Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Instead, Rumsfeld and Chertoff favor decrees etched into stone tablets or hand-calligraphied parchment scrolls delivered via pony express

Newsweek terrier Mark Hosenball, the ying to Michael Isikoff's investigative yang, has a pretty shocking revelation today: when the House committee investigating the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina requested responses e-mails from Donald Rumsfeld and Michael Chertoff documenting their response to the hurricane, no such emails were turned over. Why? As it turns out, Rumsfeld and Chertoff don't use email.

Who doesn't use email these days? How can Rumsfeld and Chertoff not use this staple of modern communication? "Feh," say their offices. "We phone it in or walk the news on over. We're good." Of course, anyone who's ever been distracted by an email (or, heaven forbid, the incursions of Google Chat) knows that email can sometimes be a productivity drain. So maybe Rumsfeld and Chertoff are actually being efficient?

Not so, says go-to disaster preparedness expert Irwin Redlener of Columbia University: "It's almost inconceivable in 2006 for officials at that level of government not to be directly connected to systems of communications."

Hmm. Too bad they had no warning that a crisis might strike in Louisiana at any time. Oh, wait.

Perspective: Britney Spears' song "E-Mail My Heart" was released in 1999. It's 2006.

They Haven't Got Mail [Newsweek]

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