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Protecting Whistleblowers, You Bet!
October 28, 2007 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Congress at Work The U.S. House Judiciary Committee sends an email to all persons who had sent messages to its "tip line." The email described the measures the committee was taking to safeguard the tipsters' identities. All the the email recipients' addresses were in the To: field. Oops.

"Compounding the mistake, the committee later sent out a second email attempting to recall the original email; it, too, included all recipients in the "to:" field, according to a recipient of the emails."
posted by Kirth Gerson (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
How do you 'recall' an email?

In other news "naive tipsters use real email addresses"
posted by Gungho at 5:06 AM on October 28, 2007


How do you 'recall' an email?

Some email clients do obey recall messages, apparently.
posted by delmoi at 5:08 AM on October 28, 2007


Oh well. Since they are congress they can just pass a law protecting congressional whistle blowers. I'm sure the bush administration will totally obey it.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 AM on October 28, 2007


From the article:
Some of the email addresses appear to be transparently fake, but there's also, much more troubling, a vice_president@whitehouse.gov carbon copied on the email, which is the public email address for Vice President Dick Cheney. In other words, an email containing the email addresses of all the whistleblowers who had written in to the committee tipline was sent to public email address of Vice President Cheney.
posted by jiiota at 5:10 AM on October 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Say, what does this 'bcc' thing mean, anyhow?"

"Bonehead Congressional cunts."
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:14 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm supposed to believe this was an accident?
posted by Brittanie at 5:25 AM on October 28, 2007


Incompetence is not limited to Republicans.
posted by caddis at 5:25 AM on October 28, 2007


LOLREPRESENTATIVZ
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:28 AM on October 28, 2007


This is a disaster so great only FEMA can handle... Oh Jesus.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:36 AM on October 28, 2007


What an excellent demonstration of Grey’s Law:

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."
posted by DreamerFi at 5:57 AM on October 28, 2007 [13 favorites]


Heckuva job, guys!
posted by kcds at 5:59 AM on October 28, 2007


Damn you George Bush!1!!1

*shakes fist at sky*
posted by rockhopper at 6:07 AM on October 28, 2007


which is the public email address for Vice President Dick Cheney

Man, that must be a fun email address to monitor.
posted by smackfu at 6:09 AM on October 28, 2007


Who sent the mail and which member do they work for?
posted by srboisvert at 6:32 AM on October 28, 2007


Email follies? This will wendell.
posted by trondant at 6:35 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yet another reason why congress needs to be FLUSHED!
Vote the idiots OUT. They can't make good on their promises because they're too worried about being reelected. They need to GO...all of them. The next election we need to bring in new representatives who will ACTUALLY vote the people's voice. Vote out all incumbents in 2008!
posted by GreyFoxVT at 6:59 AM on October 28, 2007


what's Ted Stevens's take on this?
posted by matteo at 7:04 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Vote out all incumbents in 2008!

I would dearly like to see this happen. EXCEPT - because there are not viable third-party candidates in most districts, dumping all the incumbents would probably turn Congress over to a new crop of Republicans.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:08 AM on October 28, 2007


Having all the email addresses in a to: or cc: line is a common error for many people who attempt mass emails. It doesn't excuse the mistake, but it does make me feel sorry for the intern or whoever was asked to send this out and just didn't know how to be careful. It's a fuckup on a grand level that is most likely to come down the hardest on the person who sent out the mail rather than the person who delegated the task.

As for the Cheney email appearing, I can see how that is disconcerting for some, but I cc: vice_president@whitehouse.gov on everything anyway. Not sure what the big deal about that is.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:20 AM on October 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


They can't make good on their promises because they're too worried about being reelected.

This statement makes no sense, as if they were worried about getting reelected, they'd be paying more attention to the people. Or maybe they are and there are people with different views than yours.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


If "con" is the opposite of "pro," then "Congress" is the opposite of "progress."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:41 AM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seppuku. It is the only way.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:48 AM on October 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Having all the email addresses in a to: or cc: line is a common error for many people who attempt mass emails.

Yep. And depending on your mail client, it can be very difficult to figure out how to send mail to 150 people without putting them in those fields. Bcc is not always clearly available.

Mail clients should have a little warning. If there are more than 10 commas in the To or Cc field, just a little confirmation dialog.
posted by Nelson at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2007


Congressional leadership and the DCCC spam me with fundraising e-mails every week, obviously using a half-decent e-mail blast program that disguises it's recipients. This is just sloppy work. Whoever is responsible for this should be fired. That person's boss should be fired. Perhaps the congressman for whom they worked should loose his committee assignment.

It's only fair because this screw-up is going to cause a lot of people to loose their jobs.

This is unacceptable.
posted by willie11 at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2007


It's only fair because this screw-up is going to cause a lot of people to loose their jobs

Or get them "accidented".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:54 AM on October 28, 2007


because there are not viable third-party candidates in most districts, dumping all the incumbents would probably turn Congress over to a new crop of Republicans.

Scared Republicans, though.
posted by enn at 9:22 AM on October 28, 2007


The last time you had scared Republicans, you lost your right to habeas corpus.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 AM on October 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Gungho writes "How do you 'recall' an email?"

Corporate email packages like Outlook and Notes support fairly robust message recall facilities. The implementation in consumer oriented packages is spotty at best. Unfortunately for many people what ever package they use at work is email. The thought of anyone using something without that exact feature set never occurs to them.
posted by Mitheral at 12:11 PM on October 28, 2007


vice_president@whitehouse.gov

Oooohhh.....I know someone who's going to be getting a lot of offers for penis enlargement.

but I don't think that will be much help for someone who is a gigantic c*nt.
posted by Skygazer at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kirth Gerson writes "because there are not viable third-party candidates in most districts, dumping all the incumbents would probably turn Congress over to a new crop of Republicans."

The system is rigged this way. Winner-take-all voting ensures that we'll only ever have two viable parties and voting third party will almost always be throwing your vote away.

If you want to change this, agitate for instant-runoff elections.
posted by mullingitover at 2:17 PM on October 28, 2007


I don't plan to vote ever again until it's made mandatory to vote. Until over fifty percent of American citizens are compelled to vote, it's a vocal minority that gets their way anyway.

You guys are making wisecracks about politics messing up with email? We still have the Electoral College. That messes up everything. This entire process is a lie. What difference does it make that a spam has a list of recipients in it?

This looks like watching people melt an iceberg with a box of matches. I had no idea the end of civilization would be so entertaining.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:51 PM on October 28, 2007


Oh, and before anyone starts, you can argue all you want: I don't classify fascism as civilized behavior. And I understand the irony of that: we can't MAKE people vote without resorting to fascism. Isn't it FUN how that works out? Like I said, very entertaining.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:59 PM on October 28, 2007


It's only fair because this screw-up is going to cause a lot of people to loose their jobs

What, your screw-up in not being able to spell "lose"? That hardly seems fair.
posted by TheDonF at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2007


The system is rigged this way. Winner-take-all voting ensures that we'll only ever have two viable parties and voting third party will almost always be throwing your vote away.

It certainly is rigged to be a two player system in the US but it isn't winner take all that does it. If it isn't too unamerican an idea you might want to take a peak at some other countries.
posted by srboisvert at 5:20 PM on October 28, 2007


ZachsMind wrote:

And I understand the irony of that: we can't MAKE people vote without resorting to fascism. Isn't it FUN how that works out?


The Commonwealth of Australia would like to disagree with you. We have compulsory voting and, while currently governed by a conservative government, I hardly think we're a fascist state.

Enjoy your vocal minority elected government!
posted by crossoverman at 7:50 PM on October 28, 2007


'Compulsory' voting is a misnomer, anyway - there is no such thing. It's compulsory to submit a ballot, not necessarily to vote.

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

All too true, and bears repeating.
posted by goo at 4:49 AM on October 29, 2007


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