As he gets ready for his first press conference as president-elect, Barack Obama is obviously going to be focusing on the future--as all of us in the press are, with questions about cabinet appointees and looming crises. Even so, I can't help but thinking about one unpleasant aspect of the present that could use some addressing as the Bush administration winds down: The shredding machines that I assume will soon be running full-time in the offices of possibly legally compromised Bushies.

For political reasons, to avoid looking like a vengeance-seeker, Obama will want to leave next year's retrospective investigating to some superempowered congressional Henry Waxman type. All the same, before the evidece disappears, it'd be nice to hear some sort of transition related statement warning against destroying vital documents, even if it's just a vague and lawyersly promise that "appropriate action" would be taken. I don't imagine such a rhetorical shot across the bow could dissuade Dick Cheney from emptying the contents of his man-sized safe straight into the incinerator, but I think it might put a little fear into whatever underling is charged with the task. The underlings may want to work in government--or simply retain their law licenses--sometime down the road.

--Michael Schaffer