Paging the "Liberal" Media! Paging the "Liberal" Media! Hello? Anybody out there?
As reported previously here, here and here, it looks like the scrubbing of various historical documents and other elements of the White House Website is continuing! And may be wider and more systematic than previously known. The BRAD BLOG has discovered a boat-load of audio and video that has been removed from the website!
It's more than just Bush's "I'm not that concerned about Bin Laden" Audio and Video (reported here previously) that's been taken down. And more than the White House's "List of Coalition Members" as reported here.
After reviewing scores of pages of White House transcribed Press Conferences by George Bush, it seems that the removal of certain audio and video clips has perhaps been strategically or systematically orchestrated. Here's a few examples of some of the pages that have had their linked Audio and/or Video clips removed, along with some of the notable Bush quotes --- that "notability" is mere conjecture on my part --- from their transcripts that perhaps the White House would prefer not be easily available to folks anymore (NOTE: The Audio and Video links are still on the following pages, but the content for them, when those links are clicked upon, is no longer available.)
March 29, 2001: "Press Conference by the President"
"Mis-underestimate" and more.
UPDATE 10/25/04: WH seems to have restored this one since we originally published. The others below, as of 7:29pm PT are still missing their Audio/Video.
July 22, 2001: "Press Conference by President Bush and President Putin"
"And I assured them that from a fiscal perspective, one, we're going to hold the line on spending."
"I said my administration has had a full-scale review of the climate issue; that we're in the process of developing a strategy as quickly as we possibly can and one that we look forward to sharing with our friends and allies. A strategy that begins with the notion that we want to reduce greenhouse gasses in America."
"And they're going to find out that when I say we're interested in reducing greenhouse gasses that we mean it."
July 23, 2001: "Press Conference by President Bush and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi"
"it is an issue [stem cell research] that, on the one hand, deals with so much hope, hope that perhaps through research and development we'll be able to save lives. It's also an issue that has got serious moral implications. And our nation must think carefully before we proceed. And, therefore, my process has been, frankly, unusually deliberative for my administration. I'm taking my time."
March 22, 2002: "Press Conference by President Bush and President Fox"
"He is a dangerous man who possesses the world's most dangerous weapons."
"I hope that, of course, he allows inspectors to go into his country, like he promised he would do. Not for he sake of letting inspectors in, but to showing the world that he has no weapons of mass destruction."
April 6, 2002: "President Bush, Prime Minister Blair Hold Press Conference"
"We both recognize the danger of a man who's willing to kill his own people harboring and developing weapons of mass destruction. "
"Maybe I should be a little less direct and be a little more nuanced, and say we support regime change. "
Discussion about "direct linkage" between Al Qaeda and Saddam.
Those are just a few of the examples I've been able to find and just some of the quotes that jumped out at me as items the White House may not like their opposition to be able to use against them during this campaign. I'm sure you may find other now-uncomfortable Bush quotes in some of those transcripts.
I don't pretend to know for certain precisely what they are hoping to accomplish by doing this, other than an attempt to make it less convenient for folks opposed to Bush to use his own words against him in various ways (via homegrown audio and video ads, etc.). Much of the Audio and Video they've removed, no doubt, is publically available via C-SPAN.org and the Broadcast/Cable News operations certainly have their own versions. None the less, it's a lot harder for a guy like me to get a copy of say, Bush's March 22, 2002 Press Conference with Vicente Fox from the internal video tape libraries at CNN than it would be to merely grab it off the White House site where it had previously been available for all Americans.
The idea that the White House may be using their governmental website (which is owned by the People, not by George Bush or the Republicans) for potential partisan advantage is troubling at best and strictly illegal at worst. There is a strict legal line drawn that disallows the use of such public facilities (White House phone lines, etc) for blatant partisan/campaign activities.
It seems clear that the use of the White House website for this purpose would fall under that strict statute and monkeying with it --- and the historical documents it had previously provided --- for political/partisan/campaign gains, I'd think, would be strictly off-limits. I welcome the input from any political legal eagles on this.
I'll note the cautious words of Josh Marshall when he picked up on our earlier coverage of this story last week, "I can't say myself whether there's not some more innocent or more technical-snafu type explanation. But it does strike me as suspicious."
A "technical-snafu" might explain why some of this audio and video is no longer there when it once was, but that benefit-of-the-doubt was removed in at least this one instance when a graphical link to a "Who are the Coalition Members?" document on their special report called "RENEWAL IN IRAQ: The Coalition" was changed to no longer even exist in that report. The document linked from that clickable graphic first disappeared after Cheney accused Edwards of not counting Iraqis amongst the coalition casualties during the V.P. Debate, and after we had informed the webmaster of the problem, the graphic element that linked to that document was removed completely. That could only have been done purposefully by the White House webmaster as opposed to an incorrectly specified link.
Isn't it time someone from the national media asked the Bush White House about this? This has been reported here for about three weeks, and the various broken links reported so far are either still broken or removed entirely.
I'm sure you remember the hue and cry from the Right over Al Gore, back in 2000, making some potential phone-calls to donors that may have occurred on White House phone lines. Isn't the possible systematic removal of archival White House documents from their website for political purposes at least as notable?
Not to mention the continuing question of what else has been removed from the historical record there that is not quite as easy to notice?! Isn't it time the White House was asked about this? If there's an innocent explanation, I'm sure they can give it, and restore those links immediately. Otherwise...what's this all about?
UPDATE 10/22/04: Hooray! Mainstream media finally picks up on this story!
UPDATE 10/24/04: BRAD BLOG reports on more Scrubbing and evidence of violations of the "Presidential Records Act of 1978"! Right Here!
UPDATE 10/25/04: The Washington Post finally picks up the story today! Twice!
UPDATE 10/29/04: BRAD BLOG SUCCESS! WH restores Audio/Video! Though much still missing...