"We are above the law" -- Bush Administration (once again) - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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"We are above the law" -- Bush Administration (once again)

Justice Dept.: White House Office Exempt From FOIA

WASHINGTON — Opening a new front in the Bush administration's battle to keep its records confidential, the Justice Department is contending that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The department's argument is in response to a lawsuit trying to force the office to disclose what it knows about the disappearance of White House e-mails.

The Office of Administration provides administrative services, including information technology support, to the Executive Office of the President. Most of the White House is not subject to the FOIA, but certain components within it handle FOIA requests. Last year, the Office of Administration processed 65 FOIA requests.

However, the Justice Department maintained in court papers filed Tuesday that the Office of Administration has no substantial authority independent of President Bush and therefore is not subject to the FOIA's disclosure requirements.

Regarding the Bush administration's conduct, "this behavior is perfectly consistent with the way they have handled freedom of information issues over the past six years," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "When they don't want to comply with the law, they just shamelessly argue they are not subject to the law. It's arrogant and disrespectful to citizens."

In its filing in U.S. District Court, the Justice Department said, "to be sure, OA currently has regulations implementing FOIA and has not taken the position" previously that it is exempt from the Freedom Of Information Act. To justify a change, the court papers rely on a court ruling in the 1990s that the National Security Council was not subject to FOIA. Previously, the NSC had handled FOIA requests.

The office of administration has prepared estimates that there are at least 5 million missing White House e-mails between March 2003 and October 2005, according to the lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private advocacy group. The White House has said it is aware that some e-mails may not have been automatically archived on a computer server for the Executive Office of the President. The e-mails, the White House has said, may be saved on backup tapes.

"The Office of Administration is looking into whether there are e- mails not automatically archived; and once we determine whether or not there is a problem, we'll take the necessary steps to address it," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

The first indication of a problem came in early 2006 when special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald raised the possibility that records sought in the CIA leak investigation involving the outing of Valerie Plame could be missing because of an email archiving problem at the White House.

The issue came into focus early this year amid the uproar over the firing of U.S. attorneys. It turned out that aides to Mr. Bush improperly used Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts for official business and that an undetermined number of e-mails had been lost in the process.

The Justice Department Web site, which lists all FOIA contacts inside the government, identifies seven units inside the Executive Office of the President as responding to FOIA requests, including the Office of Administration.

The Office of Administration "has certainly acted like an agency in the past," said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel to the National Security Archive, a private group advocating public disclosure of government secrets.

Ms. Fuchs's organization filed a request in February 2006 after Mr. Fitzgerald disclosed that emails might be missing. When the Office of Administration finally denied the private group's request in June of this year, the office said it was not an "agency" as defined by the Freedom of Information Act and was therefore not subject to the law's requirements.

The administration has been resisting disclosure of information on an array of fronts.

In September 2006, Vice President Cheney's lawyer instructed the Secret Service that it "shall not retain any copy" of material identifying visitors to the vice president's official residence. The lawyer, Shannen Coffin, wrote the letter as the Washington Post sought copies of Mr. Cheney's visitors.

The letter regarding the vice president's residence was in addition to an agreement quietly signed between the White House and the Secret Service when questions were raised about visits to the executive compound by convicted influence peddler Jack Abramoff.

That agreement, which didn't surface publicly until late last year, said White House entry and exit logs were presidential records not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the agreement was signed in May 2006, a number of private groups and news organizations had filed FOIA requests with the Secret Service in an effort to identify how many times Abramoff or members of his lobbying team visited the White House.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 05:57 PM
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Even the most basic I/T function backs up the system nightly. Whether or not the emails are archived properly, they ought to be stored in the nightly backup for the dates in question. Guess they didn't think of that.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:19 PM
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it soo complicated that its will colapse under its own weight. Why cant it be a free world like Saudi?? [sarcastic]

Fuel economy!! whats that??
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:32 PM
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Even the most basic I/T function backs up the system nightly. Whether or not the emails are archived properly, they ought to be stored in the nightly backup for the dates in question. Guess they didn't think of that.
Not if you erase them. Jim
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:43 PM
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"We are above the law"

Who said the above quote that "we are above the law?" What law has been broken? What have the courts said about this? Pffft!...another leftie hope sadly down the drain.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:49 PM
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Fact is, they are above the law, in a way.

The President of the US of A can do quite a few things that (temporarily) puts him and his office above the law if it is a matter of national security.

Constitution gives him this right.

But hiding e-mails..oh my dear God, e-mails are worse than anything and they CANNOT actually be erased forever, it is the worst possible way of communications in terms of confidentiality, any IT graduate ( I suppose) knows it..
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 07:50 PM
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Not if you erase them. Jim
Jim, you CAN NOT erase them, period.

You can remove them from your mailbox and then hope time will take care of the rest.

But that's about it.

Any second grader can find them if he really wants to.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 08:50 PM
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"We are above the law"

Who said the above quote that "we are above the law?" What law has been broken? What have the courts said about this? Pffft!...another leftie hope sadly down the drain.
Presidential Records Act of 1978
Hatch Act
Freedom of Information Act
Fourth Amendment Violations

And we won't even start on executive privilege issues in the court system now or Presidential Signing Statement overreach which is somewhat subjective.

As for what the courts have said? They have struck down elements of wiretap excess and the courts are in process on FOIA, other Fourth Amendment issues while Congress is investigating Hatch Act and Presidential Records Act Violations.

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Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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My personal favorite is still the assertion by Cheney that his office is not a part of the executive branch (except when he is claiming executive privilege, of course).

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 08-23-2007, 08:56 PM
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tons of free utilities can recover deleted data unless it was erased by MIL standards.

Fuel economy!! whats that??
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