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Senate panel's GOP staff pried on Democrats
Posted by: stephentyrone 10:51am, Thursday, 22 January 2004
I think something about this was posted earlier; evidently republican staffers have been accessing democratic memos on a server that they shouldn't have had access to.
As the extent to which Democratic communications were monitored came into sharper focus, Republicans yesterday offered a new defense. They said that in the summer of 2002, their computer technician informed his Democratic counterpart of the glitch, but Democrats did nothing to fix the problem.
stephentyrone says: what astounds me is that both the republicans and the press seem to rationalize this and treat it as a defensible practice, just an escalation of "partisan bickering". were i a senate republican, any staffer responsible would be out on their ass.

on the other hand, it also astounds me that pat leahy could hire someone so incompetent to do IT (though at least incompetence is legal). maybe it was former gov. snelling's nephew, the same kid i lost out that senate page job to in 8th grade... :?P.

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This is pretty much my reaction:
Posted by: James 1:43pm, Sunday, 25 January 2004

I think that journalists in general rely way too much on leaked information, and encourage this bad behavior (snooping). But it's interesting that when info is leaked that is embarassing to the GOP, it gets huge play and no one questions the process. On the other hand when info implicating Dems is leaked, the press gives them a total pass and the only story is: who would be so partisan as to leak this info?

this is a bit of a simplification
Posted by: stephentyrone 2:17pm, Sunday, 25 January 2004
it's true that the memos weren't password protected; they were supposed to be, but some IT guy screwed up. to me that doesn't change anything. if i'm a senate staffer and i don't lock my door, does that make it ok for you to go into my office and leak my memos to the press? of course not.

and that's not even as extreme as this case; this is more like: i thought i was locking my door, but it turns out that if you bump the knob in the right way, the door opens anyway. under my understanding of federal hacking laws, the staffers in question could be convicted of felonies, despite the fact that no real "hacking" was involved.

it's really not a legal question though; it's a "how-can-you-be-so-stupid-as-to-think-that's-ok" question. i really am shocked that the staffers in question weren't fired months ago, or at least severly and publicly reprimanded.

as for the content of the memos, i don't think it's that damning. we all know that what those memos point to is pretty much business-as-usual in washington, that (almost) every politician responds to some interest group, etc. the use of the term "nazi" doesn't surprise me either; i'm sure that republican staffers call ted kennedy "comrade lenin" in the memos or something of that sort (what does bush call him? i'm curious), never mind what they must call bernie sanders. memos that are to be read by a closed group are just that; not official policy statements, and as such they need not be written in language that's intended for public consumption. should we be shocked that political memos are - gasp - political?

bottom line: i don't think that this info is embarrasing to the dems, and it did get play anyway. when damning info on the GOP is leaked, it also gets play. the source hasn't gotten play because (so far) there's been no info that the source was nearly as unsavory (and illegal) as in this case; if there was, the republicans would be stupid not to investigate, just like the democrats did.

This isn't a policy or political issue, this is an ethical and criminal issue. Treat it as such.

(no subject)
Posted by: Dave 8:59pm, Sunday, 25 January 2004
On the legal angle I think you are quite right. Ethically, I believe the privacy of political parties is against the public interest and that forbidding political parties from keeping information secret would be a good idea.

By the way, is there anyone else who thinks that the person who wrote "staff pried on Democrats" doesn't know why "pry" means?

Posted by: stephentyrone 12:48pm, Monday, 26 January 2004
... ethically, i believe that the existence of political parties is against the public interest, but that's a bit of a thorny issue there. whether or not they should have privacy rights is an interesting question, and one that i haven't really thought about. why do you think that they shouldn't?

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