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White House Wiki Watch

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By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, August 17, 2007; 12:56 PM

WikiScanner, the most spectacular new invention on the Internet, allows you to see who has made changes to Wikipedia, the popular Web encyclopedia that anyone can edit -- and that includes White House staffers.

Wired News has been keeping a running tally on some of the more amusing and outrageous discoveries. (Someone at Exxon cleaning up the entry on the Valdez oil spill; someone at Halliburton editing the entry on war crimes, etc.) There have been so many edits by congressional staffers that the topic gets its own page on Wikipedia.

So what about the White House? Well, this WikiScanner results page is a list of Wikipedia edits by people who appear to use White House (eop.gov) servers.

(If you can't get through, try going directly to Wikipedia for a list of edits by these IP addresses: 63.161.169.64, 63.161.169.65, 63.161.169.66, 63.161.169.67, and 63.161.169.68.)

I don't know for certain if these edits were made by White House staffers. Many have vanished in time, overwritten by other changes made by the Wikipedia community. And I only had a chance to do a cursory examination this morning. But here's some of what I found. (Post anything you find in the comment section at the bottom of the page; I'll publish more on Monday.)

In May 2005 someone added to the main entry on President Bush: "His favorite sandwhich is peanut butter and jelly." (Which is true, though spelled wrong.)

In December 2005 someone removed this clause from the page on appointee Rob Portman: "who is a millionaire thanks to his family's heavy-equipment business."

In March 2007 someone edited presidential personnel director Liza Wright's profile to add the following: "She is responsible for leading the team that recruits thousands of candidates for all senior-level positions within the Bush Administration. Mrs. Wright meets with the President regularly to make recommendations for all political appointees throughout the Executive Branch, including cabinet and non-cabinet members, ambassadors, and appointees to Presidential boards and commissions."

Some of the other pages apparently edited by White House staffers include those on the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Jane Fonda, Washington socialite Juleanna Glover Weiss and Horcruxes (it's a Harry Potter thing).

Some changes are just copy-editing, like repeated fixes of this page about White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

Some were amusing, like of this West Wing page, changing the description of Pete Seat from "Special Assistant to The President and Press Assistant (Slide Show specialist)" to "Dude."

A Question of Shame

Notes from the FBI Director released yesterday support former deputy attorney general James Comey's dramatic description of a shameful White House attempt to get a desperately ill John Ashcroft to approve elements of a domestic spying program that Ashcroft's subordinates had determined was illegal.


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