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Living in a no e-mail world

So we discovered last year that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff doesn't use e-mail.

Well, apparently he is not alone. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez apparently doesn't either. And, according to the NRP program On the Media, a media critique program, "he's not the only Cabinet official. Donald Rumsfeld claimed not to use it. Ditto for Condoleezza Rice and Michael Chertoff. In fact, the President himself told CNBC last year that he didn't touch the stuff.

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: I tend not to email – or not only tend not to email -I don't email, because of the different record requests that could happen to a president. I don't want to receive emails, 'cause, you know, there's no telling what somebody would e-mail me - and it would show up as a, you know, a part some kind of a story. And I wouldn't be able to say, well, I didn't read the email. But I sent it to your address. How can you say you didn't? So, in other words, I'm very cautious about e mailing.

And, ABC News.com's blog, The Blotter, reports that Al Qaeda top leader won't use the Internet or phones.

Wary of Western intelligence tehnologies, bin Laden's deputy Ayman al Zawahri has not used a telephone or accessed the Internet for four years, according to a report in today's Asharq al Awsat, a London-based Arabic-language daily.

But, as we discovered at the Doan hearing, many people at the White House do use e-mail -- just not official e-mail. (More here.)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington -- or CREW -- has raised questions about whether the White House is following the Presidential Records Act. Crew has also "sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of Administration seeking White House record-keeping policies and guidance for presidential and federal records dating from January 1, 2001, to the present."

On the Media spoke to CREW's Melanie Sloan about the issue. They also spoke to Anna Nelson, a presidential historian at American University. Back in the '70s, she worked on a governmental commission that helped draft the Presidential Records Act, which requires presidents to preserve their documents as records.

During the On the Media program, they also discussed Presidential Executive Order 13233, which limits access to the records of former United States Presidents. Needless to say, many organizations have grave concerns about that executive order. There are links on Wikipedia.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Apr 07, 2007 at 12:16 PM

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