Blog Archives

Obama’s FDA: surveillance nation

The Administration of the most transparent President ever, the one who’s gotten his records, transcripts, test scores, dental records, etc. sealed, is at it again according to the New York Times:

A wide-ranging surveillance operation by the Food and Drug Administration against a group of its own scientists used an enemies list of sorts as it secretly captured thousands of e-mails that the disgruntled scientists sent privately to members of Congress, lawyers, labor officials, journalists and even President Obama, previously undisclosed records show.

How bad were things? Well, if this were the Administration of George W. Bush, there would be calls for heads. Since it isn’t, there won’t be. But it was bad.

The agency [that is, the FDA], using so-called spy software designed to help employers monitor workers, captured screen images from the government laptops of the five scientists as they were being used at work or at home. The software tracked their keystrokes, intercepted their personal e-mails, copied the documents on their personal thumb drives and even followed their messages line by line as they were being drafted, the documents show.

The extraordinary surveillance effort grew out of a bitter dispute lasting years between the scientists and their bosses at the F.D.A. over the scientists’ claims that faulty review procedures at the agency had led to the approval of medical imaging devices for mammograms and colonoscopies that exposed patients to dangerous levels of radiation.

Send lawyers, drones, and spyware. And money.

While federal agencies have broad discretion to monitor their employees’ computer use, the F.D.A. program may have crossed legal lines by grabbing and analyzing confidential information that is specifically protected under the law, including attorney-client communications, whistle-blower complaints to Congress and workplace grievances filed with the government.

I think this is the time to drop a They told me if I voted for John McCain we’d have a paranoid administration full of surveillance efforts and enemies lists. And they were right!