The growing controversy over the firing of federal prosecutors and what administration officials knew about it is renewing concerns among Bush aides over the less-than-secret aspect of emails.
Those concerns were elevated this week when a House chairman asked that all aides retain their emails. But just a week after emails in the U.S. attorneys case became a main focus of congressional Democrats probing the firings, several aides said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence.
"We just got a bit lazy," said one aide. "We knew emails could be subpoenaed. We saw that with the Clintons but I don't think anybody saw that we were doing anything wrong." But the release of White House emails to the Democrats and the expanded request for more from Rep. Henry Waxman has iced the system.
At least two aides said that they have subsequently bought their own private email system through a cellular phone or Blackberry server. When asked how he communicated, one aide pulled out a new personal cellphone and said, "texting."
By Paul Bedard