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22 Million Missing Bush White House Emails Found 326

Posted by kdawson
from the back-from-the-shredders dept.
ctmurray writes "Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush, and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days' worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that had filed a lawsuit — which has now been dropped — over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record-keeping system. Earlier we discussed the Obama White House's opposition to the lawsuit that led to this discovery." The related links reflect our discussions about the missing emails over two years.
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22 Million Missing Bush White House Emails Found

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  • Wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitHive (578094) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:07PM (#30452188) Homepage

    Are we to understand that it was the people in Bush's white house that failed, and not "the gubbermint"? Nonsense and tosh! If people are the root cause of government's failures then the party of "government sucks" has some mirror-gazing to do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wizardforce (1005805)

      Oh I wouldn't be so quick to defend the democrats either. Most of congress was right there with Bush on a number of controversial issues up to and including when the democrats had control. Both parties are guilty as frak and you'd have to be extraordinarily naive to believe that that kind of corruption and failure will be limited to Bush and friends.

      • by BitHive (578094)

        Who's defending the Democrats? I'm challenging the notion that "government" is more prone to corruption and incompetence than "people" in general..

        • The government is made up of people in a very high position of power. There's no reason to believe that they're any less corruptible than anyone else. The abuses of power continue despite Bush's administration being replaced. The government as a whole did fail. It wasn't something that was solely Bush's doing; it was and continues to be systemic.

        • by khallow (566160)

          I'm challenging the notion that "government" is more prone to corruption and incompetence than "people" in general..

          The difference between government and ordinary people? Opportunity. Back to you.

          • by BitHive (578094)

            Sure, but that applies just as well to rapists, murderers, and investment bankers.

            • by khallow (566160)

              Sure, but that applies just as well to rapists, murderers, and investment bankers.

              So what? In case you haven't noticed, the government bashers have a ready solution for this problem. Cut the size of government and its power and you cut the opportunity for mischief and mayhem. It doesn't matter if government is made of ordinary people or people who have a magic susceptibility to corruption. The solution works in both cases.

              Rather than debate some dubious position not held by most people and irrelevant even in the cases where it is believed, in other words a strawman argument, how about

              • Re:Wait (Score:5, Insightful)

                by wchin (6284) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:11PM (#30453536)

                Cut the size of government and its power and you cut the opportunity for mischief and mayhem.

                If only it were that simple. If the functions that a particular government organization is performing are cut and then are merely transferred to private enterprise, then the opportunity for mischief and mayhem remain, at best, the same. In addition, private enterprise is by many metrics less transparent, less accountable, and more profit driven than government. If that function was for the public good, then going private enterprise means less accountability and more mischief and mayhem... but at least with less transparency, you and I might know less about it.

                I am not advocating bigger government or smaller government. In the end, there are no easy solutions which makes public policy and the business of government very boring and unsuited to 30 second soundbites. Our system is still very flawed and the way our politicians play the game these days just makes it worse. But of course, it is the people that lets this happen and the people in the end have to decide as collective to fix it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      Are we to understand that it was the people in Bush's white house that failed, and not "the gubbermint"? Nonsense and tosh!

      Clinton's Administration didn't seem to have a problem with archiving e-mails.
      I imagine that if Obama's Administration was having problems, we'd know about it by now.
      So with that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and say that yes, it was the people in Bush's white house that failed.

    • I cannot wait for the leaks, figure we can have yet another year of "see, it was Bush's fault and here is the email to prove it, not that we leaked it"

      Considering that every administration has problem with records perhaps it needs to be outsourced.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At least they know what that lump in the carpet was.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:13PM (#30452232) Journal
    From: Dick Cheney
    We need to destroy freedom to save it. I want to track everything. I want to track every keystroke on every computer ever. We will all feel safer when ther eis no safety from our snooping.

    From: George W. Bush
    I think my mind is a terrible fool thing again, hey what was that song by the Who?

    From: ATT
    Dear Mr President - it is all set up. Just pick up your phone reciever and press STAR 6 6 6. This will allow you to instantly listen to conversations by REAL LIVE TERRORISTS. It might SOUND like someone ordering pizza, but really, THEY ARE ORDERING OUR DESTRUCTION! Ask Cheney - he'll tell ya.

  • Standard IT issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:15PM (#30452246)
    "The liberal groups CREW and National Security Archive litigate for sport, distort the facts and have consistently tried to create a spooky conspiracy out of standard IT issues" - Former Bush White House spokesman Scott Stanzel

    Yeah, those stupid liberal groups are just out to hodgepodge the truth again. All we did was violate 2 federal laws by not keeping records of our communications, and had insanely incompetent I.T. staff at this, the richest and most powerful country in the world. What a bunch of baloney. Just an honest mistake. Tens of millions of e-mails, big whoop. Wanna fight about it?
    • by amiga3D (567632)
      It's not beyond belief that the e-mails were mislabeled when they were archived. That kind of thing happens often enough in more than one business....civil service being what it is I think it highly likely it actually happened the way they say. If Bush and company really wanted the e-mails gone I doubt they would have ever turned up again. It's far too easy to dispose of data...hell....it's difficult to keep it.
    • by Lord Kano (13027)

      Yeah, those stupid liberal groups are just out to hodgepodge the truth again. All we did was violate 2 federal laws by not keeping records of our communications, and had insanely incompetent I.T. staff at this, the richest and most powerful country in the world. What a bunch of baloney. Just an honest mistake. Tens of millions of e-mails, big whoop. Wanna fight about it?

      If this wasn't purely about politics, where were their fucking lawsuits when the Clinton-Gore administration lost emails [judicialwatch.org]?

      LK

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zeroduck (691015)

        If this wasn't purely about politics, where were their fucking lawsuits when the Clinton-Gore administration lost emails?

        At least according to their Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org], they were founded in 2003.

        I certainly hope they don't just fold because another party is in charge now. It seems like they've done good work so far, hopefully they'll watch the Obama administration as they did the Bush administration.

  • by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:22PM (#30452308)

    It's hard to believe that the former Bush Administration edited 22 million emails.

    That would mean at least 7,500 emails per day including weekends and holidays; and at least 5 emails per minute.

    Now, just tell me who in Bush's administration was spewing such an amount of email.

    • Do you assume it's one person? What if it was 10 people? What if it was 100? What if it was 1000?

      If you work a 40-hour work week, there are 2080 hours per year when you work. Over 8 years, one person working a full-time job with no overtime works 16,640 hours. If you've got 100 people working full-time for 8 years, that equates to 13 emails per hour per person. Now imagine if they work 60 hour weeks, or 80 hour weeks. 5-10 emails per hour doesn't seem all that outlandish when you're helping run a cou

    • Just think of how many people would be considered to be part of the Bush administration and multiply that by the number of emails per day and any duplicates and it becomes fairly easy to see how this many emails could be sent.

    • by MTO_B. (814477)
      I'd guess incoming email also counts, so that figure even looks low to me when I personally might be getting half a million spam messages per day. I guess at least they did have some spam filter or the number would be much higher.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      It's hard to believe that the former Bush Administration edited 22 million emails.

      That would mean at least 7,500 emails per day including weekends and holidays; and at least 5 emails per minute.

      Now, just tell me who in Bush's administration was spewing such an amount of email.

      There are approx. 1,700 White House staff. This is not counting OEOB staff that works across the street or other Executive branch personnel that most likely would have there email grouped with the White House archives.

      If y

      • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:00PM (#30452682)

        That happens when you change from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.

        It is amazing that this many were recoverable at all.

        Perhaps someone in IT considered the possibility that the
        migration to Exchange would fail, and kept feeding all of the
        e-mails to another set of servers for, you know, safekeeping.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jbengt (874751)
          If I had mod points, I'd mod you up.
          I remember reading something about a Bush official talking about how terrible and obsolete the old Lotus system was and how they had modernized the system by going Outlook and Exchange. (ouch)
          On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine that these particular "mislabeled" emails were lost for other reasons, inadvertant or otherwise.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I find it hard to believe you spent more time typing out that post than the amount of time it would have taken to think up the answer on your own. And yet, here we are.

  • Options :-

    1 - They were down the back of the Oval Office sofa the whole time.

    2 - They were hidden in some storage area, possibly the fifty-first area, which of course, doesn't exist in our universe for large percentages of the time.

    3 - They were stored under the water-boarding rig at Gitmo, and they had to wait for them all to dry out.

    I mean, really, is it any wonder that conspiracy theories are born, when a simple archive of data can mysteriously "disappear" and then even more mysteriously "reappear" after

    • by nog_lorp (896553)

      Makes me curious what happened to those tapes in the meantime...
      Maybe there is a gap or two a la the watergate tapes.

    • by kbob88 (951258)

      No, no. They were uploaded to AT&T's 3G network (sort of an online backup, y'know), and it took all year to download them again via an iPhone!

  • Why doesn't the government try and make some money off of this? I mean, they could sell all the White House emails to Google -- $1/email -- and then google could set up a search engine for them. Something like, whitehouseemails.google.com [google.com], and we can search through them? Of course, they'd have to go through a security screen first, but still, I bet all the pundits on the right AND the left would go nuts over having access to something like this? =)
  • by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:42PM (#30452514)
    The tapes were all turned over to the National Archives, the existence of them has been known for over two years. It was just a matter of sorting through the sixty thousand or so to find the backups mentioned in the article. It doesn't appear any attempt was ever made to hide or destroy anything, just sloppy record-keeping. Will be interesting to see if anything significant is found, but I predict the conspiracy theorists are going to be very disappointed.
    • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:33PM (#30452940) Homepage Journal

      Conspiracy theorists are NEVER disappointed. If they find the evidence, that is proof of the conspiracy. If they find NO evidence, that is proof that the conspiracy runs even deeper than suspected.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shambalagoon (714768)
        I agree that people like that live in a troubling tautology. But there's another thing at work here, and probably the most important and successful conspiracy working today - and that is the conspiracy to discredit conspiracy theorists. The popular opinion today is that conspiracy theorists are nutters, and that's a real boon to anyone involved in a conspiracy. If they're being investigated, there's already a prejudice to dismiss the investigator as crazy. How wonderfully useful.

        A conspiracy is when two o
  • The thing is that it's not all of them. I would guess the emails people really want to see won't be found.
  • by NaCh0 (6124) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @07:53PM (#30452626)
    The emails were found in Sandy Berger's underpants [cnn.com].
  • "...two groups that had filed a lawsuit — which has now been dropped — over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record-keeping system.

    what exactly is the fucking point over a lawsuit to prove that one of the most secretive components of our Government actually saved data that is very well likely to be CLASSIFIED to begin with? Did these groups or the lawyers actually think they were going to be allowed to see the "hard evidence" of this? Give me a fucking break.

    Regardless of how you may feel about Bush and the job that Administration did, this is an utterly pointless lawsuit that reeks of bashing one(of many) "rough" Administrations. N

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhxBlue (562201)

      what exactly is the fucking point over a lawsuit to prove that one of the most secretive components of our Government actually saved data that is very well likely to be CLASSIFIED to begin with? Did these groups or the lawyers actually think they were going to be allowed to see the "hard evidence" of this? Give me a fucking break.

      Your post, sir/ma'am, is full of fail.

      If we were talking about e-mails on a classified network, then the data would be gone. The process for cleaning a hard drive of classified information is to randomly overwrite the HDD with random bits no fewer than five times ... and then degauss the son of a bitch.

      Now, if we were talking about classified information on an unclassified system, that's practically a cyber-oil spill, and I imagine the press would have been all over it.

      So, no. We're talking about informatio

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by geekmux (1040042)

        what exactly is the fucking point over a lawsuit to prove that one of the most secretive components of our Government actually saved data that is very well likely to be CLASSIFIED to begin with? Did these groups or the lawyers actually think they were going to be allowed to see the "hard evidence" of this? Give me a fucking break.

        Your post, sir/ma'am, is full of fail.

        If we were talking about e-mails on a classified network, then the data would be gone. The process for cleaning a hard drive of classified information is to randomly overwrite the HDD with random bits no fewer than five times ... and then degauss the son of a bitch.

        Now, if we were talking about classified information on an unclassified system, that's practically a cyber-oil spill, and I imagine the press would have been all over it.

        So, no. We're talking about information that's maybe For Official Use Only or Law Enforcement Sensitive. And the more of it the American public gets to see, the better.

        Actually, the latest procedures do not allow for formatting and degaussing anymore, it must be destroyed. Furthermore, I was also referring to FOUO classified levels as well, which it is very well likely that we will not be privy to for another couple of decades, which by then, another 2 or 3 Administrations from now will make the Bush era look golden by comparison...IF our economy and the dollar last that long.

  • by modemboy (233342) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:12PM (#30452780)

    I knew this was coming when I first heard about the White House scrapping their previous GroupWise based email archiving system, as they were switching to Exchange, and deciding to roll their own archiving system.
    Thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley, email archiving is big business now and you can buy enterprise ready solution from the likes of EMC.
    Instead they decided to have a private contractor roll a custom system, spent a couple hundred million and 2 years, and then scrapped it for not working right (scrapped by the White House CIO).
    In the end they implemented an EMC solution, right before Bush left office.
    They can pull the wool over non technical peoples eyes, but I have no doubt they purposely FUBAR'ed this, there was no reason not to go with an industry standard solution from the get go unless they were up to no good.
    Supporting facts: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20080417/chron.htm [gwu.edu]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by feepness (543479)

      They can pull the wool over non technical peoples eyes, but I have no doubt they purposely FUBAR'ed this, there was no reason not to go with an industry standard solution from the get go unless they were up to no good.

      You ever worked with a government contractor, or even a huge corporation?

      I'm sure the OTS solution was unacceptable because it wasn't using legacy 3.5" single sided floppies formatted for 937.73K each running on a CP/M terminal accessible by thirteen different departments in nine different ways each by thirty-five untrained secretaries with a five second response time that of course would never be used by any of them. And also the servers had to be the proper shade of green.

      The government has zero in

  • by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @08:34PM (#30452946)
    Just wonderin...
    • by McFly777 (23881)

      Actually, with some of the data retention rules caused by SOX, etc. I have often wondered how much storing the volume of spam that must be received by a corporate mailserver is costing the economy. Unless there is some loophole that allows "spam" that is presumedly filterend and never delivered to not be archived.

      • I seriously would not be surprised if the vast majority of these emails were stuff like "hey, wanna go to arby's/mcdonalds/taco bell for lunch", "incre4se y0ur manh00d", or "Dear sir, I am the prime minister of Nigeria".

        Including them does allow inflating the numbers though, 22 million missing emails sounds ominous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DarthVain (724186)

      With the amount of people Bush screwed I would have to say all of 'em!

      Badda Boom Ding... I will be here all week, try the veal!

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday December 15, 2009 @10:21PM (#30453584)
    We also know that the Bush administration purposefully pushed conversations out to private email accounts to hide what they were up to. We have email messages where correspondents say to take conversations off the record.

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