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Rep. Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has asked several federal agencies to step up their efforts to save e-mails they send to, or receive from, White House officials through nongovernmental e-mail accounts.
The Committee’s request is a response to a recent announcement by the Office of the White House Counsel and the Republican National Committee (RNC) that the RNC may have destroyed a large quantity of White House e-mails, beginning as early as 2001.
In light of the speculation surrounding the U.S. Attorney firings, it is mind-numbing to think about the sheer volume of erased messages providing potentially valuable information related to this and other such events during the Bush administration.
And what about the RNC’s policy to allow White House officials to delete their own e-mails from the RNC server? Each official would probably have a different idea of what constituted an important public record and what constituted spam or simply e-mail that he or she didn’t want to become public knowledge. Such arbitrary handling of public records is not only suspect during the current scandal, but it also goes against Americans’ “right to know” about their government’s activities, whether altruistic or detrimental.