WASHINGTON — E-mail sent to Vice President Al Gore’s office is still
not being recorded for subpoena searches, the White House’s top lawyer
revealed yesterday. And she claims the 625 back-up tapes of that e-mail
can’t be fully searched until around the
In a related matter, the lawyer also revealed that the White House
recently searched through a disk full of Monica Lewinsky e-mail — a
move that may have violated a court order.
Vice President Al Gore
White House Counsel Beth Nolan told Congress that all e-mail sent to
Gore’s office, located across from the White House, is “not being
captured” by an automated archive system. And she testified that the
White House “has not been able to correct the problem.”
But she maintains that the messages are being recorded on emergency
back-up tapes. She says the tapes, which number 625, are in the custody
of the White House security office.
Nolan says the White House has hired a private contractor to convert
the Gore tapes, as well as thousands that back up missing White House
Office e-mail, to a format that can be easily searched.
“We could have the back-ups searched within six months,” Nolan said
– which would delay until September compliance with several outstanding
subpoenas from Congress, the independent counsel, the Justice Department
and public interest law firm Judicial Watch Inc. All are conducting probes into various
White House scandals, ranging from Chinagate to the Lewinsky case to
The Chinagate scandal covers fund-raising abuses by Gore, including
his 1996 hosting of a felonious fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in Los
Nolan stressed that the six-month projection is “preliminary” and is
“subject to amendment as the project proceeds.”
She claimed that it will take more than two months just to set up the
equipment in the White House needed to restore the lost e-mail.
Nolan made the statements at an initially packed hearing held by the
House Government Reform Committee, which is exploring whether the White
House obstructed justice by not telling Congress and federal prosecutors
about the missing e-mail.
One noteworthy visitor was President Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey,
who has been tasked with damage-control duties in past scandals. He lent
support to Nolan during her testimony in this, the latest Clinton
scandal — “e-gate.”
Much of the mainstream press attended the hearing, including New York
Times and Washington Post reporters, as well as CNN correspondent Bob
Franken. (Several weeks ago, Franken interviewed e-mail
whistle-blower Sheryl Hall, a seven-year Clinton White House veteran,
but his network has still failed to air the tape.)
To restore the missing e-mail, White House spokesman Jim Kennedy, who
also attended the hearing, said the White House has hired a contractor
– Springfield-Va.-based ECS Technology — as well as a subcontractor –
Fairfax, Va.-based Systems Research
and Applications Corp.
Kennedy told WorldNetDaily that the White House inked contracts with
the companies on Wednesday. Combined cost: $3 million.
After some quizzing, Nolan also disclosed that the White House
recently took the liberty of opening a so-called Zip disk under subpoena
by Judicial Watch in its Filegate lawsuit.
Larry Klayman, the watchdog group’s chairman, told WorldNetDaily the
disk was put “under seal” by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth. He
argued that the White House flouted Lamberth’s order not to tamper with
the expanded-storage disk, which contains a large cache of e-mail from
Lewinsky to the White House.
“They weren’t supposed to touch that disk,” said Klayman, who plans
to file a complaint to Lamberth.
After White House officials opened the disk full of Lewinsky e-mails,
which was made by a non-government technician, they decided to make
their own disk.
They “couldn’t read” all of the files in the original disk they
opened, Nolan explained. So they got on the Northrop Grumman
technician’s computer and copied all the files off his hard drive onto
the new Zip disk.
Nolan says the new Zip disk was turned over to Charles Easley, the
White House security chief. But she failed to say what became of the
Panel chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind., vowed to subpoena both disks. He
also said he will subpoena the hard copies of the Lewinsky messages that
the technician, Robert Haas, printed from a file on his hard drive and
handed over to the White House counsel’s office in 1998.
Contrary to White House claims that recovering lost e-mail would be a
long and costly task, computer-forensics experts tell WorldNetDaily that
they doubt recovering the subpoenaed messages would take months.
Apparently experts are telling Burton’s committee the same thing.
Staffers there have been flooded with computer specialists from around
the country offering their services to retrieve the missing e-mail.
“I’ve gotten e-mail and phone calls from all these computer people
saying, ‘Hey, my company can do it, and it doesn’t take that long at
all. It’s really easy. All you have to do is write a program. We could
have all the stuff in three weeks,’” said committee
spokesman Mark Corallo.
The White House used a similar excuse when the Senate Whitewater
committee subpoenaed e-mail for its probe in 1995.
On Jan. 7, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., complained to ABC News that
the White House told him it couldn’t send over e-mail to his panel
because it would be “too expensive to retrieve.”
It turns out that the White House counsel’s office knew about the
e-mail archiving problem as early as January 1998. And the White House
chief of staff’s office knew about it in June 1998, if not earlier.
Yet the White House never told Congress or any of the other
investigative bodies that the subpoenaed records it was sending over had
potentially huge gaps in them.
Nolan, who took over as chief counsel in September 1999, confessed
she was briefed on the problem this past January.
But she failed to inform Congress until after the story broke in the
Washington Times this month.
Lindsey, Clinton’s special counsel, turns up on the list of White
House officials whose in-coming e-mail wasn’t archived from 1996 to
Asked if he knew his own e-mail account wasn’t being archived,
Lindsey replied frostily: “No.” He then got up from his chair and walked
See Larry Klayman’s column:
Stop hiding, Mr. Ray