryption in our private lives, we have decided that the actions of our public officials should be public. As such, we don't let them use encryption unless public trusts like national security would be threatened.

    Do you want your public officials using encryption to encrypt up their records of kickbacks and graft? Their secret deals with other officials?

    Now all this really means is that people learn to do the stuff they want secret, including the illegal stuff, in ephemeral forms rather than writing. Though Nixon learned that you had better not have tape recorders on.

    All these present interesting public issues. How much privacy do public officials get when in their offices? Should we grant special privacy to certain records to avoid people refusing to document them at all?

    I'm presuming that if Bush has a computer in his private residence, and uses it to E-mail his friends strictly about non-governmental matters, he can encrypt them. And if they are not about government, people can't FOIA them. They can still subponea them, and even demand he hand over encryption keys, if they are relevant to a case.

    This is one of the big issues of E-mail. E-mail ends up being halfway between written records, which are subject to subponea, and spoken ones which are normally not recorded and in many states can't legally be recorded. We haven't figured out a good way to treat it in the law.
  • why should his diary be exempt from the search warrant?
    Except there was no search warrant issued. The Senate "Ethics" Committee and the Justice department issued subpoenas, and there's a significant difference between the two. While they may have the same purpose, to obtain evidence, with a search warrant the government has to locate the evidence. In the case of a subponea, the recipient is required to provide the evidence, even when the evidence could incriminate the recipient. Get a search warrant, serve the search warrant, go after the person for obstruction of justice if you need to, and I'll be in your corner, but if a subponea can be used to require a person to produce evidence of their own possibly illegal conduct, why don't we just serve every murder suspect with a subponea to produce the murder weapon, and jail them for contempt of court when they fail to comply?
  • I'd like to see your MBA please. This is techno elitism at it's worst. Just because he does not share your political views does not mean that he is a neophyte when it comes to technology. How many of your representitives even use a computer?
  • My faith in the American judicial system as a counterbalance to overenthusiastic, vote-scrounging lawmakers has just dropped another notch.

    Into the sub-basement?

    The US Constitution must be a really, really good idea if so many people are united against it. Not only the judiciary in general but practically every person with political or religious authority seems to have something against it - and Dublya is both - which is probably the single best reason around for protesting its erosion and demanding legal reform.

  • No... just as an employee at work doesn't have the right to "privacy" at their desk, through their company email or on their company phone, the president doesn't have a right to privacy while he's serving US. Remember, he's under our employment right now, 24 hours a day, for the next 4 years (give or take). He doesn't work for a corporation, he works for us, and we can request information from him. He can't refuse, unless it's on the grounds of national security, and him making fun of a reporter isn't national security, so that's the stuff he doesn't want coming out (any more than it already has).

    Besides which, where's your PGP key? Not in slash's little field set up to hold it. And why should the president feel obligated to encrypt his emails to his friends discussing their last round of golf, or the dirty jokes they heard? As long as he's under our employ, it doesn't matter if they're encrypted or not, so long as he or anyone else is capable of providing the plaintext version...
  • "Whatever happened to the right of the people to be secure in their ... papers..., against unreasonable searches and seizures?"

    IP messages are not transmitted on paper unless you use RFC1149 [landfield.com].

  • I was once asked by a marketing guy in my company to come up with some items for a FAQ he wanted to put on the web.

    Towards the end, I was running out of material, and on the item about performance statistics I put, in parenthesis, (just put in whatever numbers you guys can pull out of your asses).

    The moron just cut and pasted the whole thing to the web page. Two months later, we got a complaint from a VP who read it. Who got in trouble, me? or the moron who didn't bother to proofread, or edit material that was to be posted publicly? I did.
    Since then I've learned to be VERY careful. In fact, someone who has known me for 8 years, recently remarked that I've become very spineless in my emails recently. Well, now y'all know why.
  • Given all of the investigations that have gone on over the past few years, it is probably wise not to leave open any more doors than is needed.

    This is just another symptom of the lack of tolerance that has developed in our society. In this case, it is merely a man coming into the hell hole that is Washington DC, and seeing what garbage goes on, decided to handle it appropriately. Now you may not like it, but it makes sence, given a town full of lawyers.

  • Thanks for the details of Watergate. I never intended to dispute that Nixon was a bad seed. I just happen to believe that Clinton and he are equals with respect to corruption.

    Sorry, but I cannot view Clinton's attempts to cover up his extramarital affair as even being remotely as heinous as what Nixon did. It's like when people on Internet start comparing online censors to Hitler.

    Isn't it amazing that the Democrats attribute so much power to the words of a man they consider to be so stupid?

    Not at all. There are many stupid world leaders and, like it or not, their positions give their words power.

  • Is there such a thing as "executive privalege" that could be used to keep these things private?
    No. They could be prevented from available to public scrutiny due to national security measures, but they would certainly still be read by someone other than the sender and the intended recipient, be it a closed Senate hearing, Independet Counsel, etc.
    Also, does anyone know the basis for the president's private e-mail (say, to his daughters about family matters) being public record? If he wrote them paper letters, would that be public record? Why is e-mail different?
    It doesn't make any difference if the letters are paper or electronic. It doesn't even matter if he's President or John Doe or who its to, all correspondence is discoverable in legal action. It just so happens that the President's correspondence, especially email is an easy target for any investigation. Sounds like he's just being cautious, I don't think he wants his own version of the "Nixon Tapes".
    Would it make a difference if he used a computer owned by him personally instead of by the government, and used and ISP he paid for himself instead of the government's connection?
    In the event of some kind of investigation, they could get those too.
    Also, how do we know he'd be forced to reveal the private key or plaintext, instead of just the ciphertext? Is there legal precedent for this in other cases?
    I have no idea if there is precedent, but I would be pretty confident that failure to turn over the key would become immediate grounds for contempt. As for the long haul, I would also be pretty certain that the Prez would be nailed with obstruction.
  • what a horrible thing it would be if someone like Bork were on the court.

    Yes it would be. Richard Nixon ordered the Attorney-General, Elliot Richardson, to dismiss the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. Richardson refused to do so and resigned. His deputy was then canned for refusing to carry out Nixon's order. So who did fire Cox? The Solicitor-General, your hero, Robert Bork.

    Right about now, you are probably feeling like a complete idiot. Or you are even more of one than I guessed.

  • by pjl5602 (150416) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @12:07AM (#352943) Homepage
    Am I the only one thinking that SOMEBODY -- be it the PGP people, the Free Software Foundation, or Microsoft for that matter -- should figure out a TRULY easy, TRULY fast, TRULY seamless means for the common email user to encrypt a message?

    I'm going to describe shortfalls of PGP, but really, it applies to any infrastructure that's based on a web of trust.

    Using encryption is easy.&nbsp I would argue that with 5 minutes of training, anybody familiar with their email client (assuming it supported hooks to PGP) could encrypt their messages.

    So what?&nbsp That doesn't mean squat.&nbsp Yeah, I can get your PGP key from your user ID but again, that gains me little as I have no way of validating your identity.&nbsp Yeah, PGP has a web of trust, but that's not really realistic.&nbsp So you say, "OK, I guess you need to set up a central registry like the Post Office."&nbsp People are (rightfully) afraid of the abuses of their social in-security number.&nbsp You think they're going to trust their government public/private key pair?&nbsp I'd certainly be skeptical....

    The point is, it's not the technology or the user's intelligence that are the problem.&nbsp It's the lack of a large scale supportable infrastructure that holds PKI back from widespread use.

    Now, I do think that PGP works well with people whose physical identity you or another you trust has verified.&nbsp So realistically I can encrypt all my email to friends and family.&nbsp And that brings us smack dab into the middle of the hassle factor.&nbsp For a user to decrypt their mail they need to enter their passphrase.&nbsp If users need to type it a lot, they're going to make it short and sweet.&nbsp You just lost security.&nbsp But you can keep the passphrase in memory.&nbsp You just lost some more security since a black-hat can possibly look at the memory and get at your passphrase.

    What's the answer?&nbsp I don't know if there is one given that there really isn't (yet) a compelling need to encrypt everything sent via email.

  • But making campaign donaitions calls from your government office phone is illegal hmm.....

    Gore made the phone calls using a Clinton-Gore campaign credit card. The guy was honest and was making sure that the calls weren't paid for by the taxpayers. As I have asked before, was he supposed to duck out to go to a pay phone at a convenience store? What he did was not illegal! That's what none of the Republicans wants to admit. They would have tried to have Mother Theresa investigated if she had declared herself a Democrat.

  • Never mind that Clinton obstructed justice. Never mind that Clinton molested at least two women against their will and raped another. Never mind that Clinton lied under oath.

    I don't mind that he lied under oath about his sexual liasons. If he had lied under oath about something related to his job as President, then I would give a damn. It's not like we are talking about him trading arms for hostages and then pardoning all of his cronies that were involved.

    As to your other right-wing, Rush Limbaugh inspired accusations, I suggest that you reexamine the record of the multi-million dollar Ken Starr mud-slinging fiasco. The result of that was a lot different than what you are claiming.

    who dragged Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas through the mud?

    Clarence Thomas should have been dragged through the mud. He is the stupidest Supreme Court justice to serve in our lifetimes. His behavior around women is very germane to whether he is fit to judge on such "women's" issues as sexual harassment, abortion, etc. Whether Clinton slept around has nothing to do with his fitness for duty as President.

    And FYI, the modern era of dragging public officials through the mud can be traced back to the Democrats doing it to Nixon.

    How can you compare Nixon, who abused the power of the Presidency to subvert the very process of democracy, to Clinton, who, according to a multi-year, multi-million dollar investigation, did nothing worse than have an affair and lie about it? "Dragging through the mud" means finding out embarassing personal items and making them public, not exposing the most blatent series of criminal operations and cover-ups ever orchestrated by a U.S. President.

    Get your facts before looking like an ass and pointing fingers.

    It's you that doesn't have command of the facts, you that now looks like an ass, and you that can kiss my ass.

    Don't blame me. I'm a Libertarian

    Good. I was afraid that your vote would actually count.

    By the way, I am an American and I believe that someone is innocent until proven guilty. If you want to accuse a person of something, either (1)make it something that he was found guilty of in court of law or (2) make it an allegation based on personal knowledge, not the hearsay, unproven claims by third parties.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday March 19, 2001 @08:17PM (#352950) Homepage
    Hey, that's great:

    Something like 14 responses asking "Gee whiz, doesn't the President use encryption?"

    But not one pointing out the fact that, if someone of the dubious mental faculties of George W. Bush can't figure out how to use encryption, then half of America probably can't either.

    Am I the only one thinking that SOMEBODY -- be it the PGP people, the Free Software Foundation, or Microsoft for that matter -- should figure out a TRULY easy, TRULY fast, TRULY seamless means for the common email user to encrypt a message?

    Cuz I've got PGP installed on my Macintosh, and I'm telling you guys -- PGP ain't it.

    --
  • That's ok, I lost interest in our nations capital when it was decided that when you lose an election, it's ok to trump up charges against the President one right after another to try to overturn the will of the people.

  • Call to tech support: Help me, I can't find the "Dubya" key!!
  • by rm -vrf (212851) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:39PM (#352957)
    Er..this isn't about encryption. That would just prevent any middleman from intercepting and reading his emails while they are being sent. It's the fact that the emails he sends thru Government networks become public record, and so people can request them thru the Freedom of Information Act. He'd be required by law to give up his encryption keys.

  • Which is what would happen if he used encryption. Don't you know that crypto turns law abiding citizens into pot-smoking, pipe-bomb-making terrorists? Sheesh. Bush is way smarter than YOU, apparently. =P

    To be serious though, Colonel Klink (response just above mine) has it right on the nail. Though the guy deserves his right to privacy in his private life (a right which I think was stolen from Clinton by the Lewinsky circus), he IS the POTUS, and as such, his communications while acting as such are and should be openly available. The whole purpose of this law is to prevent things like Nixon's 18.5 minute gap from being used to deceive the public. If all our lawmakers started using crypto, we'd suddenly have no clue what they were up to until they did it.

    Cnn reports: "And the Senate has, today, passed a bill striking down the Bill Of Rights. It was unkown to CNN that such a bill was being considered, as it was encrypted heavily and not made available to the public. The ACLU immediately registered a protest, and head ACLU officials are now being held in an undisclosed federal prison. And the Seargent who's holding a gun to my head has just handed me another amazing news break..."

    Be glad our "leaders" are mostly too dumb to use crypto. Oh, and be glad our military isn't that dumb. ;-)

    -Kasreyn
  • I also think that a lot of the elitism is coming from people who believe that wealth and privilege count more in this country than individual worth and effort.

    Clearly Mr. Bush, and Mr. Gore are a perfect example of the "wealth and privilege" deal.

    As I was raised to "believe in democracy", that it's the best form of government, because people are given the opportunity to lead based on their ability to prove to voters their worth. I and many others feel that the system is obviously broken because people of no worth are consistently elected to lead. And in the case of Bush, it's is eminently evident that it's his family name, and privileges and connections that got him where he was today, rather than intelligence.

    Obviously, connections and wealth and influence are good traits for a president to have. But that does not result in a fair system of government for those who are not from a wealthy, politically connected family.

    I think this is the root of #43's perception problem. And it will be unsurmountable, unless #43 does something to prove his actual worth as a human being.
  • No, I *DO* care what my employee, the president of the united states does, on MY time. I pay lots of taxes, he is MY employee, and if he's running around his office, chasing skirts instead of attending to the business of not getting the whole world blown up, or how about, keeping the economy running.

    I can't say that I'm happy about illegally selling arms or some of the bad things that #40 and #41 were accused of doing. I think that these men should be held to VERY high moral and ethical standards. Not because they are personally benefitting by having their names recorded in the history books, or getting million dollar checks for giving speeches or writing books, but because, if they fuck up, a whole lot of people could potentially suffer. As far as I'm concerned, every second of the clock that ticks by from one inaugural speech to the next, that fucker better be doing nothing other than running the country. I don't even believe that the president should be allowed vacations.
    I mean, I've worked sucky jobs where I didn't get to take vacations for years. Many people go decades without taking vacations. I think that if a person wants the job of president, they ought to be prepared to go 4 lousy years without a vacation. I mean, we pay them enough. THey ought to be ready for the awesome responsibility.
  • Ok, I hit the link and read about half of it. Many of the things seem to be nit-picking of someone with a slightly different accent. The old attitude that anyone with a southern accent is stupid and slow of wit.

    A good percentage seem to be quotes from impromtu speakings/shooting from the hip type of responses to questions. Watch CSpan sometime. You'll find a lot of these type statements. They all sound ludicrous when taken out of context.

    The President's method of using parenthetical phrases doesn't seem to sit well with the person making this collection, but I don't find anything silly about them.

    Some of the statements appear quite ludicrous, but out of context I would tend to give him the benefit of the doubt. Were they prepared statements? Or was he distracted by something else while trying to answer several questions at once?

    I'm sorry, but I'm from the southern United States, and I have often dealt with the "we talk better than you" snobbery. If this is the extent of your criteria for considering the man a buffoon, then I must discount your opinion as that of a political opponent who is upset that someone with opposing ideas was selected by the American people through the constitutionally mandated process as President.

  • only criminals use encryption ;)

  • That's where it gets interesting. It would then be a part of the Congressional Record and available to the public. I don't know if there is any method for striking passages before release, but there probably is.

    Actually, there is a means for review. Members of Congress routinely use it to edit the record of debate (Particularly in the Congressional Quarterly). In the Dailies (which come out each day ;) a Congressperson can read a transcript, and then submit revisions. This practice has been limited in recent years, but it still occurs with some frequency.
  • by n3rd (111397) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:04PM (#352971)
    Actually, I feel this goes to show we have a long way to go in the battle to have easy to use, strong encryption for all users.

    If the President doesn't use encryption in his e-mail to friends and family, then Joe User certainly doesn't.

    I can't really offer and constructive suggestions or code, but I hope some of you good people out there will work to make encryption easy to use for everyone.
  • The Republican lead jihad against the "liberals" has torn down almost all the remaining protections (those both legal as well as merely traditional) between public officials and their private lives.
    Yeah, those damn republicans really stuck it to Dick Nixon and his tapes, and Bob Packwood with his diaries, and to Clarence Thomas and....

    Oh, wait.

    Now imagine if that president was instead selling weapons to the sworn enemy of the state?
    Oh, you mean kinda like private citizen Marc Rich did? As long as we're talking about quid pro quo and the presidency...
  • Is it on a disk? What format? Did they print it out? Is it on acid free paper? etc. etc.

    WRT the freedom of information act and the bill of rights protections against self incrimination or unreasonable searches and seizures, the impression I've gotten in the law class I'm taking (in theory business law but the prof is really cool so we end up debating all sorts of legal topics, you gotta love arguing the validity of things like the DMCA in a class situation[1]) is that as a _person_ you have those protections, as an _institution_ you do not. So Bush's love letter to his wife or birthday card to his daughter are not FOIA fair game, but his email _as the incarnation of the institution of the American presidency_ is. (Leaving aside my personal views regarding his _extreme_ lack of aptitude for the office, unfortunately we're stuck with that cromag for the next few years...)

    [1]I'm a computational chem major, but I'm eclectic. eh, you have to have some way to squander your youth, I picked college...


    --
    News for geeks in Austin: www.geekaustin.org [geekaustin.org]
  • I suspect that anything sent from whitehouse.gov using government property should be officially related to government business or else would be waste, fraud and abuse of government property. Thus, all email originating therefrom would be subject to as much scrutiny as any hard copy document produced in the WhiteHouse. If he were to encrypt it, then he could be legally bound to produce the key. My place of business condones only the use of encryption products that provide them a backdoor.

    Nevertheless, W. could still correspond with friends via his ISP:)

    Due to advances in electronics, communications and storage, public officials will probably see another development in the near future: video and audio records of everything that transpires in the Whitehouse or other government installations is not far away. Then, no communications with another human being will be beyond recording. To date, verbal communications has been an effective means of communicating that could not be tied down much by the legal system, independent of whether said verbal communication was used to accomplish good things or bad. Verbal communications are used to do most of governement work at the highest levels. If hushed converstations in the halls of the whitehouse or the legislatures disappear entirely because of fear of monitoring, then it will have a big impact on what gets done.

    I hope that before that point (by which time corporate databases will be rapidly filling up with similar information about the public in the interests of more effective marketing) that commonsense legislation will be passed to regulate the harvesting and sale of what previously was taken for granted to be private information.


    P.S. A recent movie, The Contender, portrays some of the issues involved in how much privacy is due public officials. It's not an easy issue to resolve in a democracy that depends on a well informed public choosing their leaders.

  • by tarzan353 (246515)
    ...obtained a copy of the farewell e-letter to 42 of Bush's friends. there's that number again!
  • If he sent encrypted email, it would look like he had something to hide.

    This is because we do not encrypt all email, and GWB should be concerned about this. This is why he should be using PPS [ajs.com].

    Of course, until I and any volunteers write implementations of the spec, that'll be a little hard ;-)
  • I saw that episode (West Wing Rules) and I had this thought:

    What would happen if a Senator (or CongressCritter) read DeCSS out loud on the floor of the Senate or House? Would it then be a matter of Public Record?
    Please reply if you are a lawyer, and you know about this stuff.

    If its true, we need to snail-mail all those CongressCritters... if even one of them reads DeCSS into the record, we've WON!
  • ...George cannot expect to send private email through government network.

    I'm skeptical- this can't be the sole issue... If it was just the government-owns-the-network problem, I'm sure for any politician at that level, it'd be worth their time to work around that.

    For example, couldn't George pay for his own phone line and simply dialup AOL on his own personal laptop? That's not a government network by any stretch of the imagination.

    Perhaps the issue is that any actions he conducts on governmental premises fall under some legal restrictions (perhaps the Hatch Act that Gore violated but claimed no-controlling-legal-authority under)? Anyone know what's really going on here, legally?

    --LP

  • If the system is being used to ask questions that people don't have a right to know, I don't see a problem with it.

    Not answering isn't an accepted action, it'll result in contempt. Lying is the only reasonable action when you refuse to answer a question.

    I don't the the Monica thing being related to the presidency at all, so Clinton being harassed over it seems like nothing but mud slinging. I don't begrudge him his lies in trying to avoid it.

    Maybe when partisan control can't be used to direct oversight commitees in witch hunts, is the day I won't support lying to them.
  • by MousePotato (124958) on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:06PM (#353000) Homepage Journal
    1. That PGP is pretty easy to use.
    2. The fifth ammendment protects him from having to give out his key(Well IANAL but there are millions of lawayers out there who would love to defend the constitution on behalf of a Presidential defendant).
    And this begs the question: What the fuck is our President doing sending unsecure unencrypted email in the first place?

  • Just because he knows about the constitution doesn't mean he wants it upheld. Secret agendas and all.
  • > If the President doesn't use encryption in his e-mail to friends and family, then Joe User certainly doesn't.

    1) Dubya knows enough about security to know not to send needs-to-be-secure information over insecure networks. (His Dad taught him better than that at his previous gig ;-)

    2) His personal emails, which don't need to be as secure, may or may not be encrypted. FOIA is what we're talking about, however, and it may require (I guess it did require, in the case of the emails mentioned) that - encrypted or not, the keys be turned over.

    3) This isn't about Joe User - it's about Mr. President. Mr. President's emails, like any government employee's, may very well be public property and therefore subject to an FOIA request. This kinda sucks (if you're Mr. President), but it's not inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment.

    As a public servant (leaving politics out of this for a moment), Dubya knew this when he took the job. If his snail-mails are subject to FOIA requests, then his e-mails ought to be similarly subject.

  • by mjh (57755) <mark AT hornclan DOT com> on Monday March 19, 2001 @06:07PM (#353003) Homepage Journal
    W says:
    "My lawyers tell me all correspondence by email is subject to open record requests. Since I do not want my private conversations looked at by those out to embarrass, the only course ofaction is not to correspond in cyberspace. This saddens me. I have enjoyed conversing witheach of you."

    If he really wanted to continue to converse, privately, with his friends why doesn't he just download GPG (or any other encryption program) and start using it? If he does this, would the "open record requests" require him to relinquish the key?

  • If that's the case, why didn't he say so? Instead of the denials and claiming, "I don't recall" etc.

    If anything, Gore lost at least as many votes to Campaign Financing FUD than he did to Nader. (in fact, many of the votes that went to Nader were BECAUSE of the campaign financing FUD).

    So if he didn't do anything wrong, why didn't he stand up and say something? He could have at least pulled an Oliver North. Damn, what Gore DID say and do just made him look like a spineless liar.
  • by artdodge (9053) on Tuesday March 20, 2001 @06:24AM (#353005) Homepage
    Clarence Thomas should have been dragged through the mud. He is the stupidest Supreme Court justice to serve in our lifetimes. His behavior around women is very germane to whether he is fit to judge on such "women's" issues as sexual harassment, abortion, etc. Whether Clinton slept around has nothing to do with his fitness for duty as President.
    What a fascinating argument. "Thomas's behavior toward women makes him unfit as an adjudicator of women's issues, but Clinton's behavior toward women has nothing to do with his moral integrity in advancing legislation dealing with women's issues, overseeing the executive branch of the government which enforces that legislation, overseeing the DOJ which exercises prosecutorial discretion in which abuses and violations of those laws are addressed in the courts..."

    Maybe Thomas should have been dragged through the mud. But fair is fair - you can't pretend that a Supreme Court Justice's private character is a fundamental issue while a president's isn't, or visa-versa.

    By the way, I am an American and I believe that someone is innocent until proven guilty. If you want to accuse a person of something, either (1)make it something that he was found guilty of in court of law or (2) make it an allegation based on personal knowledge, not the hearsay, unproven claims by third parties.
    I don't even know where to begin punching holes in this, especially in the context of the rant that preceeded it. Noone is found guilty in a court of law until after they have been accused, publicly. (Right to face your accusers when you are tried and all that Constitutional mumbo-jumbo.) Our legal system is by its nature accusatory, as are the more drastic political remedies (like impeachment), and most of modern campaigning is in kind ("They'll take away your kid's lunches! They'll leave our borders undefended! They'll take away your granparents' medical care! They'll steal more of your money and pour it into failed social programs!" etc)

    And BTW, what was Thomas convicted of in court that makes him deserve to be "dragged through the mud"? Barring an answer to that, what personal (non-hearsay, etc) experience do you have with The Honorable Justice that validates your stated opinion that "[h]e is the stupidest Supreme Court justice to serve in our lifetimes"? My (extremely limited) personal experience with him has been that he's a very considered, thoughtful, and well-informed man.

  • It breaks down like this: Your private key is a thing (i.e. a set of magnetic particles on a platter somewhere, etc.) The government can seize any *thing* via a search warrant. This also includes any notes, papers, etc. They cannot seize your *thought*. So if you don't write it down (e.g. like a passphrase), they can't get it.
  • Obviously he's not related to Hilary Rosen (head of the RIAA).
  • I thought it was hilarious (the W keys didn't make it out of the building as they were government property). Too bad certain Republicans don't have a sense of humor. Others do, though - you didn't see W himself complaining!
  • Can you honestly say with a straight face that Bill Clinton was not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors?

    I can say that the high crimes he did commit were with the approval of Congress, and were of the same sort perpetrated by Bush the First and by Reagan. Just the usual assualts on basic civil liberties, illegal use of military force, things like that.

    The sex scandal was bullshit, the fundraising hanky-panky was D.C. business-as-usual. None of it even approached the shadow of real high crimes like Iran-Contra and Watergate.

    Is Clinton a scumbag? Of course! But with the possible exception of Carter, every U.S. president since the end of WWII has been morally deranged. Might as well give up and write in into the Constitution: "No person with a moral sense shall be eligible to the office of President."

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • I can understand Junior wanting to avoid scrutiny under the FOIA. But if Presidential email is public record {FOIAble], why isn't paper mail? Is there some sort of special exemption for private correspondence?


    This would make no sense. A letter is legally stronger than email. Not that the law needs to make sense. But Junior cutting himself off makes even less sense. There's more here than we've been told.

  • Hey this topic is flamebait, so don't blame me if as a democrat you don't like my opinion of your president.

    Bush certainly knows about digital signatures and encryption. His poppy was director of the CIA. His fear is that any record of what he does may become a political liability. As Ollie North and Bill Gates found out an email trail can look real bad in court

    I did some security work on a project deployed at the Whitehouse during the days when they still counted the votes in elections. First thing that Clinton did was to put out every press release on the Internet - this was back in 1992. First thing the Bush crew did was to shut the server down. They want to control the flow of information.

    The purpose of FOIA is to make elected officials accountable. Under FOIA every memo that reaches the president's desk is discoverable. PGP does nothing for Bush since if he used it to prevent FOIA discovery he would be facing a second criminal conviction. When the EOP screwed up the archiving process and lost a number of Gore emails the 'liberal press' had a field day. If Bush deliberately prevented his email being read Wolf Blitzer and co would, would, well explain it away to their viewers.

    After having hounded the democrats for eight years it is entirely logical for the GOP to expect the same medicine in return.

    The minute that the GOP loose control of either half of Congress they have a very real threat of trial by endless investigation. The more evidence they allow to be created the greater the liability. As one GOP lawyer told the incomming Clinton administration, never take any notes at meetings.

    In summary it is certainly an understandable political move, if not an acceptable one. Bush is certainly not attempting to have the most accountable Presidency ever.

    Bush may be doing the right thing to insulate himself from scandal. But he is also insulating himself from the administration he is meant to be in control of. I don't know many modern CEOs who insist on being kept out of the decision loop. But that is exactly what not using email means today.

  • By CEO of Alcoa I'm assuming you are referring to the former CEO of Alcoa, Paul O'Neill, who now heads up the Treasury Department, and not Alain Belda, who is the current Chief. Perhaps you could elaborate on why exactly the Secretary of Treasury would "want" California as opposed to any of the other 49 states. Or why Alcoa, the world's largest producer of aluminum, would care about California at all. As far as I know we're newsworthy right now only because our state's energy market is a joke. I'm specualing here, but in my opinion the only way Alcoa could do anything to alleviate this problem would be to cease all operations in California. Certainly they would not encounter regulatory difficulties doing that; Compaq, Intel, GM, and all the rest already did it with nary a peep from Washington. Or, most importantly, how that post got modded up.

    --
  • Before leaving the white house, many childish aides in the last administration removed the "W" keys from the computer keyboards.
  • Ignoring, of course, the fact that the price for a handful of W keys is tiny and that replacement keys were donated.

    actually, the real cost is the loss of productivity while the computers were unusable, if you really want to measure it, which you seem to have indicated that you do.

    It's fairly funny as pranks go, though, so I don't think it's a big deal. Certainly nothing to start foaming at the mouth about on either side.

    Surely this stink was never raised over blessèd Republicans

    Quite a few stinks were raised over the Republicans. It's the nature of politics for the opposition to undermine party in power any way they can (which is more or less what you are trying to do). Every now and then, one of the scandals will "stick" with the public at large. While it seems ugly on its face, it's probably a good thing. The megalomania and egos in Washington (and Ottawa, and London, etc.) are big enough anyway, and this sort of stuff, deserved or not, provides for a steady deflation and erosion of power and probably keeps our democracy safe.

  • While he could use encryption, it seems to me that he would be forced to reveal the encryption key used if someone makes a Freedom of Information Act request for the information. You're allowed to ask for certain public documents under that law, and lawyers claim that his emails fall into that category, so he is required by FOIA to reveal this information to you. In order to avoid that, he has to not send email.

    Encryption is a technical solution, the problem here is social/legal.

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