US prez George Bush has admitted he does not send personal emails to daughters Jenna and Barbara for fear that his "personal stuff" might end up in the public domain.
Bush made the admission on Thursday to the American Society of Newspaper Editors during a discussion centring on whether the US government is sufficiently forthcoming to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, Reuters reports. Bush said the administration gets around 3.5 million FOIA requests a year and noted: "I would hope that those who expose documents are wise about the difference between that which truly would jeopardize national security and that which should be read."
We leave it to readers to imagine quite what exactly any email between George and Jenna and Barbara might contain which - were it released into the wild - could threaten national security*. Bush says it's a personal privacy issue: "I don't want you reading my personal stuff," he admitted, adding: "There has got to be a certain sense of privacy. You know, you're entitled to how I make decisions. And you're entitled to ask questions, which I answer. I don't think you're entitled to be able to read my mail between my daughters and me."
Bush is probably right that people should expect a certain privacy for their personal e-correspondence, in which case he must be delighted by the recently defanged Patriot Act, a typically knee-jerk post-9/11 piece of legislation which attempted to oblige ISPs to "comply with a request for subscriber information and toll billing records information, or electronic communication transactional records".
Well, United States District Judge Victor Marrero last October gave that particular provision the legislative heave-ho, although FBI Director Robert Mueller earlier this month begged the Senate Judiciary Committee for "expanded powers to issue an administrative subpoena - essentially a demand for information such as medical, banking, and phone and internet records without a judge's prior approval".
Of course, the Patriot Act is there to defend the US against the long shadow of terrorist menace. The FOIA is there to allow people some hope that they might one day find out just how their government defended them against the long shadow of terrorist menace. Or not. Sean Moulton, a spokesman for OMB Watch, which tracks goings-on at the White House Office of Management and Budget and other government agencies, said: "This is a government that is getting worse by the day in terms of permitting the public access to information and documents that they have paid for."
Bush concluded by admitting that his avoidance of email correspondence was because "everything is investigated in Washington". He confessed that, as a result, "we're losing a lot of history, not just with me, but with other presidents as well".
We take this to mean that Bill Clinton at no stage exchanged email pleasantries with Monika Lewinsky. We further suspect this was on personal, rather than national, security grounds - to prevent a furious Hillary using the FOIA to get FBI transcripts of the correspondence with which to soundly thrash her miscreant hubby. ®
*Here's one to get you started:
FROM: Airforce One
TO: The Twins
Hi girls mom is fine and v.busy with her apple pie bakerizing and stuff. Sorry, can't make lunch 6 June cos little Donny R. says we are going to give it to the Eyeranians. The first wave will go in at 6am EST - subject to CNN approval. Don't tell anyone, though, cos we're hoping to catch the Ayatollahs on the hop. Love Pop.