Monday, November 12, 2007

Privacy Irony: Individuals vs. Government

Just yesterday the Deputy Director of National Intelligence suggested Americans should redefine privacy to mean "properly safeguarding personal information" by government and businesses. Today, a news report shows the White House cannot safeguard its own e-mails. Despite federal laws requiring the capture and retention of government documents, the White House stopped archiving its e-mail in 2003. Legal proceedings seek to find the status of electronic communications since then.

Being a citizen with nothing to hide, I welcome government review of my e-mails and phone calls. But I get puzzled when the group saying I should be open, wants to close itself off to outside review. If the patriotic citizen should be open and transparent, so should the accountable government.

Yet cutting into the malodorous onion, another layer of irony exists. Suppose the only place the "missing 5 million e-mails" exists is the giant AT&T vacuum cleaner that deposited every citizens e-mail into a huge storage bin? No wonder everyone's scrambling to grant immunity to the telecoms.

Once Congress goes flaccid for the spying Bush administration once again, then recalcitrant George can deny the White House e-mails made it into the hopper before moving quickly to the chipper. W. recycles lies and excuses, if not actual e-mail paper. Open up, George! Leaders model the way...