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January 7th, 2009
08:55 AM ET

White House could be crime scene: Obama urged caution

David Gewirtz
Editor-in-Chief of ZATZ Publishing

The crime is an admitted violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act by the Bush administration. Gewirtz contends there is forensic evidence that needs to be gathered before it's lost in the flurry of incoming activity.

The 751 word Open Letter explores the following issues:

* How, in Congressional testimony, Mr. Bush's CIO admitted that the Bush White House misplaced all email correspondence from the period of March 1 through May 23, 2003.

* How this statement indicates the White House has broken two key federal laws: the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act.

* How the Bush White House may actually have "misplaced" as much as 225 days of email from 2003, according to an Office of Administration request for contractors' proposals, which was dated June 20.

* How, when the Obama team enters the White House on January 20, the building is likely to be filled with the droppings and detritus of the previous administration, including old computers.

* How, whether those computers are on the desks the team is about to inhabit, in closets, stacked in some basement somewhere, or even out by the dumpsters, those computers are evidence in a federal crime.

* How, any of the computers - and this also includes computer parts, like hard drives, as well as various other media, like flash and thumb drives - any of those computers could contain traces of those missing messages.

According to Gewirtz, "Enthusiastic incoming officials may just want to get to work and those computers are likely to be treated like old office equipment. But what must happen is this: each computer the team finds in the White House and the EOB must be treated as evidence. Each machine must be cataloged and then removed for forensic examination.

Gewirtz continues, "Under no circumstances should anyone on the incoming team boot up any of those machines or use them.

"This is critically important and we're going to have only one shot," he continues. "If anyone on the incoming team uses those machines, they might overwrite deleted files that could otherwise be recovered. They could possibly cover the few remaining tracks that might be available, the few possible clues to a period of real upheaval in our history."

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Heather,ca

    Ah remember the good old days of Nixon tapes. With the comforts of the computer into the White House many forget that the White House is a living museum and a government building and the executive branch is a institution. Every day is a day of history making and record keeping. There is no doubt a paper record is a must for the archives. I dont care who you are Dem or Rep,its the law its part of the institution. Everyone who works there is a part of making history and the archives have the responsibility under law to keep those records.

    January 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    By this time – 5 years later – those emails are long gone, probably written over many months ago. The best way though to get the old computers without chancing someone turning the old ones on and risk losing more data is to have someone go in and gather them up and take them to where they can be analyzed and leave brand new computers for the new administration coming in.

    January 7, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  3. Cindy

    What makes anyone think that this will go anywhere at all? I mean congress chose not to even attempt to impeach Bush or try to get Cheney along with others for any crimes that they may have done?

    Honestly this report just seems like a last swift kick to an administration that is down and out and about to leave. They won't take it any further than this I bet.

    Cindy...Ga.

    January 7, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  4. S Callahan

    Wow , this is going to be interesting....nearly a year worth of emails missing....how is that possible? Maybe the laws should change to include a paper a copy for storage with each email sent.,,,I mean , this is the Presidents Office and every professional interaction (whether verbal through voice or equipement ) should be preserved.

    January 7, 2009 at 9:04 am |