The upfront back channel

Buying the White House line on off-the-books e-mails.

Published April 9, 2007 2:53PM (EDT)

From the "Accepting the Party Line" Department comes the Los Angeles Times, which states unequivocally today that a "back-channel" White House e-mail and paging system that was "paid for and maintained by" the Republican National Committee "was designed to avoid charges that had vexed the Clinton White House -- that federal resources were being used inappropriately for political campaign purposes."

Isn't it at least a little bit possible that the separate system was designed to keep Congress or the public from seeing communications that Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Co. might like to have kept secret?

To be fair, the Clinton White House also had a separate communication system, but it wasn't of nearly the same scale as the one the RNC bought when George W. Bush took office. Doug Sosnik, who served as White House political director during Clinton's tenure, tells the Times that only a handful of people used the separate Clinton-era system -- and that he couldn't recall any instance in which White House officials would have used the system to communicate with the Justice Department.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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