The Project on Government oversight has doubts:
Does Mr. High-Tech Revolution-in-Military-Affairs Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even have an email address? Apparently not. POGO tried to obtain his email to no avail beginning this Tuesday. You can, however, snail mail him.
What does it say about the future of defense transformation if the SECDEF doesn’t use the most ubiuitous application of the PC age?
I mounted my own investigation. After clicking through several hundred news stories (all online, baby) that mention “Donald Rumsfeld” in close proximity to “e-mail”, I think POGO is on to something.
Rumsfeld apparently has strong opinions on how to e-mail and keep an inbox clean, according to the Ottawa Citizen:
Mr.Rumsfeld was giving advice on time management to his staff, and the major item was the e-mail in-box. His advice was to stay on top of it, but he also explained how.
The trick is apparently to remember “your own agenda.” The letters to answer are the ones that offer an opportunity to advance it. The letters to ignore are the many that don’t. And ignore means ignore, as ruthless means ruthless.
Unfortunately, the article — David Warren, “Me, myself and e-mail,” The Ottawa Citizen, December 8, 2002, p. A16 — is not online. But Rumsfeld’s reported use of “letter” to describe an e-mail seems, well, suspicious. It wouldn’t be the first time the SECDEF gave unsolicited advice on a subject about which he knows very little.
The only specific reference to Rumsfeld e-mailing comes from the Washington Post, which notes:
[Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Newt] Gingrich uses his access to Rumsfeld to pepper the defense secretary with e-mails on defense-related topics.
The most famous example was Gringrich’s intervention to preserve the Stryker Interim Armored Vehicle, which prompted “a recent series of e-mails to Rumsfeld’s office now circulating around the Pentagon.”
I notice that story says the e-mails were sent to Rumsfeld’s office.
I tracked down a website purporting to publish the full text of the e-mails, which are filled with amusing little bits of arcana like the fact that Newt’s e-mail address is Thirdwave2@aol.com — a reference to futurist Alvin Toffler’s book The Third Wave.
The e-mails, from Newt’s personal account, are addressed to Larry DiRita — consistent with the hypothesis that SECDEF doesn’t e-mail.
Man, defense transformation is screwed.