No Comment — January 22, 2008, 8:26 am

The Emails that Dick Cheney Deleted

Late last week, right after official White House spokesmen made a series of either evasive or completely false statements about the mysterious case of the vanishing, then reappearing, then perhaps no really vanished White House emails, Henry Waxman and his Oversight Committee announced some of the conclusions they had reached. Dan Eggen and Elizabeth Williamson published an account of it on Friday in the Washington Post:

The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday by a congressional Democrat.
The 2005 study — whose credibility the White House attacked this week — identified 473 separate days in which no electronic messages were stored for one or more White House offices, said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.).

Waxman said he decided to release the summary after White House spokesman Tony Fratto said yesterday that there is “no evidence” that any White House e-mails from those years are missing. Fratto’s assertion “seems to be an unsubstantiated statement that has no relation to the facts they have shared with us,” Waxman said. The competing claims were the latest salvos in an escalating dispute over whether the Bush administration has complied with long-standing statutory requirements to preserve official White House records — including those reflecting potentially sensitive policy discussions — for history and in case of any future legal demands.

Waxman said he is seeking testimony on the issue at a hearing next month from White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, National Archivist Allen Weinstein and Alan R. Swendiman, the politically appointed director of the Office of Administration, which produced the 2005 study at issue.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has now posted a series of studies to help us zero in on just what’s missing. It will come as no surprise to most that the big offender is the man at the center of the most virulent scandals, and the missing email traffic relates just to those dates in which a federal prosecutor would have the most interest. Vice President Dick Cheney’s office destroyed its emails, in violation of the requirements of the federal records act and potentially criminal law, for the following days:

September 12, 2003: The day on which the headlines in the New York Times read “federal appeals court in Washington yesterday rejected the Bush administration’s effort to avoid releasing documents about Vice President Cheney Energy Task Force.”

October 1, 2003: The day on which the Solicitor General argued to the Supreme Court that Vice President Cheney was entitled to keep all the details concerning his meetings with oil executives and their influence in his formulation of national energy policy confidential, including the names of the participants.

October 2, 2003: The day on which senior Congressional Republicans began a rewrite of key energy legislation behind closed doors and without involvement of Democrats—but potentially with the involvement of Vice President Cheney and oil executives involved in his secret energy task force.

October 3, 2003: The Senate approved a requirement that all future contracts to rebuild Iraq be granted on an open and competitive basis after airing open criticism on the closed and controversial process that resulted in multi-billion dollar noncompetitive contract awards to subsidiaries of Halliburton, the company which Vice President Cheney headed before he assumed office, and from which, under a deferred compensation agreement, he continues to receive more compensation than he receives from the Treasury for his services as vice president.

October 5, 2003: Publication of the findings of a task force studying the development of the Iraqi oil industry and its potential for funding the costs of the occupation of Iraq.

January 29, 2004: David A. Kay, the former chief American weapons inspector in Iraq, called for an independent inquiry into pre-war intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs as skepticism about the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD grows.

January 30, 2004: President Bush opposes an independent investigation of intelligence failures surrounding Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction stockpiles despite increasing demands for one by some U.S. lawmakers.

January 31, 2004: Press reports focus on building speculation that an independent commission will be created to look into the White House’s basis for claims that Iraq had WMDs, accusations which were consistently led by Vice President Cheney.

February 15, 2005: Citing the threat exemplified by 9/11, President Bush urges Congress to re-authorize the Patriot Act.

February 16, 2005: An appeals court orders that two reporters who have refused to testify about their conversations with confidential sources regarding the leak that exposed the identification of CIA agent Valerie Plame should be held in contempt. It would later be revealed that both had conversations with members of Vice President Cheney’s staff.

May 23, 2005: Calls mount for the resignation of Tom Delay pending the outcome of an investigation into ethical violations. The Congressional and criminal investigation into Jack Abramoff widens to include long-time associate and fellow architect of the Republican takeover of the capital, Grover Norquist. The White House continues to obstruct efforts to identify who Abramoff saw in his hundreds of visits to the White House.

The missing Cheney emails fit a pattern that suggests intentional rather than accidental destruction. They all occur on days on which, considering contemporaneous press reports, the Vice President or his staff members were in the news and would likely have been communicating on the subjects relating to the press coverage. The most persistent themes are the outing of Valerie Plame and Cheney’s secret dealings with a group of oil and gas executives who were directly influencing national energy policy. The Empty Wheel has some excellent analysis of these points.

I keep wondering: have they checked that man-sized safe in Cheney’s office? Maybe he kept some copies there.

And in the meantime, Blimp TV offers a promotional videotape for the administration’s proposed new petroleum-based coinage.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2017

Document of Barbarism

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Destroyer of Worlds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Crossing Guards

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I am Here Only for Working”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dear Rose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Year of The Frog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Destroyer of Worlds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
Article
Crossing Guards·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
“I am Here Only for Working”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
Article
The Year of The Frog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
Article
Dead Ball Situation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Average number of complaints of excessive force lodged each day against police in the three largest U.S. cities:

14

The naming of boys after their fathers increased after 9/11 in U.S states with a pronounced honor culture

A jury in Arizona heard closing arguments in the trial of a Mesa police officer charged with the murder of Daniel Shaver, a twenty-six-year-old traveling pest exterminator who was staying at a La Quinta Inn when he was shot and killed by a response team after guests in a hot tub outside his window mistook for a rifle the pellet gun he’d used to eradicate birds from a local Walmart and reported him to the hotel staff.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today