White House Email Horrorshow

The White House started using Lotus Notes about 15 years ago for email. Since a ruling determined that electronic communication needed to be archived, there was an automated system in place to capture, sort, and store all the email to or from the White House and senior executive staff officials.

Early in the GW Bush administration they migrated to Exchange. Not a big deal. Lots of places use it. Even as much as I try to avoid Microsoft products when possible, it’s pretty tough to argue against using Exchange. The problem is, when they migrated email systems, they did not bring along the processes to archive the mail. What they did instead was have people manually go through all the email, sort it, and save it in .pst files. This is not good.

On top of that, the use of outside email was widespread. This is the executive branch of the US government. Office of the President. Commander-in-Chief. During wartime. Shouldn’t those systems be locked down more than anything else in the country? Do I want a computer sitting next to the big, red, blow up the world button to have Hotmail access? Should it be that easy for the people with the highest clearances to transmit documents to the entire world?

This issue will probably be revisited as it is so wrong on so many levels.

More details can be found here http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/bush-lost-e-mails.ars


1 Response to “White House Email Horrorshow”

  1. 1 dtjedi
    May 1, 2008 at 8:55 am

    There are two different issues here. One is of a technical nature and typically you can solve those pretty quickly when you have the resources. It is the white house, so I can assume they have the resources.

    Which brings us to the second issue, which is one of an ethical nature. To all external observation this is an intentional disregard for maintaining posterity and transparency. Given the current administration’s stances in other areas where ethics are involved, I’m not surprised. Nor do I expect it to get resolved before Bush leaves office.

    With the current campaign for the presidency, we should be raising this as an issue of ethical policy for the next president. This type of unethical behavior and how it affects the transparency of the office should be one of the major issues. The fact is that since the current race on the democratic side is one of personality and not policy, I also don’t see this becoming a hot topic. Even when it’s McCain and the democratic nominee and it’s a dirty fight, I doubt this will even be on anyone’s radar.

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