FLASHBACK, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: “We Record Everything In Here”

The Washington Post: In 2012, journalist Mark Bowden gave a talk at the Pritzker Military Museum in Chicago about his new book, “The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden.” As part of the research for that book, Bowden spent 90 minutes interviewing President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The interview went well — until it didn’t.


  1. “As I stood up to say goodbye to the president, I looked down and my tape recorder had died. … That thing had always worked like a charm but there it was, just as dead as a nut on the table. So I said my goodbyes and as I was walking out of the Oval Office with Ben Rhodes, I said, ‘Ben, you’re not going to believe this, but my recorder died in the middle of that somewhere.’”

    “‘Ah don’t worry about it,’ he says, ‘we record everything in here. We’ll get you a transcript before you leave.’ And he did.”

That anecdote speaks volumes about the subject at hand: A recorded, transcribed conversation that was apparently conducted without the subject knowing.

Excerpted From Selfish Citizenship: Like Nixon, LBJ, and Kennedy before him, President Obama has been recording Oval Office conversations. In my judgment, this is a good practice and a credit to the President.

Mark Bowden (author of Black Hawk Down and The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden) disclosed this fact during a 12/12/2012 speech at the Pritzker Military Library.

Bowden interviewed President Obama in the Oval Office for writing his book on the killing of bin Laden. Unfortunately, Bowden’s tape recorder malfunctioned so the interview appeared to be at least partially lost. While leaving the Oval Office, Bowden lamented the malfunction and was told by Ben Rhodes (probably a reference to the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication) not to worry because “We record everything in here.” Subsequently, Rhodes provided Bowden a full transcript of his interview with the President.

The only negative I see in Bowden’s account is that the White House is recording these conversations without disclosure to all the participants. So consider yourself warned, when you speak with President Obama, you are speaking to all American citizens, both present and future. Keep reading...