White House Fishing Expedition
The White House strategy of turning supporters into snitches when they see "fishy" information about the health care debate may run afoul of the law, legal experts say.
"The White House is in bit of a conundrum because of this privacy statute that prohibits the White House from collecting data and storing it on people who disagree with it," Judge Andrew Napolitano, a FOX News analyst, said Friday.
"There's also a statute that requires the White House to retain all communications that it receives. It can't try to rewrite history by pretending it didn't receive anything," he said.
"If the White House deletes anything, it violates one statute. If the White House collects data on the free speech, it violates another statute."
Napolitano was referring to the Privacy Act of 1974, which was passed after the Nixon administration used federal agencies to illegally investigate individuals for political purposes. Enacted after Richard Nixon's resignation in the Watergate scandal, the statute generally prohibits any federal agency from maintaining records on individuals exercising their right to free speech.
The White House has been under fire since it posted a blog on Tuesday that asked supporters to e-mail any "fishy" information seen on the Web or received electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there," the blog said, adding that "since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help."
Labels: the Obama administration