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US Democrats Accidentally Publish Whistleblowers' Email Addresses 352

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the oh-whoops-our-bad-honest dept.
iluvcapra writes "The US House Judiciary Committee recently emailed all of its potential whistleblowers information about how it was restructuring its whistleblower program. Unfortunately for its sources, it emailed them this information with their addresses in the "To:" field (and not the Bcc: field) It also cc:'d this email to the Vice President. I'd like to think think this is some sort of ingenious subterfuge, but I'm doubtful."
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US Democrats Accidentally Publish Whistleblowers' Email Addresses

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  • by doyoulikeworms (1094003) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:10AM (#21139759)
    I'd surely use a free, disposable email account.

    Why didn't the person just go the Anonymous Coward route?
  • by NoTheory (580275) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:11AM (#21139773)
    Nice inflammatory title line!

    Why exactly do we have to make an IT gaff, even as massive as this one, partisan? Do we know who's staffers actually sent out the email? You do understand that the Judiciary committee does have Republican members right? Beyond the fact that Republicans don't seem to do inquiries into the Bush Administration, it's not like this wouldn't have happened if Republicans were in charge of the judiciary committee.

    That said, this is absolutely unacceptable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:13AM (#21139779)
    ...are generally equally both moronic and evil. Each may have their own distinctive traits of evilness and stupidity, but if you placed a numerical value on each trait and then added up the sums to get a score for each, you'd basically have a stalemate.
  • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n6kuy (172098) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:15AM (#21139789)
    So here are our options:
    1) Incompetence, or
    2) Malice.

    We're screwed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:19AM (#21139821)
    Imagine the crap congresscritters get in their email. What credibility would anonymous whistleblowers have?

  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:22AM (#21139849)
    Next year, they can point to Cheney, and screech that he obtained (and implying that he will use) personal information on the whistleblowers. The exact mechanism of how he got it will be brushed away.

    Or so my tin-foil hat wearing buddy told me.
  • Re:Could be worse (Score:1, Insightful)

    by moseman (190361) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:25AM (#21139869)
    Or Hillary could just off them in a Park.
  • by chakmol (88099) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:28AM (#21139889)

    I'd surely use a free, disposable email account.
    I agree, and I'd probably use tor to connect to it.

    This type of e-mail behavior is so common. I give my e-mail address to a trusted friend assuming I'll get e-mail from one person to ONE person, but no, let the mass openly addressed forwarding begin. Even worse, the recipients do a "reply all" and start having a conversation in my inbox. When I write to the trusted friend and gently try to explain the pitfalls of mass address sharing or how to use BCC, they invariably respond with a "huh?", or get all offended and never speak again.
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:35AM (#21139915)
    Rumsfeld should be charged with reckless endangerment. This was no accident. Rumsfeld knew how the kid's unit would respond.
  • Apparently you're too young to remember when the Democrats had real power in the 80s. Both parties are equally evil. The question is only where you want the evil directed, as that's where there are slight differences.
  • by OakDragon (885217) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:45AM (#21139969) Journal
    Yeah. Sometimes I don't know if Slashdot has devolved into DailyKos parody, self-parody, sarcasm, or just old-woman shrillness.
  • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glindsey (73730) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:49AM (#21139999)

    So here are our options:
    1) Incompetence, or
    2) Malice.

    We're screwed.
    I really wish I could mod this (+1, Amusing At First But Gradually Becoming Horribly Depressing As You Realize The Implications).
  • Re:Could be worse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @09:52AM (#21140015) Homepage
    I'm going with 1 with the addendum of 'this is a new level of stupid.'
  • And thank God too! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PHAEDRU5 (213667) <(instascreed) (at) (gmail.com)> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:03AM (#21140079) Homepage
    When the Democrats came in in 2006, I was expecting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be unleashed on us.

    Instead we got Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, two of the most ineffectual politicians of all time. My God! Every time Reid opens his mouth, he makes a little man smaller. Pelosi, having failed to install a carer criminal as Whip, finds herself in an ongoing monkey knife fight with Hoyer. Meanwhile Charlie Rangel's prposing that tax rates be raised, as we try to shrug off the economic effects sub-prime lending fiasco. Oh, and troops out of Iraq? No. In fact, the numbers in-country are up.

    End result? Completely stalled government, to the point where we don't even have a budget proposal. Better yet, Democrats are looking so imcompetent, they may just lose massively in 2008.

    I like it.
  • by Holmwood (899130) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:07AM (#21140111)
    What's really ironic and sad was that the actual email was setting up some sensible standards for control and hearing of complaints (see the link).

    That said, the headline is reasonable.

    This was a Democratic initiative, and possibly quite a good one until this.

    The Democrats are in charge. Yes, there are Republican staffers, but are you going to suggest the Majority staffers said to the Republicans "We want a long weekend, you guys take over sending out these emails."

    That would make the Democrats lazy, reckless and negligent as well as stupid.

    Admittedly it would still leave us wondering if the Republicans were stupid or malicious. (I know, many would say both).

    Holmwood
  • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot&garyolson,org> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:11AM (#21140137) Journal
    You have friends who are email incompetent and choose not to learn? I suggest you change your definition of friend. Those who choose not to learn from their friends and continue to abuse that trust I would no longer consider a friend.

    If they willing buy me beer and discuss technology, politics, and women, I may not call them friend but I would certainly give them my gmail address!

  • by rdean400 (322321) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:30AM (#21140239)
    Indeed. The Dems and Reps are both moronic and evil -- it's just easier to catch the Reps at it because most members of the media (except for Fox and the radio talk show hosts) has a chip on its shoulder about them.
  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:35AM (#21140269) Homepage Journal
    Almost.

    So imagine you're some legislator guy who graduated from law school back in the day when lawyers never touched a keyboard because people might think they were a lowly paralegal. You're a damn good lawyer, and at least try to be as good a politician as you can and still be a successful one. You actually know a great deal about things like the Internet, but in general, high level terms. You are well up on its legal, economic, sociological and even philosophical implications. You just don't know a damned thing about how it works, although unlike Sen. Stevens you are smart enough not to venture an opinion.

    So, you hand this message to an aide, "get this to all the whistleblowers on our list." The aide has exactly the same background as you, although he has a bit more practical skill at things like making PowerPoint presentations. The order goes down the line through a sequence of people with similar backgrounds and aspirations but increasingly less experience and seniority, until it reaches somebody with so little experience and seniority he actually has to do the typing.

    That is the person who has to make the right information security decision.

    Contrast this with the executive branch. The executive branch has something at its disposal called a bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are notoriously slow at getting things done, because their primary function is to preserve an institutional memory of every mistake that has ever been made and is worth remembering. They do make new mistakes of course, but provided you apply the appropriate feedback, they will remember that mistake and adapt to avoid it in the future. In minor cases they will adjust by simply engraving additions to the relevant procedures they follow. Given severe feedback, they respond by sprouting entirely new organs and body parts whose function is to stop the rest of its body from doing that thing again.

    So, in the executive branch, the order goes down the chain of command, but with two differences. The least experienced person probably has a manual which contains a procedure to do these things, a procedure that has provisions for avoiding disclosure of distribution list recipients. Secondly, if the mistake contemplated is grave enough, the work flow is designed so that once a task is complete, it doesn't simply go out the door. It is passed up through multiple layers of review until it reaches somebody senior enough to authorize that. His job is not to check that the proper procedure has been followed; that has been taken care of at a level below him but above the person doing the work. This guy's job is to use his experience in determining whether the standard procedure has failed in its purpose.

    When the next administration comes in, and all the people "at the top" of the organizational chart are changed, and all of the political philosophies have been duly stood on their head, the procedure, work flow, and personal memory have all been retained intact. Of course it makes it completely impossible for those politicians to implement the policies they've promised as quickly as they've promised.

    It is entirely possible that the bureaucracy has neither a procedure nor a work flow nor a person to prevent any particular problem. But if the problem is sufficiently serious, it will immediately sprout all three features. If you lay aside your well earned dislike of the thing, bureaucracy is actually remarkably quick and effective at adapting to avoid routine mistakes, provided (and this is important) that it is actually ordered to do something about them.

    About the only problem a bureaucracy can't quickly adjust to is not getting something fast done or cheaply enough. Fixing that problem requires paring down work flows and streamlining procedures and cutting staff (particularly middle management), which are the very things that embody the institutional memory that is their reason for existence. It is probable that some institutional memory is lost as minor changes are made, which is why bure
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:36AM (#21140279)
    If Bush was technically the head of this group, you guys would be screaming impeachment.
    Since he's not in charge of this one, you guys change your tune to "Leave the poor democrat in charge of this fiasco alone."
  • Re:Could be worse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rdean400 (322321) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:39AM (#21140301)
    Please....the Bush's don't have a monopoly on either malice or incompetence (and to be completely honest, our problems are more due to GWB taking incompetent action than taking malicious action). If the Iraq War had been prosecuted competently, all we'd have left in Iraq now is a police force training Iraqis on how to police their own country.

    No, it wasn't malice that caused this to be a mess -- it was incompetence.
  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @11:03AM (#21140453) Homepage
    "No, they're not all equal in their wrongdoings. Republicans have been responsible for the overwhelming majority of the evil things done in the US or by the US in the last 60 years, even when you take into account the fact that they held the presidency most of the time."

    The Dems have controlled the house and senate for a huge majority of that time, who makes laws and spends money? Democratic presidents got us into Vietnam, as for your excuse I suppose if Hillary or Obama win the election (both of whom have said they dont know when they'll get troups out) and things get far worse it will be more Hillaries fault than Bushes? get real..

    As for Nixon being over the worst part? " By 1968, the peak of U.S. involvement, there were more than 500,000 troops in the country. During the same two-week period of April that year, 752 U.S. soldiers died, according to a search of records kept by the National Archives."

  • by barwasp (1116567) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @11:19AM (#21140549)
    Well, the war criminal's administration has been asking for highly efficient whistleblowers
  • by MikeUW (999162) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @11:22AM (#21140581)
    Wouldn't an anonymous whistleblower be far less credible than an identifiable one?
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @11:51AM (#21140755) Journal

    Oh really? Did they start a war for profit in the 80's? Did they abolish habeas corpus? Did they gut the 4th amendment? Iran-Contra? Abu-Ghraib? Rendition?
    Please try to stop letting your idealogical position getting in the way of facts. From the ACLU: [aclu.org]

    This program is commonly known as "extraordinary rendition."

    The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton.
  • Did they start a war for profit in the 80's? Did they abolish habeas corpus? Did they gut the 4th amendment? Iran-Contra? Abu-Ghraib? Rendition? Do you have any similar list of misdeeds by the Democrats? I'm not talking about penny-ante corruption, I'm talking about wars, tyranny, torture.

    I'm not going to necessarily defend the Republicans in your laundry list above, but you are exaggerating the effects of their stupidity. As for misdeeds by the Democrats, it wasn't in the 80s, but apparently you're forgetting about that debacle called the Vietnam War. As with the current war, it started with good intentions, but quickly gave over to political opportunism. The Democrats have also historically manipulated elections FAR FAR more than Republicans, which is how they kept their power so long until the overthrow in the 80s.

    Then we could talk about the moral bankruptcy in buying the votes of the poor with only cynical intentions to "help people". I would say the damage the Democrats have wrought in the inner cities trumps anything the Repulicans have ever done in history. They have spent trillions and trillions and trillions, all down the drain, for the purpose of keeping people in bondage to the government -- and the Democrats.

    Of course, I could also point to the fact that Clinton did nothing after the first World Trade Center bombing, and pretty much knowingly let terrorism get out of control. You can put 9/11 directly at his feet.

    when it comes to our two political parties in the US, there is no moral equivalence

    On balance, I would say that Democrats have done far more damage to the country, but I admit it's debatable. It's like trying to debate which is worse -- death by hanging, or death by drowning. Both are pretty damn bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:07PM (#21141789)
    the headline is reasonable

    Bullshit. I read the headline and then I read the first line of the summary. Guess who (accidently) published some whistleblowers email addresses? The United States House Judiciary Committee. Unless you believe this was intentional, it was some peon who sent out the email. When the DOJ accidently sends out documents that are supposed to be redacted but have instead been treated in Acrobat with easily-removed black boxes, do you say the Republicans published information damaging to national security? Of course not. Unless you have some reason to believe it was intentional and can actually tie it to a particular party. Without that, you are a partisan hack trying to throw blame where it does not belong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:13PM (#21141819)
    Did they abolish habeas corpus?

    FDR did, in World War Two, and had thousands of Japanese, including George Takei (Star Trek's Hikaru Sulu and Heroes' Kaito Nakamura) interned. Although Japanese Americans in those camps were overall treated better than prisoners at Guantanamo, still not one of FDR's finest moments, especially considering the size of the group involved, yet he is seen as one of the best presidents the US ever had. Lincoln, who also suspended Habeas Corpus, in 1861, is also seen as one of the best US presidents ever.

    Although I wouldn't want to try to defend GWB's actions, the Republicans were not the only ones to suspend Habeas Corpus and by itself this action probably isn't sufficient to declare a president a bad one. But it will certainly be interesting to see how historians will evaluate GWB when he has left office. Much will depend on who will come after him and how he (or she!) handles things, especially the (probably inevitable) pull-out from Iraq.
  • by quanticle (843097) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:35PM (#21141979) Homepage

    What? Are you pissed off that there is a military prison for detaining people that want to kill every last person in the US? Or are you pissed off about those 'pictures'? Man--I'd be pissed off too. Some soldiers take some odd pictures of naked Iraqi men... Of course what pisses me off more is the Iraqis that *VIDEO TAPE* our citizens getting their heads slowly cut off while they are screaming and gurgling, and dying. Those pictures suddenly pale in comparison.

    While I agree with most of your points, I must say that the one of the important things distinguishing us from the barbarians attacking us is that we don't torture, while they do. Incidents like Abu Ghraib and the CIA torture memos undermine that important distinction and begin to lower our society to the same level as our enemies.

  • by Sergeant Pepper (1098225) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:41PM (#21142043)
    This post is so ridiculous that it's funny. In summary:

    [person A lists complaints a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k] [person B quotes source out of context] [person B takes source and says k is wrong, therefore person A is an ideological hack (ignoring a through j)]

    The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone.
  • by WindowlessView (703773) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:07PM (#21142249)

    Trying to play the historical blame game based on political party is a fool's game. Parties aren't stagnant. The Democratic and Republican parties of the 60s and 70s, for instance, have effectively nothing to do with the present day alignments

    Very few of you remember that a good portion of what used to be the Democratic party moved to the Republicans during the Reagan years. Prior to the 80s the South was entirely (very conservative) Democrats. They subsequently turned Republican. The people didn't change, they just changed parties.

    Similarly, much of the liberal end of the Republican party moved to the Dems when the social conservatives took over their party. As has been noted many times, it is debatable whether Barry Goldwater would be a Republican today. Certainly the Rockefeller and so-called Eastern Establishment end of the party went Democratic in droves.

    Viewing history based on a party label is preposterous. Look at the mindsets, personality types and philosophies involved in historical events for more meaningful analysis. They are the things that endure time, not party affiliation.

  • That logic works for actual deliberate actions of a committee.

    But this was an accident. It's not like the Democrats voted for it and the Republicans against it.

    A much more logical headline would have been that the House Judiciary Committee, or even 'The Democratic-lead House Judiciary Committee', published the addresses. An even more accurate one would have been that a staffer of the House Judiciary Committee did it, because I can assure people 'Committees' do not send email. (All in favor of pushing the send button, say 'Aye'.)

    But 'US Democrats' is totally misleading. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans did this. Possibly one of them is at fault, more than likely some HJC staffer is at fault. (IIRC, Committees have staff that's independent of any of their members for exactly this sort of activity, but I could be wrong.)

    Although I wouldn't have really said anything about the headline if we hadn't had the assertation that, 'had the Republicans done it, blah blah blah'. The idea that the Republicans would have taken more heat for this just annoyed me when the Democrats are taking the heat right now with absolutely no grounds.

    That said, I do blame the HJC for not having more privacy safeguards in place, when they are explicitly looking at 'retribution' in the Justice Department. And I mostly blame the Democrats because I expect the Republicans to be irresponsible. But they aren't the ones who screwed up, they just failed to put safeguards in place to stop screw ups.

    Actually, might I suggest that email is a damn stupid communications medium in the first place to use for whistle blowing? Especially when it's not anonymous? (They aren't listening to anonymous people in this investigation.)

  • by some damn guy (564195) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @07:37PM (#21144205)
    This is all smoke and mirrors. People on the right want to make things as hopeless as possible because they aren't concerned about the social security issue, they just want to kill it. Too bad that can't happen.

    Anyone who thinks this generation is going to pay in and not get their money back is going to get zapped. If the rich get soaked, the rich get soaked. Almost no one in this country is saving enough for retirement sans social security check (or even with).

    The Republicans are so slimy, they know taxes are going to have to go up, they're just not going to do it. They're going to leave it to the Democrats after it gets so bad there's no choice. It's a cynical game of chicken and it's disgusting.

    Nothing makes me madder than all this 'low taxes make the economy grow, so don't "steal" my money' crap. Yes, to a point, but the sad fact of the matter is that a lot of spending is needed to make the economy grow. This isn't 1800 dude, a modern economy needs modern infrastructure, and it ain't cheap. Rich people get the most advantage out of all this too. There are plenty of places where there are extremely low taxes, but of course you don't see anyone starting anything other than a shell company there.

    So ya gotta love Republicans, so patriotic when sending other people off to go die, but when they have to pay up all of a sudden this country never did anything for them. Wake up, assholes, this country made you rich. Think you'd be rich if you grew up in Sudan instead?

    The schools here are in a tailspin, the roads are falling apart, we're falling behind in net connectivity, broadband access, basic research, and higher education funding.

    People are going to figure out that we're mortgaging our future to pay for today's excess, but now of course we blame the people who just don't want to eat dog food for dinner in the twilight of their lives.

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