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Letter from the Editor

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I'm sure I'm not alone in having done this: You get an e-mail from an aquaintance — perhaps a co-worker worked up about something trivial or someone whose politics you despise or maybe even your boss.

The e-mailer rants and ego-struts and shows his buffoonery with every sentence. You are amazed and amused at this pompous maroon — so amazed and amused that you decide to share it with a friend. So you forward it, along with a snarky e-mail of your own about what an idiot this fellow is. You smirk at your own cleverness and hit "send."

Four seconds later, you realize that instead of forwarding the message to your friend, you've sent it back to the person you're making fun of.

Panic ensues. You call the IT guy and ask if there's any way to "call back" the e-mail. He chortles as only an IT guy faced with 43 daily requests to "fix the copier" can chortle. "Nope," he says. "Once it's sent, it's sent."

I imagine the feeling one gets at such moments is similar to what's going on in the White House these days. Unlike Nixon's infamous missing 18 minutes of audiotape, e-mails are forever.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Democratic investigators are demanding access to a Republican National Committee/White House e-mail system that was used by Karl Rove's office and other top officials. Democrats suspect the system may have been used to end-run the official government system — a violation of federal law — to conceal contacts with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, among others.

The Times says some Republicans believe that the e-mails — many written hastily, with no thought that they might become public — may contain detailed and unguarded inside information about the administration's far-flung political activities.

"There is concern about what may be in these e-mails," said one GOP activist.

I can relate.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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