Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Your e-mails don't disappear - unless you're named Dick Cheney

I work for a company that – among other things – creates and sells software and online services for attorneys to conduct legal discovery electronically. E-mail messages typically make up a huge volume of documents that lawyers want to look at when trying to find relevant documents for their lawsuit.

Anyway, I’ve learned by talking to the digital forensics experts at my company that short of shooting a hard drive or server into space, lighting it on fire or dropping it to the bottom of the ocean, it is virtually impossible to completely get rid of e-mail records. There are too many backups, sent copies and even deleted e-mail is recoverable. And they find them.

On the flip side of that coin, many people (even those who really should know better) simply do not think that what they write on e-mail will ever be seen by anyone else. Not true.

And so it was quite interesting last week when the
story came out abut e-mails showing the owner of the Seattle Supersonics, Clay Bennett, had been lying to the city of Seattle, the Washington state government and the NBA about his intentions to not move the team to Oklahoma.

All this is a very recent example of how e-mail is accessible and useable by the law. So…

I’m really scratching my head about how every time over the last year when e-mails from Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, the Republican Party or the White House are requested as part of investigations into the suspect firing of state attorneys general not willing to do Rove’s bidding, the buildup to the Iraq war and Cheney's energy task force…they simply can say “well,
they were deleted,” or “we lost them.” And, nothing happens. It’s just over. Why? In short, just what the hell is going on here?

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