While I was off teaching at the Lotus Top Gun training class (for new IBM Lotus hires and business partners) today, several readers sent me links to various news reports on the latest in the US White House e-mail story.

From Ars Technica, "An elephant never forgets? George W. Bush's lost e-mails":

When the Bush administration took office, it decided to replace the Lotus Notes-based e-mail system used under the Clinton Administration with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. The transition broke compatibility with the old archiving system, and the White House IT shop did not immediately have a new one to put in its place.

Instead, the White House has instituted a comically primitive system called "journaling," in which (to quote from a recent Congressional report) "a White House staffer or contractor would collect from a 'journal' e-mail folder in the Microsoft Exchange system copies of e-mails sent and received by White House employees." These would be manually named and saved as ".pst" files on White House servers.

One of the more vocal critics of the White House's e-mail-retention policies is Steven McDevitt, who was a senior official in the White House IT shop from September 2002 until he left in disgust in October 2006. He points out what would be obvious to anyone with IT experience: the system wasn't especially reliable or tamper-proof.  ...

Even more troubling, due to a lack of redundancy and proper access controls, anyone with access to the White House servers could have tampered with or deleted the e-mails in the archives. And without adequate logging facilities, there might be no way to determine who might have tampered with the files or what might have been changed.
Over 1000 diggs and four pages of discussion tagged onto that article.

Slashdot also picked up the Ars Technica article, over 500 comments logged there.  There, of course, you get more noise than signal, but there are some funny one-liners, including:

"Upgrading our Lotus Notes with Microsoft Exchange allowed White House staff to cut jail time by more than 83%."

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