This Slate article reveals how the Bush Library controversy has become embedded in larger debates over administration policies and allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct. See also in Slate an interesting critique of “George Bush’s favorite historian,” Andrew Roberts.
Every Man for Himself: Bush administration discipline slips further
March 27, 2007
As George Bush’s tenure winds down, he has started thinking about building his presidential library. Somewhere off the Mission Accomplished Atrium he should put a boxing ring. An administration that came into office boasting of exemplary teamwork looks like it’s going to end in a hail of blame-placing, finger-pointing, and backbiting.
And the revelations about the use of private e-mail accounts by government officials, apparently in order to prevent the archiving of these public records as required by the Presidential Records Act, is another brewing scandal. It also raises serious doubts about the historical value of the Bush Library as the ultimate repository for the documentary record of this administration, as touted by its supporters, if a deliberate attempt is being made to conceal the real paper trail. On Wednesday, March 28, 2007, Senators Patrick Leahy and John Conyers sent a joint letter to White House Counsel, Fred Fielding (of Watergate fame).
We urge you to provide all relevant documents without delay. The White House documents to and from the Deptartment of Justice and with third parties, such as Republican state party officials, should be provided to us without delay. You have acknowledged your willingness to provide those to us previously.
In addition, we have become increasingly sensitized over the last several days to the White House staff wearing several “hats” and using Republican National Committee and campaign e-mail addresses. In fact, as Chairman Waxman has recently pointed out, congressional investigations, including this one, “have uncovered evidence that White House Staff have used nongovernmental e-mail accounts to conduct official government business.”
As Chairman Waxman has also pointed out, many exchanges between Jack Abramoff and White House officials were conducted via non-governmental e-mail accounts. Indeed, he quotes exchanges that suggest that Mr. Abramoff and House officials were using the nongovernmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a White House “record” of the communications.
Accordingly, we trust that you will be collecting and producing e-mails and documents from all e-mail accounts, addresses and domains and that you are not artificially limiting your production to the official White House e-mail and document retention system.
Read the entire letter here.