A Culture of Deniability
Thursday, March 15, 2007; 4:12 PM
President Bush yesterday acknowledged that he mentioned some Republican complaints about U.S. attorneys to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last fall. And lo and behold, not long after that, a total of eight prosecutors had been purged from their jobs, for reasons the White House has yet to make clear.
Did Bush pull the trigger himself? Apparently not. He says he didn't name names or demand that anybody be fired.
But did he have to?
In any organization, there is such a thing as its "corporate culture." This White House's corporate culture is that Bush gets what he wants. Sometimes, he doesn't even have to say what that is; it's understood.
And no one understands Bush better -- or responds with more alacrity -- than his longtime "enabler", Alberto Gonzales.
Similarly, in spite of the embarrassing revelations contained in the e-mails turned over by the Justice Department to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the general rule at the White House is that if it's really sensitive, don't put it in writing -- certainly not in an e-mail.
That stuff gets archived.
The president himself, for instance, never uses e-mail at all.
And it now turns out that some of his aides sometimes avoid using their official White House e-mail accounts -- the ones that get automatically archived.
As I wrote in yesterday's column, Tuesday's document dump -- which initiated from the Justice Department, not the White House -- includes e-mails from J. Scott Jennings, Karl Rove's deputy at the White House, coming from an e-mail address at gwb43.com. That's a domain owned by the Republican National Committee.
This raises all sorts of questions. I put four of them to a White House spokesman yesterday, but haven't gotten a response.