The White House and Illegal E-mail

I just read a flurry of accounts describing the many ways the Bush Administration has repeatedly violated the Presidential Records Act.

There’s an excellent segment explaining why this act requires White House officials to communicate via their official e-mail addresses and how much of the activity behind the Gonzales / AG firings scandal took place on RNC servers, where the data transmitted could be encrypted, deleted, and stay out of the public eye. You can click here and listen to the segement on this from this weekend’s On the Media:

Additionally, we now know that the White House has added five years of delay into the process of releasing presidential records (since 2001) if for nothing else than to cover their asses.

Further investigation of this issue points to conspiratorial — but heavily documented — accusations that Karl Rove is the kingpin of covert (and illegal) e-mail communications in concert with a Republicans-trusted server farm based in Tennessee.

UPDATE: Coptix is now taking credit for manufacturing the digitally altered photo referred to below.

This post at CorrenteWire explains best how a recent photo of Rove with a Coptix folder unravels into a long paper trail of activity involving the nameserver gwb43.com and Rove (he privatized his e-mail there). This method helps him, and other White House staffers, like his ex-assistant Susan Ralston, feel confident that they will not be held liable as they can destroy any evidence that might lead to a subpoena. But, alas, might the circumvention of white house communication policies alone be enough to serve a subpoena. Furthermore, the same company, Coptix, also SmartTech, is said to have been involved with filtering election results through their servers.

OK, now — I know it’s April Fool’s Day and this sounds incredibly tin-foiled-hatty as I’ve tried to relay it, but listen to the short radio piece and read the Corrente piece (and comments)…. Of course, this isn’t the first (or last) time BushCo will be caught breaking laws, but…

Finally, in another careless and potentially fatal blow (the Department of Homeland Security seems to be able to do whatever it wants):

“At an ICANN meeting in Lisbon, the US Department of Homeland Security made it clear that it has requested the master key for the DNS root zone. The key will play an important role in the new DNSSec security extension, because it will make spoofing IP-addresses impossible. By forcing the IANA to hand out a copy of the master key, the US government will be the only institution that is able to spoof IP addresses and be able to break into computers connected to the Internet without much effort. There’s a further complication, of course, because even ‘if the IANA retains the key … the US government still reserves the right to oversee ICANN/IANA. If the keys are then handed over to ICANN/IANA, there would be even less of an incentive [for the U.S.] to give up this role as a monitor. As a result, the DHS’s demands will probably only heat up the debate about US dominance of the control of Internet resources.'”

read the article DHS Wants Master Key for DNS (via slashdot).

‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ at Supreme Court

It looks like free speech may win out after all. Just brilliant how such a ridiculous example went all the way to SCotUS and will now, in a sense, become a banner case (sorry, had to) for free speech.

From the Reuters article:

In its first major student free-speech rights case in almost 20 years, U.S. Supreme Court justices struggled on Monday with how far schools can go in censoring students.

In a case involving a Juneau, Alaska, high school student suspended for unfurling a banner that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus,” several justices seemed wary about giving a principal too much authority at the expense of the student’s right to express his views.

“It’s political speech, it seems to me. I don’t see what it disrupts,” a skeptical Justice David Souter said.

“And no one was smoking pot in that crowd,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, referring to the group of students standing near the banner as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by in January 2002.

Read the whole article.

Further insight on the case here, here and here.

Perez Hilton Was Scheduled to Speak at Annenberg?

perez hilton with pink hairI’m befuddled to learn that a March 28 lunchtime discussion at USC Annenberg with Perez Hilton (aka Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr.) was not canceled by the school, but by Hilton himself.

It’s not mandatory to hold one’s blogging standards up to the those embedded in the rigid ethics taught at a Journalism and Communication school, but inviting someone so painfully lacking in journalistic integrity to speak as a role model to an admiring student body?

I’m pretty sure Annenberg didn’t invite Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass after they were unceremoniously canned for their breaches of journalistic integrity.

The students who would have filled Room 207 at Annenberg for this event may not have been aware that Hilton is the defendant in an ongoing $7.6M copyright infringement lawsuit. While I’m a strong proponent of fair use, and believe copyright rules need to be revised for the digital age, Hilton’s fair use defense doesn’t stand a chance. He stole copyrighted, non-Commons-licensed photos from multiple journalists, bloggers, news agencies and photographers alike and re-used them on his hugely popular (and profitable) Web site. More recently, he was sued for posting topless photos of Jennifer Aniston.

Had he not been too chicken to show up (and I hope he reconsiders) I would give my colleagues the opportunity to ask as many questions as they want: how does it feel to party with Paris and Linds? OMG what are you gonna wear when you host MTV’s Australian Music Video Awards? After all, it was billed not as a discussion on journalistic ethics but as “An Insider’s Take on Celebrity Culture, Blogging, and Gays in Hollywood.”

But I sure hope I wouldn’t be the only one (I’d wait until the end of the hour) to out him as a decent model for snuffing out gossip and aspiring young celeb-bloggers, but an even better example of journalism-gone-wrong and how ethics and laws still apply as equally to the blogosphere as they do to print and radio/TV.

photo by Mai Le via flickr.