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TSA Nominee's Snooping Raises Privacy Concerns

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the full-responsibility-is-more-than-acknowledgment dept.

Government 134

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that Erroll Southers, President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws. Southers accepted full responsibility for a 'grave error in judgment' when he accessed confidential criminal records twenty years ago about his then-estranged wife's new boyfriend. Southers's admission that he was involved in a questionable use of law enforcement background data has been a source of concern among civil libertarians, who believe the TSA performs a delicate balancing act in tapping into passenger information to find terrorists while also protecting citizens' privacy.""In his letter to key senators on November 20, Southers said he simply forgot the circumstances of the searches, which occurred in 1987 and 1988 after he grew worried about his wife and their son, who had begun living with the boyfriend. 'During a period of great personal turmoil, I made a serious error in judgment by using my official position with the FBI to resolve a personal problem,' Southers wrote. Civil liberties specialists say that the misuse of databases has been common among law enforcement authorities for many years, despite an array of local, state and federal prohibitions intended to protect personal information. Studies have found that police at every level examine records of celebrities, women they have met and political rivals. 'I am distressed by the inconsistencies between my recollection and the contemporaneous documents, but I assure you that the mistake was inadvertent, and that I have at all times taken full responsibility for what I know to have been a grave error in judgment,' Southers added."

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134 comments

Why the argument? (5, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616348)

TSA's mission is the gross violation of personal privacy. The man is perfect for the job!

Re:Why the argument? (-1, Offtopic)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616404)

MOD PARENT UP

Re:Why the argument? (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617916)

Southers's admission that he was involved in a questionable use of law enforcement background data has been a source of concern among civil libertarians, who believe the TSA performs a delicate balancing act in tapping into passenger information to find terrorists while also protecting citizens' privacy.

They actually believe that?

Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (4, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616356)

Inadvertence is incompatible with "full responsibility."

Inadvertence doesn't make sense when you figure out the number separate, independent, goal-directed decisions that he needed to make in his effort to use a government resource to advance his personal agenda.

When he says that the act was inadvertent, either he doesn't know what the word means or he is lying.

Now they want to give him control over one of the most intrusive databases of all time?

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (4, Informative)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616496)

'I am distressed by the inconsistencies between my recollection and the contemporaneous documents, but I assure you that the mistake was inadvertent, and that I have at all times taken full responsibility for what I know to have been a grave error in judgment,'

Read that again, maybe three or four times if you have to. Focus on one clause at a time really think about what he is saying before you move on to the next one.

He is saying the discrepancy between what he told congress and what the documents say was inadvertant, that is the mistake he is talking about. In fact he says he is distressed that his recollection was flawed. I.e. misleading Congress was a mistake, as in not what he was trying to do, he simply remembered things slightly differently than they apparently were. That happens all the time to me, I'm sure it does to you as well. Abusing his position, however, he has always claimed full responsibility for as "a grave error in judgment".

Learn to read, please. It will help.

All that said, I still wouldn't trust this guy as head of the TSA. It may have been just one mis-judgment in a long career of good judgments, but the TSA is so fucked up as it is we don't need someone who may be going on personal vendettas via airline security.

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (2, Insightful)

rhizome (115711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617026)

It may have been just one mis-judgment in a long career of good judgments, but the TSA is so fucked up as it is we don't need someone who may be going on personal vendettas via airline security.

Absolutely. I prefer a standard of putting people in charge who are not prone to grave errors in judgment. That eliminates everybody who has been caught for such.

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (2, Funny)

BlindRobin (768267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619142)

Actually, I believe it simply eliminates everyone.

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617294)

Why aren't there more controls in place to prevent this type of random access? Why don't they require a gatekeeper who can oversee and approve these types of requests rather than granting broad access based on 'trust'?

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617580)

Because then the people in charge couldn't misuse the data for their own personal reasons and benefit.

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617670)

I just don't understand why the same rules that apply to wire taps and such wouldn't apply to accessing this database. Why is one protected while the other is not?

He's fucking distressed he got caught in a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30618160)

Quit making excuses for him.

Re:Inadvertent? Full Responsibility? (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619192)

I think the opposite. I'd rather have someone who knows pulling this kind of thing can bite you in the ass.

This will probably be bad (0)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616368)

A couple worrying things. He made an error due to great personal turmoil. That's fact.

Is he saying that he won't make the same error again because the safety of Americans would not cause a great personal turmoil? Would my safety be more casual for him? That's not a selling point to have him appointed, personally.

If he worried about my safety as he would for his son, would cause a great personal turmoil? If so, what other errors in judgement will be the result?

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616432)

It was 20 frickin' years ago, and he was going (or about to go) through a divorce.

Him being a Democrat, I'm sure he's Evil in a dozen other ways, but unless he still snoops on a regular (or even occasional) basis, this is one item to give him a pass on.

Re:This will probably be bad (5, Insightful)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616460)

Because he had a good personal reason to abuse his access and did so thinking he would never have been caught makes him the perfect man for the job? I disagree--he demonstrated a willingness to misuse a public trust for personal gain that I doubt the passage of time has magically cured so much as made him better at covering his tracks.

Re:This will probably be bad (0)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616794)

I disagree--he demonstrated a willingness to misuse a public trust for personal gain that I doubt the passage of time has magically cured so much as made him better at covering his tracks.

He's been divorced from his wife for at least 20 years now, so it's safe to assume that he's over it.
Further, his current job has him in a position of trust with access to intelligence resources.
In that light, "He might do it again" isn't much of an argument.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616806)

It's an argument that he shouldn't have the job he has now, much less be promoted into a job with access to even more sensitive information about us.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616922)

It's an argument that he shouldn't have the job he has now, much less be promoted into a job with access to even more sensitive information about us.

Except for the fact that he doesn't give a shit about you, because he doesn't know you exist.

Re:This will probably be bad (-1, Flamebait)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617202)

Nor does he you. What's your point?

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Funny)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617220)

P.S.: because he doesn't know you exist.

Ominous voice: " . . . yet."

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619180)

Except for the fact that he doesn't give a shit about you, because he doesn't know you exist.

So abuses are power are ok if it happens to some 3rd party?

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619226)

I disagree--he demonstrated a willingness to misuse a public trust for personal gain that I doubt the passage of time has magically cured so much as made him better at covering his tracks.

He's been divorced from his wife for at least 20 years now, so it's safe to assume that he's over it. Further, his current job has him in a position of trust with access to intelligence resources. In that light, "He might do it again" isn't much of an argument.

Neither is your argument for excusing it. If he had killed his wife in a moment of passion, you could claim that he isn't likely to kill again, since he already solved his problem, so there is no public safety reason to put him in jail.

Re:This will probably be bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617578)

He broke the law 20 years ago? Hang him!

What do you mean people can be different 20 years later? Impossible.

Re:This will probably be bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617856)

Integrity is something you have or you don't. You don't develop it when you "mature" after however many years, and especially not when the only reason the issue came up is because one got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and then again for lying to Congress about the circumstances.

Yeah, it was a while ago. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616488)

And he was under a lot of stress.

Sure. I'll give him a pass on this also.

As soon as he voluntarily removes himself from the running. Actions have consequences. Once you make a decision of that magnitude to violate the ethics of your job, you SHOULD know that you are no longer eligible to manage other people who might be under similar stress with similar responsibilities.

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (2)

furball (2853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616602)

And he was under a lot of stress.

Are you saying that being the head of the TSA, being responsible for the safety of millions of flyers, will be less stressful?

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616662)

Are you saying that being the head of the TSA, being responsible for the safety of millions of flyers,

      The TSA are responsible for the safety of no one. As shown repeatedly.... how can that be stressful?

      1. Go to work, shuffle papers around, waiting for the next "attack".
      2. Impose harsher restrictions to prevent that specific type of attack, while trying to maximize passenger inconvenience. If an attack is carried out, claim that the system worked and prevent geriatrics from using the bathroom.
      3. Goto 1.

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (2, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616800)

You're being optimistic.

It's not "impose harsher restrictions to prevent that specific type of attack", it's "impose very visible restrictions that look to clueless voters like they will prevent that specific type of attack"

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618054)

And he was under a lot of stress.

Are you saying that being the head of the TSA, being responsible for the safety of millions of flyers, will be less stressful?

Exactly. Very good point.

Hypothetical Alert: 3 planes explode over Los Angeles and one man enters a terminal with an automatic weapon and kills 34, injures 12, and kills self.

Is that enough stress for him to stop caring about privacy or the constitutional parts of his job or those of all of his subordinates (the whole TSA). I would think the political, personal, and social pressures on him to protect people from that moment forward may seriously influence his ability to make good decisions. And with of not having a limiter on that type of action, we can know it is very possible.

Next!

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616632)

Actions have consequences.

What then, if he was disciplined 19.5 years ago, thus having "paid his debt to society"?

Re:Yeah, it was a while ago. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619168)

If you, or I, or Joe Sixpack accessed those records, we would be facing a prison sentence. So, what you're asking is, "Had he been properly convicted, and served his time, would he be fit for the job today?"

Think about it. Do you want a convict running a high profile security agency, protecting you, your special other, your kids, your parents? Think. A convict may have "paid his debt to society", but he remains a convict.

Re:This will probably be bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616526)

The trouble with old-skool trolls is that it's impossible to determine whether or not they're trollin'.

+1

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616588)

We want people in the TSA who don't make sudden emotion-driven decisions but instead can think rationally, even if a terrorist flies a plane into a building again.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Alerius (851519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617494)

How do you know his decision to do a criminal record check was "a sudden emotion-driven decision"? Actually, it sounds to me like a rational decision to make if he was concerned about the situation. I'm not debating how ethical the decision was here, just the rationality of it.

Drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels, grabbing his service revolver, driving over to the house at midnight and hammering on the door til someone answers and them threatening his life would qualify as sudden and emotion driven.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618090)

It sounds to me like you're just grabbing at anything in the air to make sense of it. The truth is obvious if you're not trying to ignore it. He was snooping, just like you and I do on our ex's on facebook and myspace. Except he had his own secret resources that he's not supposed to use for that.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619032)

It was, according to the summary, the article and the rest of this thread, a check he was not supposed to make without authorization. He made it because he was pissed off at his wife leaving him. Seems sudden and emotion-driven to me.

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616618)

I agree. It was twenty years ago. We've had presidents who did worse in their past (isn't it established that both Bush and Obama have used cocaine?). Past behavior may be important to establish what a candidate will do in office, but after subsequent decades of personal growth, that one incident is an unimportant data point. If it's a consistent pattern, sure, crucify him for it.

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

masterzora (871343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616682)

I agree that this guy deserves not to still be slammed for this, but to say that using cocaine is worse than the violation of personal privacy is just silly.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616852)

to say that using cocaine is worse than the violation of personal privacy is just silly.

No, it's not.

We know what cocaine does to the CNS, but "violating personal privacy" is really ambiguous, spanning a wide range of offenses.

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Informative)

masterzora (871343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616990)

Okay, let me rephrase: abusing power in order to violate personal privacy, which, while still ambiguous, is definitely a Bad Thing, perpetrated against another, unwilling person, whereas cocaine use is a potentially Bad Thing perpetrated against oneself.

Moreover, specificity is more or less irrelevant. Causing the death of a living creature is really vague, and covers everything from squishing an ant to harvesting a plant to murder, whereas engaging in respiratory functions is rather specific, but the first category is clearly worse than the second and it would be silly to suggest the reverse.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617208)

perpetrated against oneself.

No man is an island. Your right to snort coke stops when you turn paranoid and assault me or crash your car into mine, killing (or worse, maiming, my loved ones).

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617300)

Which completely and totally occurred in the cases of Obama and Bush? Or for that matter, most users? Hold them responsible for such actions. Even hold them responsible for doing things to increase the likelihood of such actions while under the influence (hence our drunk driving and public drunkenness laws), but until you show me that coke is going to result in such things, your argument doesn't hold.

Re:This will probably be bad (0)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617426)

until you show me that coke is going to result in such things, your argument doesn't hold.

http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html [whitehousedrugpolicy.gov]

Past year illicit drug users were also about 16 times more likely than nonusers to report being arrested and booked for larceny or theft;

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617824)

I'm sure you've heard plenty about the relationship between correlation and causation, so I won't even bother repeating that unless you really want.

Though, I am interested in the chart comparing people who have used illegal drugs in the past year to people who have been drunk at least 51 days in a year, and noting that the only statistics that are higher for the illegal drug users are in drug possession or sale, which is rather obvious why, and arson, which is only by a tiny margin (read: statistically insignificant margin), yet I don't see anyone suggesting that every president we've ever had may be unfit because they've used alcohol.

Other than that, the only section that seems to be of any causal interest is about crimes to fuel a drug habit, an issue which would largely disappear with legalization, so it only counts for half credit at best.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618028)

In other words,

Pasyt year illicit drug users were also about 16 times more likely than nonusers to report being arrested and booked for larceny or theft because one can't go grab a pack of joints for $5.00 from the corner store.

Seriously, dood, bad stat to pick. If drugs were legal, one wouldn't have to pay the outrageous black market prices, and addicts wouldn't have to steal (at least, not 16 times as much as those straightedge burglars)

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618268)

dood

Dood???? Did you just write "dood"? Your credibility just tanked.

one wouldn't have to pay the outrageous black market prices

Is alcohol cheap? (No, really. Back when I drank, going to a bar was pretty expensive, and store-brand liquor was N-A-S-T-Y.)

addicts wouldn't have to steal

Hmmm. Addicts' judgment and impulse control are pretty well on the low side, so just as alcoholics lie, cheat, steal & abuse their families just, well, just because that what alkys do, I'd bet that drug addicts would lie, cheat, steal & abuse their families even if drugs were legalized.

Re:This will probably be bad (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617462)

I'm absolutely certain that this story coming out right now has absolutely nothing to do with digging through Mr Southers' entire life story to come up with some dirt on him that will give Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) political cover for leaving the TSA with no director for nearly a year. I mean, one might almost think that the real problem with this guy was that he was open to the possibility of TSA workers unionizing [washington...endent.com] .

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617986)

to come up with some dirt on him that will give Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) political cover

No, unless the ACLU is suddenly in league with the Republicans. I seriously doubt that, though.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618008)

It was 20 frickin' years ago, and he was going (or about to go) through a divorce.

Him being a Democrat, I'm sure he's Evil in a dozen other ways, but unless he still snoops on a regular (or even occasional) basis, this is one item to give him a pass on.

I would disagree on that in the sense that his moral character permits this kind of abuse, and so it may likely be permitted again. The way in which so many people bid/sniff-butt for these kinds of positions, I'm sure there is someone else out there with more trust in his/her past.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618172)

his moral character permits this kind of abuse, and so it may likely be permitted again.

Do you also think that video games and books should be banned, because they cause children to have bad thoughts?

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619128)

What a man does in a time of crisis, such as a divorce, defines who and what he is more accurately than all the years of carefree living. Twenty years ago has nothing to do with this story - that is a red herring. The fact is, so long as the "little woman" kept his house clean, and did his laundry, and performed her "duties" for him at night, everything was just find and dandy. When she declined to live in his fantasy world any longer (for whatever reasons) then he used his position of authority against her for personal reasons.

The man may not be the lowest of pigs - but he's a pig. Given another crisis, he will do the same thing again.

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

haapi (16700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616532)

I would imagine he's a tad more mature now than 20 years ago and has more perspective on what constitutes "personal turmoil".

I say confirm him -- he knows the spotlight will be on him, and those under him know that such activities will not be countenanced.

Re:This will probably be bad (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616542)

Often times the best people for a job are the ones who've screwed up in a similar way in the past and have learned from the mistake. They can be far less likely to do the same thing again than someone who has never been presented with the same situation.

However, since it revealed a character flaw, that person is still not ideal. The ideal person is someone who was presented with the same situation and did not abuse their sensitive position.

In other words, the man (or woman, obviously) you want for this job is the man who was estranged from his wife, who then moved herself and their son in with a new boyfriend, yet resisted illegaly searching the federal database for information about the guy and instead went about it another way.

That's who you want here, though the guy who learned from his mistakes would not be the worst choice in the world.

Learned from his mistakes? (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616878)

He committed a felony by illegally accessing privileged information. He did this with perfect knowledge and forethought that he WAS committing a felony. He did it for petty reasons and personal gratification. He abused his position for personal gain. He perjured himself to cover it up before Congress.

Had you or I done this, we'd be writing about it from inside a penitientiary.

Now, if you're going to argue that he has learned from mistakes, that he is contrite, that he has since reformed, the time and place to make those arguments are at HIS SENTENCING HEARING, not his next job interview.

After a breach like that, the only public trust this man should be given is a choice between the grill and the fry machine.

Re:Learned from his mistakes? (1)

PK Tech Guy (1310715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617164)

IANAL but TFA states illegally accessing records is a misdemeanor not a felony. Perjury is generally a felony, but proving his original statement were lies and not mistaken recollections of 20 yr old events might be difficult.

Re:Learned from his mistakes? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618764)

What's the statute of limitations on this? It was 20 years ago.

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616902)

Often times the best people for a job are the ones who've screwed up in a similar way in the past and have learned from the mistake.

This is true.

The question then becomes "Did this particular guy "learn from his mistake"?

Other than the obvious "don't get caught", of course.

Personally, I don't really care much at all who heads the TSA. But I'm concerned that Obama seems to have a hard time picking candidates for Senate confirmation that haven't broken a law relevant to their prospective new job....

Re:This will probably be bad (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617000)

"Did this particular guy "learn from his mistake"?

Well, he claims to have "inadvertently" forgotten what he did. If he forgot about it, he can't have learned much from it.

Lets vote... (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616428)

How about we let the American public vote on these important offices rather than let a president that over 47% of the population opposed appoint them?

Its time we demanded to be able to elect those who seem so worried about taking away our rights. Those who are nominating, appointing and approving them won't have do deal with the consequences of their actions. We, the people of the US, will.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616456)

Yeah, we have such amazing participation in voting for President, I'm sure people will be running out to the polls to vote for or against current appointees...

Glad you have so much free time. Care to share?

Re:Lets vote... (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616486)

It was the highest turnout in 40 years. And honestly, its better to have a low turnout of well-informed voters than a high turnout of cable-news watching voters who vote only on who the person on TV says to.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616530)

And honestly, its better to have a low turnout of well-informed voters than a high turnout of cable-news watching voters who vote only on who the person on TV says to.

Not if the goal is representative government.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616564)

If they vote for simply what the TV says, are they really representing themselves?

Re:Lets vote... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616570)

The goal is good government. Democracy and representation are just means to that end.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617076)

It is pretty well established that a good government represents the people it governs, ergo a good government is a representative government. It is certainly possible for, say, a monarch to choose to represent the will of the people, but it is uncommon. When it does happen the kings and queens are held in very high regard for centuries. You can, however go centuries without having a good government under a monarchy.

When you build the government to be representative from the start, you give it the best chance of being a good government. What really makes our government amazing is its ability to correct itself. For example, the Supreme Court once ruled that slavery was constitutional. Pretty messed up, right? Later, after some massive changes among the people and given the time for the former justices to be replaced, the decision was overruled by a later Supreme Court, and slavery was ruled unconstitutional, as it should be (at least, according to our culture). No group is too powerful, no mistake is uncorrectable, and even "the final word" is really only "the final word... for now".

A representative government will always maintain the least oppressive state the culture will allow it to maintain. This is because it resists oppression by its very nature. If you feel oppressed in a representative government, you are in a vast minority.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619094)

It is pretty well established that a good government represents the people it governs, ergo a good government is a representative government. It is certainly possible for, say, a monarch to choose to represent the will of the people, but it is uncommon. When it does happen the kings and queens are held in very high regard for centuries.

My point isn't one against democracy. My point is that a good government (ie. one which represents the wishes and needs of the people) is the ultimate objective. The fact that I can throw a ballot into a box to influence who the leader is is not in itself useful, it's the fact that the system tends to put good, representative governments into place that makes it a good system.

Re:Lets vote... (2, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619096)

And honestly, its better to have a low turnout of well-informed voters than a high turnout of cable-news watching voters who vote only on who the person on TV says to.

It depends on what you mean by "well-informed." In this case, I suspect you mean "people who vote the same way I do."

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616478)

Because we live in a Republic not a Democracy.

Re:Lets vote... (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616540)

...And a republic can only work when there are many third-parties to choose from and allow your voice to be heard. A democrat isn't going to speak for all democrats and a republican isn't going to speak for all republicans. That is why an electoral system allowing and encouraging third parties is so important. For example, many democrats aren't really "democrats" at all, but would fit under either a libertarian democrat, green party, or centrist. Similarly many republicans may be more libertarians than republicans, or lean more towards interventionism.

The ability for there to be third parties also lets voters more accurately decide who they want without needing to be fully informed. With our current two party system, both Ron Paul (more of a libertarian than anything else) appears on the same party as John McCain (more of an interventionist)

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616724)

...And a republic can only work when there are many third-parties to choose from and allow your voice to be heard.

That's nonsense, the danger of democracy is the tyranny of the majority and of mob rule. It does not take any third parties to mitigate those, all it takes is decreasing the size of the mobs and increasing the influence of the minorities. Hence in federal government, thousands of people are represented by a single representative, shrinking the size of the mob, preventing mob rule. This is mirrored in state and local governments. To prevent Tyranny of the Majority, we do a few things. First, we enhance the power of the minority to make it more difficult to abuse them - this is why each state in the House of Representatives has a number congressmen determined by their population, but the Senate always has two Senators from each state. This means that even though California has something like 300 times the population of Alaska, it is really only 3-4 times more powerful in congress. The majority does have greater say, but not enough that they can ignore the minority.

The second thing we do is split our government into three branches of equal power. One branch is directly elected (congress), another is partially directly elected (Executive/President), and the third is not elected at all but appointed (Judicial). Each has specific duties and powers designed to balance against abuses by the other two.

Our system is not structured to work well with more than two large parties. It isn't a requirement or prohibition, but in order to elect a president by the vote of the people a candidate must recieve more than 50% of the electoral vote. If that doesn't happen, Congress just picks, which is not ideal.

In reality, you're only talking about one election for one branch of government when you argue for three or more parties, and it is the one branch that it won't work for. If you're serious about a third party, you need to build a presence in congress, where you are more likely to get a person in office who can begin making changes and building influence. There are far too few independants, and none of anything else in congress to do anything worthwile at the moment, and the presidency is like a hail mary pass from outside the stadium - it would be incredible if it succeeded.

Re:Lets vote... (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616968)

It does not take any third parties to mitigate those, all it takes is decreasing the size of the mobs and increasing the influence of the minorities.

Which is what third parties do. Ok, lets say we have 5% of people who want a government as the green party wants it, we have 5% who want a pure free market, total civil rights libertarian government. We have 5% of people who want a communist government, 5% who want a socialist government. 20% who want a government that is centered on outside affairs and 60% who want a government that taxes heavily but gives lots of benefits. Is it fair that in that situation 40% of the population has -zero- representation in congress because the 60% got their representative and the rest got none. A fair way of doing it would be proportional representation.

Our current method is archaic and needs to be reformed. Badly. Why? Because we used to have a tiny federal government, and a large, but not too big state government. Before the civil war, each state or each region could easily find laws that would benefit them. Anything that benefited agriculture would benefit the south while anything benefiting industry would benefit the north with few exceptions. Today, that isn't the case. There are high-tech companies in Kansas, industry is booming in the south, the northern US has a lot of agriculture, and even inside states there is division. Take for example Missouri, on both the east and west sides of the state are large metropolitan areas (St. Louis and Kansas City) but in the center of the state there isn't much of anything (and anyone who has ever driven in the midwest can testify to that) only farm land. So what might be good for Kansas City and St. Louis might be terrible for those living in the middle of the state and vice versa.

What we need to structure our voting systems like is to allow for reforms to allow for national elections of 100 more senators, each one would be chosen from votes allowing third parties. For example, there might be 40 republicans, 40 democrats, 5 libertarians, 3 green party members, 2 members of the constitution party, and the rest members of smaller parties. This way, -everyone- gets their voice out. Not just the majority in each state.

While it is true that reforming the election of a single president would be hard, the ability for congress to have the voice of all the people, and not just the majority is essential in making change happen.

The second thing we do is split our government into three branches of equal power. One branch is directly elected (congress), another is partially directly elected (Executive/President), and the third is not elected at all but appointed (Judicial). Each has specific duties and powers designed to balance against abuses by the other two.

And really, they aren't equal in the amount that it affects the individual person. Congress has the power to change the lives of most people by making things illegal or legal. The president really only has the power to affect the masses when it comes to A) War B) Executive Orders and C) signing legislation. The other part of the executive branch (police) really need to be elected by the masses due to the -many- abuses of power they commit on a daily basis. And other than the supreme court striking down or upholding laws, it generally doesn't affect the masses. It can certainly affect individuals, but not the masses.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617624)

Which is what third parties do. Ok, lets say we have 5% of people who want a government as the green party wants it, we have 5% who want a pure free market, total civil rights libertarian government. We have 5% of people who want a communist government, 5% who want a socialist government. 20% who want a government that is centered on outside affairs and 60% who want a government that taxes heavily but gives lots of benefits. Is it fair that in that situation 40% of the population has -zero- representation in congress because the 60% got their representative and the rest got none. A fair way of doing it would be proportional representation.

You are ignoring all of the most pressing issues for your pet issues. Inter-state equality is far, far more important to the well being of the country than deciding whether we want to be green, communist, socialist, libertarian, foregn influenced, or have lots of taxes.

What you are ignoring is the fact that it is even less fair for California to determine Alaska's position in the government, and if you break the current structure away from regional delegate determination that is exactly what happens, and you have invited tyranny of the majority.

The president really only has the power to affect the masses when it comes to A) War B) Executive Orders and C) signing legislation.

That is simply bullshit. The TSA is a part of the Executive branch, and you'd have to be stupid to argue that doesn't affect the people on a daily basis. Why do you think the President is apointing a new "czar" for it? Sure, congress gets confirmation rights, but that's the only influence they have over the process. DoD, FCC, FDA, FAA, and hundreds of other government agencies are all part of the exective branch under the control of the president, and they all have a massive impact on our lives.

Just one look at the name should tell that it has, in reality, far more direct influence over our lives than the Legislative branch. Congress legislates, the Executive branch executes. When congress passes a new law, it is the Executive that sets up a new agency to enforce it. Congress doesn't execute any of its laws, it doesn't have that power. That power is the purview of the Executive. The Judicial branch is there to make sure Congress's laws are being followed by both the people and the Executive, and to ultimately decide whether or not Congress fucked up with the law in the first place.

In other words, all three branches work in conjunction, and all three branches have equal effect on our lives. However, the branch with the most direct effect is the Executive branch, not the Legislative or Judicial branches, because it actually carries out the will of the people (congress).

What we need to structure our voting systems like is to allow for reforms to allow for national elections of 100 more senators, each one would be chosen from votes allowing third parties.

That is nonsense, the vote already allows for third parties. You are completely ignoring the fact that parties come and go, and even national parties change and are not permanent. If you lock in percentages of the vote for each party, you have permanently set the relevance of that party. Because this change would require a constitutional amendment, you would never see the Green party, for example, get more than 3 representatives even if they should eventually come to represent 20% of the population.

That doesn't work, and that's why we don't divide congress up by party. You're also wrong about the purpose of the Senators. Their job is to represent the entire state, unlike members of the House of Representatives, whose job it is to represent one region of a state. Your example of Missouri helps show how this works. The heaviest populated area is at the eastern edge of Missouri, bordering Illinois. This area is divided into three districts, each getting one representative. The next most populated area is on the western border, with one representative for a large metropolitan area. Interestingly enough the least populated areas of Missouri lie in four districts, with one of those being entirely farm country, and two others being largely farm country. So the farmers actually have more clout that one urban area of Missouri, and not much less clout than the other. I imagine the two remaining districts that are not significantly farm areas (north west and south west) often work with the farming districts when the urban districts are getting out of hand.

See how that works? Also note that just one of the farming districts has as much voice in the HoR as the entire state of Wyoming, and the three farming districts in Missouri have more clout than two states combined in the HoR. Their position is really pretty fair.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617896)

You are ignoring all of the most pressing issues for your pet issues. Inter-state equality is far, far more important to the well being of the country than deciding whether we want to be green, communist, socialist, libertarian, foregn influenced, or have lots of taxes.

No, no its not. The concept of a strong state government and a weak federal government is long, long, long, long, long, long, lost. Name me one thing that state governments have power over that the federal government doesn't mess with? There isn't anything. All the powers "reserved to the states" have been messed with by the federal government to the point where it doesn't really matter what the state says.

Your idea might have worked before the civil war, before the new deal. But this isn't 1840 any more. The civil war basically proved that the US was United States, not individual states united.

What you are ignoring is the fact that it is even less fair for California to determine Alaska's position in the government, and if you break the current structure away from regional delegate determination that is exactly what happens, and you have invited tyranny of the majority.

If you break the current structure away from regional delegation you don't have that because its what -everyone- in the US wants. How the hell is our current system -not- tyranny of the majority? There are people with beliefs that have no representation at all in government. Proportional representation would solve that allowing each person a voice. How is it not tyranny of the majority when there are millions without a single voice of their opinions?

That is simply bullshit. The TSA is a part of the Executive branch, and you'd have to be stupid to argue that doesn't affect the people on a daily basis. Why do you think the President is apointing a new "czar" for it? Sure, congress gets confirmation rights, but that's the only influence they have over the process. DoD, FCC, FDA, FAA, and hundreds of other government agencies are all part of the exective branch under the control of the president, and they all have a massive impact on our lives.

Yeah, the only influence congress has over the process is saying whether he can really appoint him. Thats not a big influence at all...

In other words, all three branches work in conjunction, and all three branches have equal effect on our lives. However, the branch with the most direct effect is the Executive branch, not the Legislative or Judicial branches, because it actually carries out the will of the people (congress).

But currently congress isn't the will of the people due to the lack of proportional representation. And many people will follow the law without having to be forced to by the executive or judicial branches.

That is nonsense, the vote already allows for third parties. You are completely ignoring the fact that parties come and go, and even national parties change and are not permanent. If you lock in percentages of the vote for each party, you have permanently set the relevance of that party. Because this change would require a constitutional amendment, you would never see the Green party, for example, get more than 3 representatives even if they should eventually come to represent 20% of the population.

You must have misunderstood what I was trying to say. What I meant was there would be 200 senators, 100 would be elected like today, 100 would be elected via a national poll. Each percentage point would give one senator of this. This would be repeated with each election of senators allowing it to always change and for everyone to have a vote.

See how that works? Also note that just one of the farming districts has as much voice in the HoR as the entire state of Wyoming, and the three farming districts in Missouri have more clout than two states combined in the HoR. Their position is really pretty fair.

In some ways its fair, yes. But it still allows the majority to stifle any voice of the minority which can only be solved with proportional representation. I think we can both agree that everyone, no matter how outlandish their opinion may be, deserves to be represented. Proportional representation ensures that they at least have one voice if they can get a single percentage of the country to agree with them. Our current way lets them be subjected to the tyranny of the majority if they can't get over 50% in a certain area.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618292)

You must have misunderstood what I was trying to say. What I meant was there would be 200 senators, 100 would be elected like today, 100 would be elected via a national poll.

But where do they come from? Do they come from Iowa? Or California? Or Minisota? Or Florida?

I hate to have to tell you this, but a Green party member from California is going to be pushing the goals of both the Green party and California. That gives California, or any state for that matter that gets this extra representative, over-representation in the Senat.

Furthermore, the purpose of the Senate is to represent the States in the federal government, not the people. That is why it is structured the way it is, and why each state has equal representation. The House of Representatives is where the people are represented, so if you were to do this anywhere it would have to be there.

However, you are still getting off track with the whole argument, because the system is designed such that it does not care who is from what party, there was in fact no concept of political parties when it was created.

The Green movement seems pretty strong in this country, and people who agree with this viewpoint are seeing their wishes fulfilled, or at least fought for constantly in congress. Same with the small government crowd, they have never stayed quiet even though the truth is they have no real direct representation either. They don't need to. Know why? Because while a Representative may be a member of a given party, he represents a DISTRICT, a small set of people. The members of the Green party, or Libertarian party, or whatever smaller party you may prefer have a direct line to their representative in congress. If they are being steamrolled on some issue or another, they can and do raise a stink in their home district, forcing their representative to represent their views when it matters most to them.

You've got to get off the idea that if a democrat is in congress then a republican, green, or libertarian is not being represented. That is false. Senators invariably represent their state first and their party second, and congressmen represent their district first and their party second. If they don't operate this way, they tend to lose the next election.

Also, there are other avenues for representation if you truly cannot be heard. Environmentalists make up a small portion of our population, and yet they were able to affect vast changes via the court system. Today environmental issues are among the top priority in government.

Libertarion views are widely known and espoused, and some members of one of the majority parties fight for them. The same is obviously true for the big government crowd and socialist crowd. So while these parties don't have a direct party representation, the individual ideas of the party members certain and demonstrably do.

So I think your entire argument is senseless.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618898)

I hate to have to tell you this, but a Green party member from California is going to be pushing the goals of both the Green party and California. That gives California, or any state for that matter that gets this extra representative, over-representation in the Senat.

But generally, whenever a member of congress makes an earmark in a bill, they get called out for it by various watchdog groups. Now, because we have state representation, it usually doesn't have any consequences. This of course, as you can imagine, is a bad thing. If a green congressman is pushing the agenda of California too much, the party may decide to vote them out or voters may vote for a different party. If a Californian congressman is pushing the agenda of California, the problem is it affects the rest of the 49 states, but we can't vote them out of office.

Furthermore, the purpose of the Senate is to represent the States in the federal government, not the people. That is why it is structured the way it is, and why each state has equal representation. The House of Representatives is where the people are represented, so if you were to do this anywhere it would have to be there.

Fair enough, I mostly just chose the senate because it had a nice round number of members thats easy to do figuring in your head with.

However, you are still getting off track with the whole argument, because the system is designed such that it does not care who is from what party, there was in fact no concept of political parties when it was created.

Yes, but again, this isn't the 1800s, we have political parties. Political parties are the defining lines that 99% of Americans vote on. Unless they are super-pissed off at a candidate, most republicans are going to vote for the republican candidate, most democrats the democrat candidate.

Furthermore, political parties are a good thing because its a lot easier to do comparisons between political parties than individual candidates. It also increases consistency making it a lot easier for people to vote for the people who will represent their ideas, not the candidate's ideas.

The Green movement seems pretty strong in this country, and people who agree with this viewpoint are seeing their wishes fulfilled, or at least fought for constantly in congress.

Seems strong, until you compare it with Europe. You also have to realize that its very much a hit or miss, for example democrats. They might be for decreasing carbon output, but they completely fail at being nonviolent.

Same with the small government crowd, they have never stayed quiet even though the truth is they have no real direct representation either.

Yeah, but where were the small government crowd when the PATRIOT act was passed? The DMCA? Etc. Yeah, some candidates say that they are pro small government, but the reality is a lot of big government bills get passed with few, if any, no votes. Similarly, its very hard to determine who is pro small government, look at two vastly different republicans: John McCain and Ron Paul. John McCain favors a much larger government than Ron Paul does yet both are in the same party.

They don't need to. Know why? Because while a Representative may be a member of a given party, he represents a DISTRICT, a small set of people.

Which defeats the tyranny of the majority how? You seem to constantly say that our system helps defeat the tyranny of the majority. Yet it doesn't. One or two people in a small group of people is always crushed by the majority no matter what. People with the same ideas don't necessarily all live in the exact same location. If 2 out of 100 people is for a certain ideology they are looked at as a small minority in these small groups, but when put against the entire whole of the US that is about 2 million people and that is hardly a small number.

The members of the Green party, or Libertarian party, or whatever smaller party you may prefer have a direct line to their representative in congress. If they are being steamrolled on some issue or another, they can and do raise a stink in their home district, forcing their representative to represent their views when it matters most to them.

Ideally, that would be a great solution. In reality it doesn't work. Have you ever tried to contact a representative or senator? Yeah, you might get a reply, but there are some times that you know they never even read your letter. I once sent a letter to a representative urging them not to vote for a certain bill. Guess what I got as a reply? A statement reassuring me that the bill had their full support.

Yeah, best case scenario you vote them out of office. But who replaces them? Its really, really easy to vote someone out of office, its really hard to get someone who will bring meaningful change. In a district, sure, you can vote out the incumbent, but chances are you will get someone who is nearly exactly the same and so the process repeats.

You've got to get off the idea that if a democrat is in congress then a republican, green, or libertarian is not being represented. That is false. Senators invariably represent their state first and their party second, and congressmen represent their district first and their party second. If they don't operate this way, they tend to lose the next election.

But a state doesn't represent the individual which is what matters. An individual is much more important than the state. Yeah, back when the system was designed it might have worked out. But its 2010, not 1810, times have shifted. The federal government affects individuals just as much, if not more so than states.

Also, there are other avenues for representation if you truly cannot be heard. Environmentalists make up a small portion of our population, and yet they were able to affect vast changes via the court system. Today environmental issues are among the top priority in government.

Sure, but most of their reforms were quite easy to argue. Its a lot harder to argue about taxes and human rights than it is to show proof that DDT is killing off the eagle population.

Libertarion views are widely known and espoused, and some members of one of the majority parties fight for them. The same is obviously true for the big government crowd and socialist crowd. So while these parties don't have a direct party representation, the individual ideas of the party members certain and demonstrably do.

Sure, but its very hard for the average voter to then determine which candidates fall in line with their viewpoints. That is why political parties are so important. While we, as the slashdot crowd may research each candidate online and find out their viewpoints, the average person only separates them into democrat or republican. Then they watch their favorite cable TV news channel and add in that bias to their viewpoints and get a skewed idea of what each person may be representing.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616816)

How about no Parties at all? Let's *really* think outside the box.

Re:Lets vote... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617954)

The US system actually gives no preference to any individual party, or pair of parties. The dual party situation is simply a natural consequence of the requirement that the President recieve more than 50% of the vote.

In truth, political parties were one of the few major things the Founding Fathers never forsaw. They were already thinking way outside the box, but it was simply something they hadn't imagined. Fortunately, since they were already thinking outside the box, they created the process by which the 12th Ammendment could be passed. That ammendment adjusts the way the electoral college works, mitigating the damage that political parties can cause.

Who doesn't do this? (5, Insightful)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616430)

I suspect folks with that kind of access who misuse it at least on occasion are far more common than those who don't. What surprises me here, actually, is that there were any checks that resulted in him having been caught in the first place.

Re:Who doesn't do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616834)

You're right. I know people in similar positions, whom we've used to find out information on people in the past.

It's pretty rampant and usually people don't get caught.

What's one more lookup amongst millions?

Re:Who doesn't do this? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619204)

Well, considering that this nomination has been blocked by a Republican proto-filibuster for almost 3 months now, I suspect this guy has very little privacy left. Ironic, really.

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616444)

he's no worse than Turbo Tax Timmy.

What's worse? (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616512)

The fact that he used the police database to get revenge on his ex-wife, or the fact that he tried to mislead Congress about what he actually did?

Now he's saying his original statement that he asked someone else to do the search for him was wrong, that he actually did the searching himself, twice. Voters are getting tired of government officials who conveniently forget facts.

Re:What's worse? (1)

jmcharry (608079) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617288)

I don't think it is a "fact" that he did it to get revenge on his ex-wife. He claims some concern about the welfare of her and their child. If, as he says, he passed something on to the police, such concern might not have been ungrounded. I suspect it is a hard call for a father with suspicions and access to such information to refrain from sinning.

Re:What's worse? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617720)

or the fact that he tried to mislead Congress about what he actually did?

If you can read, he claims any misleading statements he made were inadvertant, and that he has always taken responsibility for his error in judgment.

Now, if you want to call him a liar, that's one thing. What evidence do you have that he intentionally misled congress, as opposed to simply not remembering details about something that happened 20 years ago? He readily admitted his mistake when documents showed his testimony didn't match.

I'm sure you remember everything wrong you did 20 years ago with perfect detail, yes?

Now, I'm not saying he DIDN'T intentionally mislead congress, just that you shouldn't jump to that conclusion when he appears to be making an honest attempt to tell the truth.

Frankly, he'd be stupid to try to intentionally misleed congress about it, because he got caught when it happened. Of course they would be able to find out.

He's our man! (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616546)

No moral scruples... check.

Congratulations. You're just the man we need to institute our plan for Change.

Re:He's our man! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616858)

Shucks, if he'd been applying under the Shrub administration, he'd already have the job.

He should be perfect in this role (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616552)

I'm sure others will point out that this guy has a history of abusing his position for personal reasons. He will therefore be watched by various people including news people looking for a juicy story and even the appearance of impropriety will likely result in some sort of story.

I think that abuse of position and power is par for the course. If he does it and is discovered, it would be a huge disgrace to him, his office and the one who appointed him. On the other hand, if he resists the urge or is simply very successful at being sneaky, then maybe it's all for the best somehow.

Inadvertant = I'm a fuckwit (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616554)

The only way this guy gets appointed is if the politicians all sympathize with him. Not an unlikely outcome, it should be noted.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616614)

So I say we all make mistakes, and his was 20 years ago. Behavior like this occurs at all levels and for all sorts of reasons. Accessing the information doesn't concern me so much as if it was acted on in an illegitimate way. THAT would be a whole different story. Besides corporate espionage is a long standing issue. Tell me none of the geeks on here have spoken of privileged information during a job interview for example.

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616638)

I haven't.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616766)

Accessing the information doesn't concern me so much as if it was acted on in an illegitimate way.

You mean like passing it on to a member of the San Diego police department? Yea, he forgot to mention that the first time too.

This is a legitimate reason for... (1)

cts5678 (1383735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616658)

...opposing this candidate. Jim DeMint's fear of TSA being allowed to unionize is not a legitimate reason to do so.

Change! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616780)

Well, 2010 is 15 hours old where I am. I am so far disappointed. OK, so what have we here. Government official abusing power. Huh. Who woulda thunk.

Nothing new here... (2, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616992)

"Person in power believes rules don't apply to self, changes mind when caught." - Film at 11.

If more people respected or even cared about the spirit - heck, letter - of the law (or morality) instead of their personal wants, desires, and goals, we'd all be better off. Would the recent near-collapse of the banking industry have happened if the guys at AIG or Goldman-Sachs cared about the ramifications of their greed on others - and by "others" I mean "us", not the other bastards on Wall Street.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone (1)

Alerius (851519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617090)

Wow, slashdot users certainly want to hold this guy to an amazingly high standard - one that I question whether they could meet themselves.

Twenty years ago he checked the criminal record of the man his son was going to be living with. Who here would not have done the same thing if they had the access? Twenty years ago he was censured for this act. So he made a mistake and paid the price. Heck after 20 years if he'd been to court and been fined for this, he'd probably have been able to have it removed from his record. He still made a point of disclosing it and then further clarified when he went back and read his notes on the incident and apologized for the discrepancy in the two accounts.

If you're seeking a saint to take a political appointment, I'd recommend not holding your breathe.

Sheesh.

Disband the TSA (4, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617142)

Why are we seeking a new boss for the TSA when we should disband the TSA (Terrorist Security Agency). Are you terrorized? I'm not! So why are we being asked to be terrorized when IT IS OUR ENEMIES THAT WISH US TO BE TERRORIZED?

Re:Disband the TSA (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619222)

Disbanding the TSA would be the same as admitting that the last 7 years of security theater was totally pointless. No politician is going to touch that with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

Irrelevant (4, Insightful)

McDrewbie (530348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617160)

It doesn't matter. Almost everyone takes some sort of advantage/liberties at their jobs, especially when younger. Waiters get free food and drink, office workers look at FB and steal pens. Glen Beck shills for gold. Politicians can "fundraise." He just happened to have the ability to run background checks.

TSA is a Terrorist Organization ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30617690)

within a Terrorist government agency, the Department of Homeland Securing and they are backed-up by a Terrorists government, the Chief Executive of the United States of America.

Janet "Planet" Napolitano was absolutly "as in Vodka" correct in saying "the system worked!" Yes! The air-line and national security system is a terrorist system to terrorize citizens of the United States of America.

The only way the current President, like G.W.B., or any other President, to get re-elected or elected, is through the nationalization of terror, to terrorize the citizens and remind them periodically of terror.

Ergo, if there is no terror, or no terrorists, then the President and his National Security Organs of Government, need not exist.

Therefore, the President of the United States of America is the Supreme sponsor of national and international terrorism, and national and international terrorism organizations!

Osama Bin Laden is payed by the Chief Executive of the United States of America, the President of the U.S.A.

WTF is going on in this country? (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 4 years ago | (#30618368)

It's not people like this one who went WAY over the line and violated the trust of the American people - it's the poor misguided fools out there who think this is OK somehow and that we should give him another chance. Here's a newsflash for you - he had the position of trust and when temptation arose he gave in shamelessly and the lies he's telling now don't make it acceptable.

I'm not suggesting that this fellow be prevented from living a "normal" life and holding a job - but the proposed job that this fellow is being considered for is one that would put in in the same position he was before when he (for some unexplained reason) failed to uphold the requirements of his position. This fellow is probably just morally challenged - but the people proposing him for this job are fools.

Really, folks - we'd never consider placing a child molester as an elementary school teacher. But this fellow would be in a position to cause serious harm to many, many more people. It's a horrible idea. And those who are offering apologetic platitudes for this fellow's past transgressions - what the heck are you fools thinking? This will cause you just as much harm as anyone else - wake up!

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