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The Ridiculous LexisNexis Search that the Justice Department Used

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the your-government-ruining-america dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 589

jamie writes "The politicization of Bush's Justice Department, which this week was officially determined to be illegal, has a funny side too. Sometime in 2005-2006, White House Liaison Jan Williams attended a seminar on LexisNexis searches, and wrote one herself. When she left, she passed it on to her successor Monica Goodling in an email. Justin Mason, author of SpamAssassin, is skeptical about its accuracy:

[First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

Needless to say, when asked about it, Williams first said she didn't remember ever seeing it, then said she'd used an edited version just once. LexisNexis records show she used it, as shown, 25 times." Note that 'sex!' appears twice in the query. Must be VERY important.

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spotted owl? (4, Funny)

Carthag (643047) | about 6 years ago | (#24402157)

what the hell

Re:spotted owl? (5, Funny)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | about 6 years ago | (#24402231)

Spotted Owl Party members are among the most dangerous people to have in the DOJ. If allowed into the DOJ, they will do everything in their power to preserve the environment and wellbeing of this bird, no matter what the financial or human cost.

Re:spotted owl? (2, Funny)

Carthag (643047) | about 6 years ago | (#24402631)

So kinda like in the best-selling thrille "The Spotted Owl Brief"?

Re:spotted owl? (4, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | about 6 years ago | (#24402233)

George Bush criticiz nafta for spotted owl gay sex with firearms

Re:spotted owl? (4, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 6 years ago | (#24402353)

Can't be too careful. What if there was an article in the Times about Iran using aborted, homosexual, spotted owls to smuggle WMD in a plot to cover up Enron? You'd look silly if you weren't "in the know"

Re:spotted owl? (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 6 years ago | (#24402621)

It's a hippy litmus test. The Owl thing was something they used to pin on Gore, so if someone shows up in a newspaper article, with a mention of a "spotted owl" then there is some hippy crap going down.

Or, of course, the person could be using the term themselves to paint someone else as a hippy.

Re:spotted owl? (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24402693)

Not really surprising. Spotted owls are notoriously poor prosecutors. They also have a well-known bias against rats and other vermin, making them unsuitable for political work.

The spotted owl is a shibboleth. (5, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | about 6 years ago | (#24402771)

what the hell

It's a Shibboleth [wikipedia.org] . Something that you can use to guess at another person's social/regional/political origin.

Back in 1992 [nytimes.com] , there was a plan to log some forest. Republicans liked the idea of logging. Democrats didn't like the idea of logging.

Democrats went with environmentalism -- the notion that a risk to 50 of the 500-odd remaining spotted owls in existence outweighed the commercial interests of the loggers -- as their means of obsctructing the Republicans' goals.

Republicans went with the commercial argument -- "preposterous to forego millions of dollars in revenue over 50 spotted owls!" -- as their means of embarassing the Democrats.

The spotted owl became a shibboleth. Anyone who said "save the endangered owls!" was likely to be a Democrat, and anyone who said "to hell with the owls!" was a Democrat.

Many of the things in that list are shibboleths from the Clinton era. If you followed events such as Iran-Contra (a scandal embarassing to the Republicans), the spotted owl (a shibboleth for environmentalism), the recounts in Florida (which could have only benefited the Democrats), or worked (or ruled) on cases involving other politically-loaded wedge issues -- whether economic ones like NAFTA, outsourcing, and Enron, or sociolopolitical ones like racism, sexism, abortion, homosexuality, and gun ownership -- you had political opinions.

This query wasn't designed to figure out what those opinions were, but it would be a very clear way listing all the times someone identified their political stance by using a political shibboleth within seven words of the name of either Presidential candidate:

"John Doe accused Al Gore of placing the interests of the spotted owl above the legitimate interests of the taxpayers" -> John Doe is almost certainly a Republican.

"Jane Doe suggested Al Gore wasn't doing enough to protect the spotted owl" -> Jane Doe is almost certainly a Democrat.

The spotted owl is a particularly effective shibboleth; most of us have opinions about gun ownership, NAFTA, or Enron that don't necessarily dermine how we vote. But the spotted owl was a manufactured controversy; outside of birdwatchers, very few people knew or cared about the spotted owl until it became the center of a political debate.

Modern-day shibboleths include "homicide bombers" or "the Democrat party" (phrases used only Republicans), or "big business / big health care / big pharma" or "multinational corporations", or "neocons" (which are phrases used almost exclusively by Democrats.)

Re:The spotted owl is a shibboleth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402805)

The spotted owl became a shibboleth. Anyone who said "save the endangered owls!" was likely to be a Democrat, and anyone who said "to hell with the owls!" was a Democrat.

Umm, anyone who said "to hell with the owls!" was a Republican, not a Democrat. Serves me right for not previewing :)

Analysis, please (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about 6 years ago | (#24402167)

If I read this query right, this thing would practically dump the entire LexisNexis database (at least, all of the interesting cases).

Re:Analysis, please (3, Informative)

SeePage87 (923251) | about 6 years ago | (#24402507)

You're not reading it right. It only drops anything that matches one of those results that's within 7 words of the name of the candidate. An article just on sex won't get picked up unless it also mentions the candidate by name.

Oblig. Life of Brian (4, Funny)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#24402171)

"Sex, sex, sex, that's all they think about!"

Re:Oblig. Life of Brian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402255)

Do I have a big nose, mum?

Re:Oblig. Life of Brian (1)

The Assistant (1162547) | about 6 years ago | (#24402585)

The search only looked for sex twice, as quoted in the story.

You reference insinuated that they looked for it three times!!!!

Was this an oversite, or were they required to go to a street corner after running this to search for sex a third time?

Re:Oblig. Life of Brian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402655)

I don't know about OP but you sure had oversite, - er oversight that is - in the reply.

Re:Oblig. Life of Brian (4, Funny)

pla (258480) | about 6 years ago | (#24402709)

"Sex, sex, sex, that's all they think about!"

Well, in fairness, "arrest" and "intox" also appear twice... So they also care about getting drunk and enjoying a bit of the ol' ultraviolence...

LexisNexis Search? (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 years ago | (#24402181)

What the hell?

(Okay I'm gonna research it now)

Re:LexisNexis Search? (5, Informative)

Bryansix (761547) | about 6 years ago | (#24402397)

It is THE most powerful database of public records and sometimes not-so public records in the entire world. You can start with a name and city and match a person and get social, dob, city of birth, all their criminal and civil cases, any citations including speeding tickets, any mention of them in other criminal or civil cases, news articles, legal findings etc. etc. etc.

Needless to say it is very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Re:LexisNexis Search? (5, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 6 years ago | (#24402587)

Indeed. Our Sheriff's department uses it (along with other services by the same company), and it's downright scary the ammount of stuff they can pull.

Want all the blue and gray SUV's that have a 9 and an F within a 100 mile radius of a given location? It can pull that up. Want to find out if a particular person has ANY connection to the owner of that vehicle. It can do that. As a demonstration it was able to connect our sherrif to a woman that his wife had been roomates with over 20 years ago (before they were even married).

It was astonishing how much information it could coordinate on any person in the room that we plugged into it.

Also was tied into the sex offenders database. If you wanted to narrow that search for the blue/gray SUV earlier down to sexual offenders within a certain radius that owned or were associated with the owner of such a vehicle, then it could do that.

What's scary is that some level of this functionality is available to whoever wants to pay for it (afterall, most of the information is just public records correlated into a massive database). Law enforcement and such agencies do get more access (for instance, the ability to pull up social security numbers), but the average person with deep pockets could still get a hell of a lot of information for it. They do TRY to be secure with the LEO-only portions though.

Re:LexisNexis Search? (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 6 years ago | (#24402723)

They do TRY to be secure with the LEO-only portions though.

So, if you're beyond a Low Earth Orbit, you're safe?

Re:LexisNexis Search? (3, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#24402927)

They do TRY to be secure with the LEO-only portions though.

So, if you're beyond a Low Earth Orbit, you're safe?

Law Enforcement Officer, but I like your sense of humor.

I would have also laughed if you took it as limiting access based on astrological sign.

Yes, you hate George Bush ... (-1, Flamebait)

Syncerus (213609) | about 6 years ago | (#24402199)

Get over it. He'll be gone in six months.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (4, Insightful)

Joeyspecial (740731) | about 6 years ago | (#24402265)

But the damage he's done will remain for much longer.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (3, Insightful)

fictionpuss (1136565) | about 6 years ago | (#24402361)

Plus, whatever he decides to do in the last few days of his administration. Let's hope he only limits himself to the typical last-minute pardoning spree.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 years ago | (#24402389)

Don't forget, the Democrats (and Republicans) in the House and Senate are just as complacent in whatever damage has been done, by allowing it to continue and contributing their own malfeasance.

If the Ds really didn't want a war in Iraq, they shouldn't have given Bush the piece of paper authorizing military action.

GWB isn't any more evil than Pelosi and crew! The whole bunch is corrupt! So until you stop voting for the Republicrats, you get what you deserve.

Mod up! (0)

PadRacerExtreme (1006033) | about 6 years ago | (#24402461)

And my mod points expired this morning :(

You seem to lack perspective here (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24402583)

Sorry, that argument doesn't fly. Yes, the House and Senate are somewhat complicit, and everyone loves a good 'Republocrat' joke, but there is a HUGE difference between the two parties. Don't forget, the Democrats do not have an overwhelming majority in either house, and Republicans can win if they just filibuster.

Bush and company are qualitatively different from other politicians. It isn't just a matter of the amount of corruption. It is the type of corruption and the unmitigated, "What are you gonna do about it? hur hur hur," GALL of these criminal clowns.

Stealing a pack of gum and robbing a bank at gunpoint are both crimes. That does not mean they are both equally serious.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (5, Insightful)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 6 years ago | (#24402745)

Yes, the House and Senate are somewhat complicit

Is that like being somewhat pregnant?

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402905)

There are varying degrees of complicity. As there are varying degrees that one can be involved with the crime or varying degrees of guilt, etc.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24402921)

No, that is like being somewhat sick, or somewhat poor. There is a huge difference between the actions of the President and his band of thieves, and the minimally Democratic House and Senate.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (3, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 years ago | (#24402881)

Funny, that's the exact same thing conservatives were saying regarding Clinton regarding his illegal wars, bombings on negative news days, illegal fund-raising and secrets traded to China, breach of U.S. citizens rights to fair trials, and more...

So really, sorry, I have to concur with the idea that the politicians (both in the White House and the Big House) are just corrupt, scoundrels almost all of a similar coin.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24403019)

Even if all those stories are true, which they aren't, you can't excuse corruption by pointing to corruption. This isn't a game, son, this is our country and our rights. And blanket cynicism is even more pointless and harmful to our nation.

You seem to want everyone to believe that all politicians are equally corrupt. This is a disservice to your country, and a transparent attempt to excuse great crimes by pointing to petty misdemeanors.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (2, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | about 6 years ago | (#24402965)

but there is a HUGE difference between the two parties

No, there isn't.

Both are interested in increasing the power and reach of government, just in different directions.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402993)

Well, which is worse: the administration that does all that shit or the people who let them get away with it?

Bush and his cronies may be a bunch of thugs, but the Democrats haven't done jack shit about it except writing "sternly worded" letters and declaring their opposition to FISA before voting in favor of it.

Re:You seem to lack perspective here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24403011)

Please,

The Dems aren't know as the obstruction party for nothing.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24402991)

I dislike this argument not only because it's used in virtually every political discussion on Slashdot, but also because it appears to be designed to encourage complicity. Sure, the argument states that change is just as simple as deciding to vote for some third party, but all of the existing third parties tend to only appeal to a very limited fringe group, so that's really no solution at all.

So, dismissing the idea that simply voting for a third party will change everything as realistically unfeasible, we're left with the central part of the argument, which is that both parties suck, so you might as well just throw up your hands and do whatever you've been doing. Neither party will ever change anything, the argument goes, so just vote for whoever you've always voted for and go on with life. Of course, this argument is designed to assure the current party in power stays in power.

However, it contradicts actual reality. It's possible, given their complicity in GWB's antics, even probable, that the Democrats would not be any better if they took power. However, the evidence we currently have is that while Bush has actively sought to come up with new ideas to destroy the country, the Democrats are responsible only for allowing it to happen. Yes, passively allowing someone else to screw everything up is a bad thing, but is it really just as bad as actively screwing things up? Isn't it at least possible that the Democrats might screw things up less if allowed to implement their own ideas rather than just being content to allow someone else to implement his ideas?

In reality, what we have now is the fact that Bush and his cronies have done a monumentally shitty job. We also have a theory that the Democrats would do an equally shitty job. You seem to be content to stay with the people in power because a shitty job will be done either way. I, on the other hand, would rather not reward a shitty job with more time in power, and would instead rather give the other party a chance to prove they are capable of doing a less shitty job.

An individual's best bet for political change these days remains to pick the party that most closely aligns with them and attempt to change it from the inside (a difficult and time-consuming task to be sure). Simply voting for the Loony Toon Party, knowing that it will never get more than 3% of the vote, is just not a practical solution.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402421)

And how does this differ from any other president?

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (3, Informative)

Joeyspecial (740731) | about 6 years ago | (#24402499)

The massive spending spree, the total ignoring of the constitution, lying to go to war, outing undercover agents (aka treason), just to name a few.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402535)

But the damage he's done will remain for much longer.

One reason I supported Obama over Clinton is that I was afraid of what Clinton would do with the power Bush's successor will inherit. I'm not too keen on Obama holding that insane amount of power but anyone's better than Bush I guess.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402939)

According to the Vanity Fair article "The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush" [December 2007] (1):

"our grandchildren will still be living with, and struggling with, the economic consequences of Mr. Bush."

And, I believe it will be longer than that due to the stated facts in said article.

(1) http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/12/bush200712

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24402339)

Why would you bother writing such an inane and senseless post? Why does the fact that Bush will be gone in six months mean we have to stop talking about the crimes he and his administration committed? There is a reason we hate him, and it isn't just because he's a stupid, self obsessed, spoiled frat boy who somehow fooled the nation into voting for him twice. We hate him because he has tried to take away our rights.

You know, defending the man at this point is pretty much an admission that not only did you vote for him, twice, but you are too proud to admit you screwed up.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 6 years ago | (#24402593)

You know, defending the man at this point is pretty much an admission that not only did you vote for him, twice, but you are too proud to admit you screwed up.
This Nietzsche quote seems apt, "At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid."

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (1)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24402695)

What is insipid about people wanting some accountability from their president? Oh, you meant "insipid" as in "doesn't agree with me." Here's a quote from me that seems even more apt: "At times idiots remain faithful to a cause only because they can not admit that people they don't like were right."

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (0)

ptbarnett (159784) | about 6 years ago | (#24402639)

Why would you bother writing such an inane and senseless post? Why does the fact that Bush will be gone in six months mean we have to stop talking about the crimes he and his administration committed? There is a reason we hate him, and it isn't just because he's a stupid, self obsessed, spoiled frat boy who somehow fooled the nation into voting for him twice. We hate him because he has tried to take away our rights.

For eight years, most that dared to criticize Bill Clinton (the person, his policies, or his actions) were summarily dismissed as "Clinton haters". It shouldn't be a surprise that after the roles are reversed, anyone doing the same to Bush is diagnosed with "Bush Derangement Syndrome [wikipedia.org] ". It's the nature of partisan politics -- get used to it.

You know, defending the man at this point is pretty much an admission that not only did you vote for him, twice, but you are too proud to admit you screwed up.

You are projecting someone else onto the grandparent. He correctly pointed out that Bush will be gone soon. "Get over it" isn't a defense of anyone or anything -- it's simply a suggestion to move on [moveon.org] .

But, don't delude yourself into thinking that any prior or future administration didn't or won't do the same thing. They will just be less blatant about it, or at least not stupid enough to not leave evidence of it lying around.

You aren't being sensible here (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#24402857)

Okay, first, there was a huge concerted attack by the right wing against Clinton for the most minor of offenses. It wasn't 'dismissed,' the man was IMPEACHED. Why hasn't Bush been impeached? We will move on when there is at least the same level of justice for Bush.

Second, your cynicism is disgusting. You can't excuse one wrong act by pointing that others have done lesser evils. Wrong is wrong and it is never right to pressure people into shutting up about it.

Third, the GP wanted this story gone. He wanted us to stop talking about the crimes committed by this administration. The justice department engaged in criminal and unethical behavior, and he obviously doesn't want that talked about.

Finally, no, sorry, no past administration has ever been this blatant in apply purity tests to career hires rather than political appointees. And unless people like you get their way and this is all swept under the rug, then future administrations will have even less of a chance of doing it.

It really sounds as if you'd love it if everyone would just shut up and let ourselves get fucked over by the powerful. Not gonna happen, sorry.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (1)

pla (258480) | about 6 years ago | (#24402793)

Why does the fact that Bush will be gone in six months mean we have to stop talking about the crimes he and his administration committed?

It doesn't, and I fully hope to keep hearing about him after Obama obliterates McBush (no, I don't really like Obama, just stating the obvious)...

Specifically, I don't want to hear about an impeachment that will never happen, I want to hear about actual federal charges relating to racketeering, election fraud, and lying to congress. Ideally I'd like to see him hauled before the Hague for human rights abuses, but I'll settle for Bush sharing a cell with his new top, Bubba.


He hasn't just destroyed our international image and our economy by ineptness, he has outright broken both US and international law.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 6 years ago | (#24402809)

I suspect that a number of Bush loyalists truly believe that he's a great president and that what he's doing to our rights &c is /right/.

I can't get into the headspace of that sort of person, but I can easily see people who "think" like that.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#24403017)

We might learn a lesson from this. Like, if you find out the day before the election that a Presidential candidate has a conviction for drunk driving, vote against him. Not because he's a reformed alcoholic or even a reformed cokehead, not becaue he was driving drunk, not because he was a criminal, but because he hid that fact from the American people.

Re:Yes, you hate George Bush ... (4, Insightful)

Bearpaw (13080) | about 6 years ago | (#24402739)

Get over it. He'll be gone in six months.

Because, after all, the only reason to disagree with any of the things he and his cohorts have done is irrational hatred. It has nothing to do with subverting the Constitution he swore to protect, failing to prevent a major terrorist attack despite warnings, unapologetic law-breaking, stove-piping intelligence to justify a war of aggression and an occupation that's trashing our armed forces and our economy, gutting the balance of powers, alienating long-time allies, making the tax burden even more regressive, hamstringing prosecution of marketplace abuses, blatantly politicizing the Justice Department, rewriting science in the name of ideology, or any other similarly whiny little complaint.

Nope, those things are all just shallow excuses. It's all about the hate.

Translate please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402201)

Can someone tell me what a LexisNexis search is and why I care?

Re:Translate please? (3, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 years ago | (#24402251)

A service that provides online legal and business information. LEXIS was the first full-text information service for the legal profession. NEXIS provides the archives of The New York Times as well as Wall Street industry analysis, public records, tax information, political analysis, SEC filings and more. See online services.

http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=LEXIS-NEXIS&i=46050,00.asp [pcmag.com]

Not that I'd expect you to know, I didn't know either.

Re:Translate please? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 6 years ago | (#24402399)

If you had friends in college who were business majors, you'd know what LEXIS-NEXIS was. I did. That's pretty much the only work they did aside from creating power point presentations.

Re:Translate please? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402319)

Can someone tell me what a LexisNexis search is

Wikipedia can. Do you know what Wikipedia is? If not, look it up on Wikipedia.

LexisNexis Search for Bush's Presidency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402227)

Fucking ridiculous! and irreversible and damaging and embarrassing or polar bear!

They forgot.. (1)

ryen (684684) | about 6 years ago | (#24402241)

goatse!

Re:They forgot.. (3, Insightful)

stuntmanmike (1289094) | about 6 years ago | (#24402445)

You don't search for goatse. goatse finds you.

TFS Blows, TFA Is About Hiring Practices (5, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 6 years ago | (#24402287)

For those of you wondering what that query is about and what it's being used for, here's TFA:

Via b1ff.org, here's the Nexis search that US Department of Justice White House liaisons ran on job candidates to determine their political leanings:[Emphasis mine]

So there you go. The Justice Department was using a screwy LexisNexis query to try to determine the political leanings and affiliations of people they were looking to hire, because they were illegally filtering out applications people (non-repubs/conservatives) based on their political affiliations.

You really should drink more coffee in the morning before you start posting, Taco.

Re:TFS Blows, TFA Is About Hiring Practices (4, Interesting)

griffjon (14945) | about 6 years ago | (#24402451)

Dropping Monica Goodling into that query returns 653 results in the last 2 years.

Re:TFS Blows, TFA Is About Hiring Practices (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 6 years ago | (#24402763)

illegally filtering out applications people (non-repubs/conservatives) based on their political affiliations.

Reading some other articles about this, it appears that was not the full extent. They were even excluding Republicans and conservatives that weren't Republican or conservative enough for them. Basically people that they thought would not make loyal "Bushies".

It also appears that experience was not as highly evaluated as political considerations. One cited example of the was a well regarded senior prosecutor with counterterrorism experience was passed over for a junior attorney with no experience for a counterterrorism post just because the senior prosecutor's wife was a Democrat.

Re:TFS Blows, TFA Is About Hiring Practices (0)

huckamania (533052) | about 6 years ago | (#24402777)

I don't think this proves anything and the article is overly sensational. Any hiring manager anywhere should and could run a background check. That is just common sense. Searching for this term or that term with a persons name doesn't prove that there was an automatic decision made from the results.

These were supposed to be non-political jobs. If the applicant is a hard-core democrat or republican (which were both terms searched for), that should be a factor in their consideration. See how that cuts both ways. This is not a smoking gun, in and of itself.

I find it tragic that in the same news cycle that (R) Sen. Ted Stevens is indicted that we still have morons saying that Bush politicized the Justice Department. It spits in the face of reality and brings nothing but feelings of pity for all the deluded idiots that inhabit the inter-tubes.

Re:TFS Blows, TFA Is About Hiring Practices (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 6 years ago | (#24403025)

or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

Maybe you missed these parts...
I think they were looking for people who have never ever posted anything on an internet forum. Hey! That would explain a lot of things !

And who wouldn't... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 6 years ago | (#24402967)

Let's be honest...this is politics.

Like the Bush administration is going to want to place someone in a position that is an absolute raving Bush hater like many on here. Um no thanks...not good for productivity, and not good for office peace.

It's also why when each administration changes thousands find themselves looking for new jobs. When Obama comes on, rest assured he will not be hiring candidates that are conservative believe in fiscal responsiblity, reduced government, etc.

Look at all that wasted space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402303)

Lexis Nexis should adopt regular expressions.

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402327)

So what you do is insert the name of a candidate, and it searches for everything listed in that paragraph (if it can even really be called that.) assuming that ! is generally the same as and/+ in regular search engines. (moderately confused, sorry if the post is a bit jumbled on thinking.)

Re:Wait... (2, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | about 6 years ago | (#24402813)

I assumed ! to be a wildcard, so sex! would match sex or sexual or sexually or sexist or sexism or sexy.

Re:Wait... (2, Informative)

Greenmoon (656273) | about 6 years ago | (#24402979)

I've never used LexisNexis, but the "!" seems to be a 'zero to many' length wildcard character, not an "and". It allows fragments like "blam!" to find words like "blame", "blamed", "blaming", etc.

So, it seems like you would enter the job candidate's name and it would find all instances of that person being mentioned in an article in the LN DB with any of those keywords/fragments.

Limited regular expression functionality.

Some of the items are valid for a job candidate review, like "arrest!", "fired", and "intox!"; but it's telling that they are listed after stuff like "bush", "democrat", and "spotted owl". So you see what the priority of the author was.

It's also a pretty sloppy search, given all the useless repetition.

Lexis Nexis should adopt regular expressions! (0, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | about 6 years ago | (#24402357)

or slashdot troll! or rob malda! or suxor! or coxor!

=Smidge=

OK, a translation (1)

Coopjust (872796) | about 6 years ago | (#24402383)

OK, a look at the search:

[first name of a candidate] and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

So it looks like the search looks for variations of any of the words that I've bolded(controvers! would cover controversy, controversies, controversial, etc.) within 7 words of the person named at the start of the search. It's ridiculous, and is a very broad way of searching that would yield a lot of false positives.

Re:OK, a translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402523)

So broad that it would flag either Republicans or Democrats. A broad reading of this admittedly screwy query would be, "Is this person politically active, as flagged by politically sensitive hot-button topics or definite political affiliations appearing within 7 words of their name?"

Note for the record I am strongly opposed to the use of political considerations being used as selection criteria for public service positions, but the query, as I read it, is just what I describe above.

Re:OK, a translation (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 6 years ago | (#24402731)

it's not about finding if they've written anything containing those. It's about narrowing the work related to them containing terms that are politically sensitive to read. if something crops up that indicates a liberal or non-neoconservative, and poof, that's the evidence they use, not just whether there are results.

Re:OK, a translation (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#24403023)

So it looks like the search looks for variations of any of the words ... within 7 words of the person named at the start of the search.

So it finds Kevin Bacon?

I don't understand... (3, Insightful)

rilian4 (591569) | about 6 years ago | (#24402391)

Why shouldn't an administration be able to hire people on their side of the political fence? Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me with a straight face that President Clinton's administration didn't weed out conservatives from executive branch jobs? I can understand certain things such as race or gender being illegal to use as hiring factors but I would assume that a given administration would not want to hire attorneys who hate everything that administration stands for, whether the administration is conservative, liberal or anything in between.

Re:I don't understand... (5, Insightful)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | about 6 years ago | (#24402459)

This is the Department of Justice. It's supposed to be a neutral, non-partisan organization. Any overt partisan involvement should be a cause for alarm.

Re:I don't understand... (1)

bhirsch (785803) | about 6 years ago | (#24402617)

I think his point is that the DOJ has always been quite partisan. Gonzales just sounds like a bit of a halfwit.

Re:I don't understand... (5, Insightful)

jamie (78724) | about 6 years ago | (#24402487)

Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me with a straight face that President Clinton's administration didn't weed out conservatives from executive branch jobs?

Yes, of course -- since it is illegal to take political views into consideration for certain kinds of career non-political jobs. Federal law is very clear on this. Read the PDF linked in the story for more information.

Re:I don't understand... (5, Informative)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 6 years ago | (#24402515)

First and foremost, because it's illegal.

But there are two types of nominations in the DoJ: "Career" & "Political". Political appointments are indeed open to scrutiny of political affiliation, but are temporary and remain active only until a change of administration. Career posts are normal jobs, and those people are supposed to be more neutral. Filtering people for Career jobs based on political affiliations is illegal. The issue coming to light now is that Bush administration officials used the same questionnaires and methods for both types of posts.

Re:I don't understand... (4, Informative)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 6 years ago | (#24402561)

In the civil service, there is a clear line between "professionals" and "political appointees". The idea being, while the head of the justice department, and probably most of his deputies, change every administration, the people who actually understand the inner workings stay on.
If the search is used to vest someone's political position for a "political appointee" position, that's fine. If it's used the screen "technical/professional" candidates it's probably a violation of civil service provisions and most likely some statutes.

Because It's Illegal (5, Interesting)

EgoWumpus (638704) | about 6 years ago | (#24402581)

There are certain high level posts in the various executive branch agencies that are tagged 'political appointments'. These jobs, which steer those agencies, can be determined based on politics.

For everything else, such discrimination is illegal. It is assumed, by the law, that people are professional enough to do their job regardless of who is in charge - and anyway, they can be fired if they intentionally sabotage the agency without legal cause.

Only recently, since the Neocons took over, has it even been an issue that 'attorneys hate' the people they work for. I mean, really, is such harsh language remotely accurate? Or is it being used as a boogie man in order to make an end-run around very wise laws; laws that prevent the government from swinging to extremes with every change in the administration.

(And lets not even bring up the fiscal nightmare it must be if agencies have to rehire everyone every eight years...)

Now, with my straight face: Clinton did NOT weed out conservatives from executive branch jobs. He in fact explicitly hired many people across the aisle, for better or for worse. The idea that you never hire people who disagree with you is one that has only seen it's heyday in the last eight years. It's actually often a very good idea.

Re:I don't understand... (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 years ago | (#24402653)


Why shouldn't an administration be able to hire people on their side of the political fence?

Because it's illegal to do so for these types of Justice department jobs (and rightly so).

Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me with a straight face that President Clinton's administration didn't weed out conservatives from executive branch jobs?

For prosecutors in the justice department? I'll tell you that with a very straight face unless you can show otherwise. Everything I've read says this just doesn't happen for these kinds of appointees. The fired prosecutors were shocked to be fired for political reasons.

but I would assume that a given administration would not want to hire attorneys who hate everything that administration stands for, whether the administration is conservative, liberal or anything in between.

I find that a very strange attitude. Criminal prosecutions (which is what the Justice department does) shouldn't have a political slant to it. I'd hope you'd agree that that would be a horrible horrible thing no matter who was doing it. There's a reason why the image representing justice (the one holding the scales) is blindfolded.

Classic Republican defense (2, Insightful)

Hench3 (946011) | about 6 years ago | (#24402659)

Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me with a straight face that President Clinton's administration didn't weed out conservatives from executive branch jobs?

But... but Clinton!! *rolls eyes*

The fact that Clinton did it does NOT excuse the current administration. Both administrations are wrong for doing it. It's not a matter of who did it first. The fact someone else got away with it is not a permission to do it yourself.

Re:Classic Republican defense (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | about 6 years ago | (#24402867)

Pretty much. And GP didn't post a citation of Clinton doing anything of the sort. I'd be personally surprised if he did, though; surely there'd have been a scandal, since Congress was owned by the GOP through most of his term.

I've argued with people who blew smoke and pretended ignorance about the difference between Clinton firing political appointees and what Bush does with careerists. I have a hard time deciding if they're trolling or they're truly that half-witted.

Re:I don't understand... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402667)

How the fuck did this get modded insightful?

Re:I don't understand... (1)

mgblst (80109) | about 6 years ago | (#24402741)

Haven't you seen the West Wing, they deliberately hired a Republican. Ainsley Hayes.

Search example shows need for librarians (1)

bibliotek (238941) | about 6 years ago | (#24402403)

Not commenting on the back story of why she was searching in the first place, but if she had used a librarian who knew the correct method of searching that database, she would have located the information she was looking for.

For the uninitiated like myself... (4, Informative)

Foolicious (895952) | about 6 years ago | (#24402419)

Wikipedia:

"LexisNexis (sometimes simply called "Lexis" or "Nexis" among users) is a popular searchable archive of content from newspapers, magazines, legal documents and other printed sources. LexisNexis claims to be the "worldâ(TM)s largest collection of public records, unpublished opinions, forms, legal, news, and business information" while offering their products to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting and academic markets."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LexisNexis [wikipedia.org]

They used Lexis to do a form of background search on people. They used the information from these searches to decide who to hire. The DOJ said the way they did this is federally illegal and also against DOJ policy.

And if you're an actual RTFAer, here you go: http://www.usdoj.gov/opr/goodling072408.pdf [usdoj.gov]

Re:For the uninitiated like myself... (1)

elguillelmo (1242866) | about 6 years ago | (#24402781)

Oh, damn, I thought the post was about LexisNexis&Plexis by Henry Miller!

Appearing twice... (1)

dirkbaztard (1297993) | about 6 years ago | (#24402435)

Note that 'sex!' appears twice in the query. Must be VERY important. As do fired, racis!, arrest!, intox! and contravers! A fine example of a GIGO query.

Re:Appearing twice... (2, Informative)

proverbialcow (177020) | about 6 years ago | (#24402613)

I've never used LexisNexis, but it appears the '!' is a wildcard.

'Racis!' would match to 'racism' or 'racist' - as in "he levelled charges of racism" or "was accused of being a racist."
'Controvers!' would match to 'controversy,' 'controversial,' etc.

Re:Appearing twice... (2, Funny)

Your Pal Dave (33229) | about 6 years ago | (#24402823)

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

Courtesy IMDB [imdb.com]

racis! (1)

Fungus King (860489) | about 6 years ago | (#24402483)

...is also in there twice (along with fired) - what curious priorities they must have!

I think its (1)

hubdawg (1148477) | about 6 years ago | (#24402513)

fun that intox! comes right after arrest! and racis! Does the order have a signifigance ? I imagine the search algo will just ignore repeated args in the same query. But to me it is interesting if this is the original context of the search, does this say anything about the mindset of the author ?

Re:I think its (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 6 years ago | (#24402725)

I can't believe that they thought that query was so good it needed to be passed down. They'd have gotten a lot more benefit out of skimming a handful of articles that mentioned the guys name more than once.

Rules (5, Informative)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about 6 years ago | (#24402537)

I found this here [lexisnexis.com] :

Connector Order and Priority

Connectors operate in the following order of priority:

1. OR
2. /n, +n, NOT /n
3. /s
4. /p
5. /seg
6. NOT /seg
7. AND
8. AND NOT

If you use two or more of the same connector, they operate left to right. If the "n" (number) connectors have different numbers, the smallest number is operated on first. You cannot use the /p and /s connectors with a proximity connector (e.g., /n).

Example: bankrupt! /25 discharg! AND student OR college OR education /5 loan is operated on in the following manner:

* Because OR has the highest priority, it operates first and creates a unit of student OR college OR education!.
* /5, the smaller of the /n connectors, ties together the term loan and the previously formed unit of student OR college OR education!.
* /25 operates next and creates a unit of bankrupt! /25 discharg!.
* AND, with the lowest priority, operates last and links the units formed in the second and third bullets above.

Is LexisNexis Still Relevant for Non-Lawrers? (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#24402607)

Back when I used LN a lot, about ten years ago, the thing that made it useful to me even when searching through sources that were indexed elsewhere as well were the search terms like A w/5 B, which searches for term A within 5 words of B. That always produced much more relevant results than A and B, and despite all the praise of things like Pagerank, I've never seen a modern internet search engine give nearly as good of results as I was always able to find using this sort of technique.

Is this type of search still limited to LN, or are there ways to do the same sort of thing on Yahoo/Google/etc?

NSFW? (0, Offtopic)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#24402665)

Note that 'sex!' appears twice in the query. Must be VERY important.

My employer was asked for a list of employees, broken down by age and sex. He replied, "Just mcgrew".

Sounds like... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24402689)

...the recipe for a good time!

Spotted Owl? (1)

ajb44 (638669) | about 6 years ago | (#24402919)

Okay, so what's wrong with spotted owls, from a republican point of view?

Re:Spotted Owl? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 6 years ago | (#24402999)

Taste great?

Now I get it (3, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 6 years ago | (#24403003)

This must be what they mean about a search with a "wide stance".

Perhaps it's more enlightening to add together all the terms appearing more than once, like sex!, fired, racis!, arrest!, intox! and contravers!. What emerges is an interesting psychological view into the heads of the people doing the search. Based on what they list more than once, I would guess Jan Williams and Monica Gooding are afraid of getting so drunk or otherwise intoxicated that they wind up having sex with someone of a different race, being arrested (perhaps by an aggrieved other-racial spouse or something), and having the subsequent controversy cost them their jobs.

Just kidding, but who knows? Some of those prim and proper morality queens get really, really twisted when they drink a bit too much. Yeah alcohol!

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