US & Canada

Sarah Palin e-mails: First details emerge

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Media captionCritics say the e-mails may damage Palin's presidential chances

Details are emerging of Sarah Palin's life as governor of Alaska, following the release of 24,000 pages of her e-mails by officials in the US state.

As well as the mundane matters of political office, the correspondence reveals her frustration over rumours about her family and marriage.

Media organisations applied to see the e-mails in 2008 when she was picked as the Republican running mate.

Mrs Palin is widely viewed as a potential 2012 presidential candidate.

Alaska has released 24,199 printed pages of e-mails covering Mrs Palin's first 21 months as governor - from 2006 until she accepted the vice-presidential nomination.

Praise for Obama

Reporters from a number of news organisations descended on the Alaskan capital of Juneau on Friday to sift through the documents, which were only released in paper form.

Some of the correspondence is written in Mrs Palin's trademark folksy manner. The day after she was plucked from relative obscurity in 2008 for the presidential ticket of Republican nominee John McCain, she wrote to an associate: "Can you flippinbelieveit?!"

The e-mails reveal her irritation at the so-called Troopergate affair, when she was accused of pursuing a vendetta against her sister's ex-husband, an Alaska policeman.

"I do applogize if I sound frustrated w this one. I guess I am. Its killing me to realize how misinformed leggies [legislators], reporter and others are on this issue," she wrote to colleagues.

The state of Alaska's investigation into Troopergate found that Mrs Palin had abused her power by dismissing an official who had refused to sack her former brother-in-law.

In another e-mail, Mrs Palin praises a speech on energy policy made by then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, asking her aides to write a statement "saying he's right on".

Tanning bed

The cache of documents includes examples of how she strived to control her public image.

Image caption Some news organisations have appealed for help from readers to scan the e-mails

Included in the e-mails:

  • Her aide Joe Balash wrote the answers for her to read off a teleprompter in an interview on Alaska's energy policy with a Canadian TV channel. "You're all awesome", she wrote to her team
  • Her frustration with reporters' questions about whether or not she believed in dinosaurs and whether they co-existed with humans
  • Her attempts to link her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, with Bill Allen, an oil company chief executive found guilty of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. "I've asked Frank Bailey to help me track down soem [sic] evidence of past administration's dealing with Bill Allen," she wrote
  • A response in 2008 to a blog post alleging she had had an affair: "I feel like I'm at the breaking point with the hurtful gossip… I hate this part of the job and many days I feel like it's not worth it"
  • A demand in January 2008 to know who had leaked an e-mail, telling a colleague: "Hate to see you or anyone else being accused of purposefully setting me up with it being leaked, but that's what I'm hearing"
  • Her attempts in several e-mails to find the identity of someone who alleged that she had not buckled her son, Trig, properly into his car seat
  • Her frustration over state officials' access to a personal computer in her bedroom at the governor's mansion without her notice, in which she writes: "Who, when, etc conducted this search of my bedroom's computer and the other house computer?"
  • A request to aides to set up a meeting with John McCain's team, several months before he chose Mrs Palin as his running mate
  • An aide suggesting a meeting with Pete Rouse, then chief of staff "for a guy named Barack Obama". "I'm game to meet him," Palin replied.
  • Her attempt to install a tanning bed in the governor's mansion in Juneau

The media have been perusing the heavily redacted documents, with several news organisations seeking help from readers.

The Washington Post appealed for "100 organised and diligent readers" to help reporters get through the e-mails, while the New York Times posted the e-mails on its website.

The authorities withheld nearly 2,300 pages, citing executive privilege and privacy concerns.

The treasurer of Mrs Palin's political action committee said the e-mails showed a "very engaged Governor Sarah Palin being the CEO of her state".

"The e-mails detail a governor hard at work," said Tim Crawford.

'Out of context'

The sheer volume of requests for the documents are said to be the cause for the nearly three-year delay in their release.

Image caption Mrs Palin resigned as Alaska governor midway through her first term

Requests have also been made to release e-mails chronicling Mrs Palin's final 10 months in office. But officials have not yet begun reviewing those requests.

Mrs Palin told Fox News last Sunday that "a lot of those e-mails obviously weren't meant for public consumption", adding that some might take some of the messages "out of context".

Elected governor of Alaska in 2006, Mrs Palin resigned in July 2009 and embarked on a career as a public political figure.

This has included appearances on the Fox News Channel and a reality television programme about her family life in Alaska.

Mrs Palin has a fiercely loyal base among conservative Republicans, but is disdained by many Democrats and liberals.

She has kept political commentators guessing on whether she will declare her candidacy for next year's Republican presidential nomination.

Mrs Palin recently embarked on a tour of national historic sites, with news media in pursuit.

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