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Plundering the plumber’s records

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 31, 2008 10:19 AM


Photoshop: David Lunde

My syndicated column today spotlights the silence of the left-wing privacy champions who care more about protecting suspected terrorists than Barack Obama’s critics. Earlier this week, I contacted the national ACLU office in New York twice for comment about the raid of Joe The Plumber’s records. No reply. After my filing deadline passed, I received the following brief e-mail from the ACLU head in Ohio:

“You asked if we had a position. While the ACLU favors public access to government data, we also believe in individual privacy. Government employees shouldn’t be snooping through the files for information on individuals whether it’s for partisan purposes or to satisfy their own, or the media’s, curiosity. There should be clear written policies in place controlling when data can be accessed, and those policies should be enforced. What this demonstrates, though, is the danger of government control of vast amounts of personal data on each of us and how easily that data can be misused.”

Nice to know. Too bad it was like pulling teeth to get the ACLU to say so. No outraged national press releases. No public call for a federal investigation. And, uh, still no New York Times editorial decrying the domestic spying on Joe. You can read IBD’s editorial, though, right here.

Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard notes that Idaho Democrats have gone and published the Social Security numbers of GOP Rep. Bill Sali and his wife. The Democrats are blaming the victims.

It’s a chilling glimpse of the future. Happy Halloween.

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Plundering the plumber’s records
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

If Joe the Plumber were Jawad the Suspected Terrorist, civil liberties activists would stampede the halls of Congress on his behalf. Liberal columnists would hyperventilate over the outrageous invasions of his privacy by Ohio state and local employees. The ACLU would demand the Big Brother snoopers’ heads. And Democrat leaders would convene immediate hearings and parade him around the Beltway as the new poster boy/victim of unlawful domestic spying.

But because peaceful American citizen Joe Wurzelbacher is an outspoken enemy of socialism, rather than an enemy of America, the defenders of privacy have responded to his plight with an impenetrable cone of silence.

After the last presidential debate, in which John McCain invoked Joe the Plumber’s anti-socialism shot heard ‘round the world, several taxpayer-subsidized employees in Ohio immediately rifled through government databases in search of damning information. The Columbus Dispatch identified Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, as one of the dirt-diggers. She also happens to be a Barack Obama supporter who contributed the maximum amount to his presidential campaign.

On Wednesday, Jones-Kelley admitted that the records checks on Joe that she approved were far more extensive than she first acknowledged. In addition to pawing through his child-support papers, the agency “also checked Wurzelbacher in its computer systems to determine whether he was receiving welfare assistance or owed unemployment compensation taxes.”

Obama supporter Jones-Kelley argued that plumbing the plumber’s information was no big deal because the agency always checks up on citizens who come to public light. Democrat Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland quickly pooh-poohed the civil liberties infringements and denied any nefarious political motives.

If that doesn’t send a chill up your spine, maybe you don’t have a spine.

In addition to Jones-Kelley, investigators have uncovered at least three other suspicious uses of state computer systems to access Wurzelbacher’s data. A Toledo police clerk, Julie McConnell, has been charged with gross misconduct for accessing the Law Enforcement Automated Data System to retrieve Wurzelbacher’s address. She reportedly did it as a favor to a reporter. Authorities also say the Cuyahoga County social services office was compromised and an outside contractor with access to the state Attorney General’s test account similarly searched Joe’s data. Moreover, driver’s-license and vehicle-registration data about Wurzelbacher were obtained from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

I contacted the ACLU twice for comment this week about this rampant plundering of Joe the Plumber’s records. Like the Genesis song goes: No reply at all. (That was the same reply the ACLU gave me two months ago, when I asked if they had any reaction to the Chicago gangland tactics of a MoveOn spin-off group that announced it was trolling campaign finance databases and targeting conservative donors with warning letters in a thuggish attempt to depress Republican fundraising.)

For the last seven years, these left-wing privacy champs have lobbied on behalf of foreign enemy combatants. The ACLU fought unsuccessfully to kill the Bush administration’s post-9/11 effort to monitor terrorist communications in the U.S. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today went ballistic over the government’s bank surveillance program to trace terrorist financing.

All those papers fumed earlier this year when State Department contractors illegally sifted through the passport files of Barack Obama (and Hillary Clinton and John McCain). Obama mouthpiece Bill Burton intoned after the passport scandal: “Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes.”

But when freelance members of the Obama Goon Squad take it upon themselves to do opposition research on The One’s citizen critics and rummage through government databases, where are all the privocrats when you need them? How safe will your state tax and IRS records be if Dear Leader is elected?

Welcome to Barack Obama’s America.

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