Nick Baumann

Nick Baumann

Senior Editor

Nick is based in our DC bureau, where he covers national politics and civil liberties issues. Nick has also written for The Economist, The Atlantic, the Washington Monthly, and Commonweal. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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White House 'Recycled' Backups of its Email Records

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 5:10 PM EST

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Late last night the White House submitted a curious court filing (PDF) in the ongoing case over the 5 to 10 million emails, spanning 2003 to 2005, that have gone missing from its archives due to a "technical issue." Faced with a court order (PDF), the White House said that it has backup tapes of its email records—but only after October 2003, when it stopped recycling its backups. This means that there are apparently no backups of messages sent and received during the previous ten months of 2003—an important time period, covering the run up to the Iraq war, as well as the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity. As if this story couldn't get more convoluted, the White House is also claiming it doesn't know whether any emails from that period are actually missing.

"They suggest that they don't even know if they have anomalies, but there's plenty of public record evidence that they do [know]," says Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which, along with the National Security Archives (NSA), is suing the administration to ensure the preservation of presidential records. "This is an extremely carefully worded declaration that when you parse it through doesn't really say a whole lot," Weismann said.

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Still M.I.A.: Millions of White House Emails

| Thu Jan. 10, 2008 6:36 PM EST

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Remember how White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told us in April that she "wouldn't rule out" that the Bush administration may have lost 5 million emails? You know, the emails the White House doesn't want you to see? No? Here's your update:

Forward This to Every Naderite and Bloomberg(ite? ian?) You Know

| Thu Jan. 10, 2008 1:45 PM EST

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Some Democrats are worried that Michael Bloomberg, the liberal Democrat-turned-Republican mayor of New York City, might run for President as an independent. After all, Democrats have always tried to convince (or force) left-leaning third-party candidates not to run. The argument is that people like Ralph Nader and Michael Bloomberg split the Left-wing vote, damage Democrats' electoral prospects, and allow Right-wingers like George W. Bush to waltz into the White House. There might be something to that.

But third-party types, for their part, tend to argue that the country has a need for more diversity in politics, and that one day the public will come around to their line of thinking. But reasonable people know that's not particularly likely. Why? Because the nature of our voting system create an environment that favors two stable parties:

Is Ron Paul a Bigot?

| Tue Jan. 8, 2008 6:37 PM EST

James Kirchick has the Paulites in a fuss. The onetime Marty Peretz assistant (and, some say, political doppelganger) is now a newly-minted TNR assistant editor, and his latest effort is a revealing investigation into Ron Paul's past.

John McCain, All-Around Good Guy

| Fri Jan. 4, 2008 3:06 PM EST

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If John McCain does something hypocritical in a forest, does anyone notice?

As everyone knows, John McCain is just a great guy. So great, apparently, that he can criticize negative ads one moment, then turn around and issue his own attack ads the next, and no one will report it. According to a biting Media Matters piece:

Numerous print media outlets reported on Sen. John McCain's assertion following the Iowa caucuses that "[t]he lesson of this election in Iowa is that ... negative campaigns don't work." But none of those articles noted that McCain has run negative TV and Web ads against Mitt Romney.

Numerous attack ads, indeed. McCain just released another one today, which says, in part: "Mitt Romney, leading? He'd rather call lawyers."

The main-stream media, tell the full story? They'd rather just keep loving John McCain. Let's hope they at least report the "Let's stay in Iraq for 100 years" comment.

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