Amid the many questions raised by the Bush administration’s dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, one thing is clear. The executive branch would not be in a position of having to defend the firings but for the 3,000 pages of e-mail messages released by the Department of Justice.

Authored by senior department officials, some of the messages are chatty and sarcastic. Many are serious and studious. Some suggest that politics played an unhealthy role in the dismissals. All are now part of the public record. They demonstrate how the state of technology can influence the affairs of state.

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