I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
– Lord Acton, in his famous letter to Bishop Creighton, 1887
The following article is the latest from investigative journalist David Sirota, a man who isn’t afraid to expose corruption, even when the guilty happen to be rich and powerful. With New York State public officials, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, in the midst of a federal investigation into corruption, state officials apparently deem it the right time to go ahead and initiate a mass deletion of emails. Simply incredible.
In a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany. That investigation has been looking at state legislators and the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo’s move to purge state emails follows a similar move he made as state Attorney General. International Business Times confirmed that in 2007, he put in place a mass deletion policy for emails in the New York Attorney General’s office that were more than 90 days old, making it difficult for the public to know how — or whether — his office investigated bank fraud in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. In the Cuomo administration’s announcement this week, the governor’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, justified the new email purge as a cost-saving measure aimed at “making government work better.”
These people are utterly shameless.
But former prosecutors and open-government advocates interviewed by IBTimes say the move seems designed to hide information.
Melanie Sloan, a former Clinton Justice Department official, said the timing of the move raises significant legal questions.
“This is potentially obstruction of justice,” she told IBTimes. “The only reason that the government destroys records is so no one can question what it is doing, and no one can unearth information about improper conduct. There’s no reason for New York not to preserve this information.”
The technological mechanics of the Cuomo administration’s email purge remain murky. According to a document from New York’s Office of Information Technology Services, the state’s new Microsoft Office 365 system purges deleted mail after 90 days and makes sure that mail “cannot be recovered.” The document says that all mail — whether manually deleted or not — “will be subject to the 90 day retention policy.”
While Cuomo officials have suggested that the purge policy is a technical necessity to consolidate email systems, researcher Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said, “There’s no technological reason that New York can’t maintain these records indefinitely.”
Cuomo’s new policy stands in contrast to the federal government’s, which mandates that emails be retained for three to seven years. That federal policy change followed high-profile revelations that the Securities and Exchange Commission shredded documents related to financial investigations.
This whole thing becomes even more fascinating and disturbing in the context of the recent case of Barrett Brown, an American journalist and political prisoner, sentenced to five years for the crime of angering powerful people in the intelligence-industrial complex.
One of the charges to which Barrett plead guilty was obstruction of justice for hiding his laptop in order to protect his sources. Mind you, Barrett Brown was in the business of exposing shady dealings between intelligence contractors and the U.S. government, which is very much in the public interest. For this he was locked in a cage. On the other hand, the governor of the third largest state in America can apparently obstruct justice all he wants in order to hide evidence of activities that may be directly adverse to the public interest. Once again, this is how “justice” is served in modern America.
Meanwhile, for those of you who aren’t aware, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is the son of former Governor of New York State, Mario Cuomo, who served from 1983-1994, as I was coming of age in NYC. Further evidence of the America oligarchy. Can’t wait for another Bush vs. Clinton in 2016!
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