Microsoft's Secret Mail

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Now there's more than one high-profile Bill suspected of obstructing justice. Officials at the Department of Justice are trying to determine whether Microsoft destroyed e-mail that might have helped the government's antitrust case, according to USA Today. The paper said that former Microsoft employees have provided evidence that an undetermined number of electronic messages were deleted in May, shortly before the Justice Department filed its most recent antitrust suit. If the DOJ turns that accusation into something substantial, it could transform a regulatory case into a criminal investigation -- and leave Bill Gates feeling as aggrieved as Bill Clinton. "Microsoft has cooperated fully with every government investigation over the past 10 years," insisted a spokesman. "We have provided over 1.3 million pages of e-mail and other internal documents to the government."

Yes, but what about e-mail they didn't turn over? In her new tell-all book "The Microsoft File," veteran computer journalist Wendy Goldman Rohm claims that executives were similarly uncooperative during an earlier FTC investigation. They failed to provide backup tapes of files that had ostensibly been deleted, says Rohm. Moreover, Gates refused to explain a mysterious handwritten note found in his own files that read simply "purge e-mail." What possible secrets did these communiqués contain? It may not even matter. As Bill Clinton can attest, it's not the act, but the cover-up, that gets you into real trouble.