Sarah Palin ordered to preserve Yahoo! emails
Used for official Alaska business
US vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has been ordered to preserve all emails from private accounts that relate to state business.
Superior Court Judge Craig Stowers ordered Alaska's attorney general to recover messages contained in a Yahoo email account maintained by Palin. The account was breached last month and some of its contents were posted to Wikileaks.
Friday's court order follows revelations that the Alaska governor has conducted email discussions concerning official state business from a Yahoo email address. According to The Washington Post, Palin, her husband and several aides established additional private email accounts that were apparently known only to one another. Critics say her use of email accounts outside of the state's official system violates open government laws that require such communications to be available to members of the public.
Indeed, according to screenshots posted to Wikileaks, email sent to Palin's Yahoo account contained subject headings including "Draft letter to Governor Schwarzenegger," "Court of Appeals Nominations" and "CONFIDENTIAL Ethics Matter."
The McCain campaign ordered all of Palin's email accounts frozen after the breach of the Yahoo address became public.
Andree McLeod, an Anchorage activist, has sued Palin to access more than 1,100 emails the governor refused to turn over during a public records request. Although Palin cited executive privilege in declining the request, McLeod's attorney contends the governor waived the privilege by routinely copying messages to her husband, Todd, who is not a state employee.
Last week, the son of a Tennessee democratic representative was indicted by a federal grand jury for illegally accessing Palin's Yahoo account and posting some of its contents. David Kernell, 20, has pleaded not guilty.
In addition to skirting public records laws, critics have faulted Palin's use of unofficial email accounts for the ease with which messages can be intercepted. Yahoo mail's password reset feature, which was used to breach Palin's account, is notoriously easy to manipulate by unauthorized individuals.
Members of the Bush administration have also been accused of using private accounts to send emails conducting official White House business. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (Democrat of California) said in March 2007 that White House officials used nongovernmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of the communications.
More recently, Vice President Dick Cheney's office has acknowledged that an entire week's worth of email is missing from White House archives. It was the first week of October, 2003, the opening days in a probe by the Justice Department into whether anyone at the White House leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. ®
Pretty much correct, with a twist ...
Any official correspondence of any kind is subject to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. In most cases, this even includes non-official correspondence that was executed using public resources, like a government email account, or in the Palin case, the account(s) she used for official business ... including what probably started out as her personal Yahoo account (which is no longer personal, because she demonstrably used it for official business.)
All of that would, indeed, be vetted and redacted or suppressed, depending on its level of sensitivity to National Security. In the case(s) of Governors and lower-level government operatives, it is tough to claim that anything they do might compromise National Security, but it still gets filtered through that lens.
In the case of the U.S. Presidency, the President may claim Executive Privilege in order to shield correspondence from the public, however that will only work with correspondence directly relating to National Security, once they are out of office.
In the case of Palin's emails and other correspondence, things are further complicated by the fact that many (most?) of her correspondence CCs her husband, Todd, the "First Dude", for some reason. The sweet part about that is that since Todd is not a member of any government, but is a private citizen, then any correspondence to which he was privvy is no longer considered to be under the protection of National Security or any other suppressive rule, and must be released as any other non-sensitive, public document must be. After all, WE, the People, are our government's employers ... they serve at our whim ... so all of their work product, with very few exceptions, is discoverable under the Freedom of Information Act.
But none of those laws or regulations mean that we will actually get any of the emails. Even Federal subpoenas aren't enough to compel the current bunch of scallywags to render unto the public what is the public's.
"God Help America"?!? More like, "God Help The Planet"!!
Remember "we fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" is a GOP mantra. If Palin becomes President (hell, I'd even believe McCain could do this), then "it's only a little mushroom cloud over Iran" could become a Palin quote. I mean ... Americans will still be okay, and Europe has France in it, so ...
@Chris G / @stickman
I thought it was more the case that Blair was incapable of working out how to "do" email