Presidential candidates: Take a data integrity and transparency pledge

Presidential candidates: Take a data integrity and transparency pledge

Summary: Whomever you support for president, I hope you'll consider joining me in asking the candidates for a pledge that they will enforce data integrity policies at least as rigorous as expected of publicly traded companies, and that they'll open their administration to public scrutiny of most public policy.After eight years of an presidency that considers itself immune to the simplest email storage requirements, the United States could use some insight into how decisions are made at the White House.

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Whomever you support for president, I hope you'll consider joining me in asking the candidates for a pledge that they will enforce data integrity policies at least as rigorous as expected of publicly traded companies, and that they'll open their administration to public scrutiny of most public policy.

After eight years of an presidency that considers itself immune to the simplest email storage requirements, the United States could use some insight into how decisions are made at the White House. More than 1,000 days worth of email are missing from the Bush years, in some cases entire weeks' worth of mail relating to the leaking of CIA operative Virgina Plame's identity and the application of torture have disappeared. With Bush Administration officials continuing to drag their feet on implementation of email archiving systems, we are threatened with another four or eight years of government operating in the shadows, because an incoming president could blame the faulty storage systems they found for future omissions.

Granted, the Clinton administration hasn't thrown open the doors to its archives, but, at least, they maintained a record of intra-administration communication, even at a time when email was barely mature and archival requirements were uncertain. It's a standard we should expect of every administration, more so now that there are well-known best practices for records-retention available for public companies, investment banks and government agencies.

"I don't want you reading my personal stuff," President Bush has told the press when asked about why his administration has failed to comply with records-retention laws during his time in office. Unfortunately, Mr. President, nothing you do at your desk, or in the airplanes, cars and buildings we give you to use as president, is "your personal stuff." It is the property of the people. As voters, we must demand greater accountability of the next president.

Just as a company needs to be able to review its internal communications to find out why it made mistakes, the U.S. government should be able to benefit from the experience of previous administrations, as well as the scholarly study of records, so that we constantly improve the handling of day-to-day and crisis situations. Democracy demands that we have the ability to review what our leaders have discussed as they decide on our behalf how money will be spent, what policies will be enforced and why and when we go to war.

So, let's pull together as Americans and demand more of our political leaders. Join me in urging the candidates to commit to store all email and documents created or used by their staffs during their tenure in the White House. Regardless of the winner in the upcoming election, the infrastructure for the people's participation in, and review of, executive decisions is ready for a president that will honor the people's right to know what has been done in their name.

Logon to your candidate's site to urge them to take the data integrity and transparency pledge:

John McCain. Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul. Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton.

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5 comments
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  • I predict an Egyptian president

    For eight years---
    BALTHOR
  • Executive Privilege and National Security.

    Are just two reasons why such pledges are ridiculous. While you may think you need to know everything that transpires in the Whitehouse it is not an unalienable right.
    ShadeTree
    • Ridiculous?

      National security and executive privilege are reasons to
      seal records, not to fail to store them. What you are
      dismissing is accountability in government, not a "right" to
      information. The government is strictly accountable to the
      people and only to the people, which is why executive
      records are kept and studied for decades after a president
      leaves office. We need them to learn from, and improve on,
      past experience?and every president has kept the paper
      records of their administration for future use.

      Now that so much information is transmitted electronically,
      we can't fail future generations by allowing presidents to
      ignore their responsibility to preserve their electronic
      records. Moreover, national security and executive
      privilege are <i>limited</i> privileges rather than
      blankets that cover all executive activity. There is no
      excuse for any White House to fail to keep any email at all
      in the interest of national security or executive privilege,
      which are usually asserted after the record exists.
      Mitch Ratcliffe
  • RE: Presidential candidates: Take a data integrity and transparency pledge

    Marcus Tullius Cicero:

    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear."
    terry_jp1@...
  • They'll just write less email....hopefully

    I don't want them using email anyway. Our Asian buddies and the Israeli's would definitely be reading it.
    Let em only talk on scrambled phones, at least the opposition only get the transcriptions hours later rather than real-time. I'm for transparency, but I'm not crazy.
    I want them concentrating on the job at hand, not running everything past the PR and legal committee before they communicate.....
    topsecret@...