Homeland Stupidity

Homeland Security secretary has stopped using e-mail

If you’re like most of us, your e-mail box fills up daily with pure junk. I’m not just talking about spam, though that’s certainly a problem. I’m talking about chain letters, stupid jokes forwarded 384 times, news you don’t need, even wedding invitations.

Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff found a solution to his e-mail problem: He no longer uses it.

Chertoff says he was so deluged with e-mail after Hurricane Katrina that he found the only way to deal with the problem was to stop using e-mail altogether. “It is unhelpful to have 15 or 16 E-mails coming from all different directions being thrown at you,” he said.

“I don’t use E-mail,” he confides. “You just get deluged with a lot of garbage.” Chertoff describes his experience with electronic mail as “picking through genuine work E-mails and invitations to baby showers.” Worse: “People sometimes will think you’ve gotten something that you actually haven’t gotten.” — U.S. News and World Report

He said that when e-mail gets forwarded, it’s more difficult to verify. So he had to instruct his aides to verify information they received via e-mail. Good advice. I’ve lost count of how many e-mail messages I’ve replied to with a link to snopes.com.

Chertoff also cited security as a reason not to use e-mail. “When you write an e-mail, you have to be mindful of the fact that nothing ever disappears,” he said. “It can be deleted, but it is still in the system somewhere.” Whose system?

But he said he’s still well informed of what’s going on, because he maintains contact with his staffers who read e-mail for him. “I rely on people communicating with my staff,” he said. “At any moment, I can request an update, and I can always be reached.” Chertoff still uses the telephone.

Unfortunately, the rest of us don’t have an army of staffers to read through every e-mail and notify us only of the important stuff.