Clinton Docs: A Era of Fax Machines and Paper Airline Tickets


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Cynthia Johnson/Liaison(WASHINGTON) — It’s probably hard to remember a time when you’d send a fax to a colleague rather than an e-mail. Or why you’d pick up a ticket at an airline’s office instead of downloading it to your smart phone or printing it out from your computer.

But yet again, the Clinton documents, a new batch released Friday, are taking us back in time to an era when the ease and convenience of the Internet hadn’t reached its full potential.

The first example is a memo sent to Ira Magaziner, a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton on policy development, via fax.

“Ira: I tried to reach you by phone Friday, but to no avail, so I’ll send this along via fax,” Drew Quinn, who was based at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, wrote in a memo in 1997.

Up next, instructions for Magaziner to pick up his airline tickets at a United Airline’s office in downtown Washington, D.C., a thought which probably wouldn’t even cross our minds in today’s smartphone-friendly world.

“Ticket arrangements are complicated but manageable. The drawback is that only Ira — not you, or Nikkei staff in DC — can pick the ticket up from United. He could either do that at the United office at 16th and K Streets, or at the airport just prior to departure. Let me know his preference so American Express knows where to (electronically) send the ticket,” Quinn wrote.

These memos were included in a batch of documents about — wait for it — expanding e-commerce and the Internet.

Last month, the first batch of Clinton documents revealed the Clinton administration’s newfound discovery of “Internet” and how then-First Lady Hillary Clinton could use the medium to reach out to young women.

“Internet has become a very popular mode of communication. Hillary could speak to young women through Internet. I think Hillary would have fun with this, and I believe it would: not be too difficult to organize.  We could invite women’s media (ie. the women’s magazines) in to watch her do such an event. It would make for a nice story in a women’s magazine,” the 1995 memo from Maggie Williams, chief of staff to HRC, to Lisa Caputo, the first lady’s press secretary, read.

The memo continued: “In addition, People magazine is tinkering with the possibility of using Internet. They have been in touch with me about the prospect of having Hillary communicate with parents across the country about children and families through Internet. They would then run the transcript in the magazine. This could be a really nice idea. They are still in the research stage and I am waiting to hear back from them.”

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