White House Plan to Mine Social Networks is Dangerous Because of Scope, Secrecy and Context

Facebook logoWe are happy that our August 31 report on the White House New Media operation to harvest data from social network websites is finally getting some attention. We unearthed the fact that this office is seeking a vendor capable of conducting a massive data harvesting operation, prompting concerns that the White House is seeking to identify friends and enemies.

When we posted our story, we received so many hits that it took down our server and forced us to move to a more powerful machine, but we received scant print and electronic media coverage. Today, the Washington Times covered the story on its front page, above the fold. Drudge and Lucianne linked to the story, giving it high visibility.

As explained by the Times:

The White House is collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without notifying or asking

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JPMorgan Chase Asked to Stop Funding ACORN

Dimon photoNLPC has asked JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon to end financial support for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and its affiliates. According to the 2007 tax return for the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the most recent available, ACORN Housing, Inc. was the recipient of a million dollar grant in 2007.  Another grant of $25,000 was made to the ACORN Institute. In a letter to Dimon, I warned:

Continued identification with ACORN harms the company’s brand name and reputation, and carries special risks for this company, a recipient of taxpayer TARP funds. The New York Times has identified you as President Obama’s “favorite banker.”

Yesterday, the Senate voted 83-7 to bar grants to ACORN from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If it is inappropriate for HUD to fund ACORN, it is also inappropriate for a public company like JPMorgan Chase to do so.

The Senate action … Read More ➡

Rangel Has More Undisclosed Rental Income

Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein report today in the New York Post:

Rep. Charles Rangel reported no rental income for eight years on his rundown Harlem row house, even though public records show tenants were living there.

The powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said he received nothing from 1993 to 2000 on the six-unit building, according to federal financial disclosure forms.

NLPC’s exposure of Rangel’s unreported and undisclosed income from his Dominican Republic “villa,” touched off more intensive scrutiny of Rangel’s finances, leading Rangel to revise his filings last month for 2002 to 2006, showing his net worth to be roughly double what he had claimed in the past.

These amended filings did not show a capital gain of between $500,000 and $1 million when the property was sold in 2004. The amendments did not cover 1993 to 2000 when Rangel claimed no rental income. … Read More ➡

Holder Cites ‘Duty’ to Prosecute CIA But He Let Magaziner Off

Holder/Obama photoAttorney General Eric Holder suggested on August 24 that he had no choice but to appoint an independent counsel to investigate CIA interrogation of terror suspects. He said:

As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law. In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.

Too bad he didn’t do his “duty” when as a U.S. Attorney in 1995 a federal judge referred a case to him for investigation that was far more clear-cut than anything concerning the CIA.

NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful lawsuit to open the meetings and records of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care task force. The task force was directed by Ira Magaziner, who now directs the international development initiatives of the William J. Clinton Foundation.… Read More ➡

Washington Post Calls on Rangel to Resign Ways and Means Chairmanship, But What About Criminality?

Washington Post logoIn an editorial today titled “Sorry Charlie,” the Washington Post called on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) to step down as House Ways and Means Chairman. The editorial comes in the wake of Rangel amending his financial disclosure forms for the years 2002 to 2006, showing that his net worth was roughly double what he previously claimed. The Post called Rangel’s revised filings “a treasure trove of outrage.”

Rangel’s amendments were prompted by increased scrutiny of his finances after NLPC exposed his failure to disclose (or pay taxes on) rental income from his beachfront “villa” at the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic.

The Post concludes:

Much is expected of elected officials. Much more is expected and demanded of those entrusted with chairmanships and the power that comes with them, especially when it involves the nation’s purse strings. From all that we’ve seen thus far, Mr. Rangel has violated

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CNN ‘Expert’ Lamely Claims to ‘Debunk’ NLPC on White House Data Harvesting on Social Networks

Gewirtz photoDavid Gewirtz, who contributes to Anderson Cooper’s blog at CNN, claims to “debunk” our story about White House New Media office plans to collect data from social networking websites.

Our story was based on a document called a “Request for Quote.” Of the document, Gewirtz states, “It’s a publicly available government procurement document, and just for you, I’ve read all 51 excruciatingly boring pages of the thing.”

Maybe too boring for Gewirtz, as he must have skimmed over this section that appears on page three under “Performance Objectives:”

(K) Provide a web-based tool for government employees to administer and manage this record keeping. (i.e. add new publicly accessible websites to the crawl or adjust the crawl frequency.) Provide a minimum of 10 simultaneous login accounts.

In other words, the administration wants the ability to have at least 10 government workers simultaneously adding new web sites to a crawl program, or … Read More ➡

Rangel Says Reporters Not ‘Smart Enough’ to Ask Him Questions

In response to reporters’ questions on Friday about his failure to disclose hundreds of thousands in assets, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel had this to say:

I recognize that all of you have an obligation to ask questions knowing that there’s none of you smart enough to frame it in such a way that I’m going to respond.

Click here for a report from New York City’s WCBS-TV that includes video.… Read More ➡

Rangel Had Three ‘Primary Residences’— At The Same Time

Rangel photoCharles Hurt of the New York Post reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel claimed on mortgage papers that a Harlem brownstone was his principal residence — even though he was living elsewhere at the time, The Post has learned.

When the Democrat — who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee — took out the mortgage in 1990, he said the property on West 132nd Street was his “principal residence,” records show.

By our count, Rangel simultaneously claimed three “primary residences.” The first is where he really lives, in three rent-stabilized Harlem apartments, for which he does not qualify, based on his income. He actually had four apartments, but gave one up in the wake of reports that he was using it as a campaign office, prompting NLPC to file a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that he violated election law.

The second is a DC home he … Read More ➡

Editorialists Roast Rangel

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) may have gotten a fleeting break when Edward Kennedy’s death knocked reports of his newly-disclosed wealth off the front page.

But by this morning, editorial writers had caught their breath and were busy at work skewering the Chairman of the committee that writes the nation’s tax laws. And just think how much fresh meat has been left for the weekend crew.

From the New York Daily News:

There are two sets of rules for Rep. Charlie Rangel – the ones he writes for everyone else and the ones that are, or were, beneath his compliance, powerful personage that he is.

From the Wall Street Journal:

When normal people happen to “find” their own money, it might mean a twenty left in a winter coat, or discovering change beneath the sofa cushions. But if you’re Charlie Rangel, it means doubling your

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Obama Critics Win at Moran’s Health Care Town Hall Meeting

As a pro football fan, I always welcome the late summer, which brings pre-season games. They are great to watch, for about ten minutes, and then they disappoint. The starters play a couple of series and then they are gone. Then you get that sinking realization that it doesn’t matter that much, either to you or the teams, who wins. So you go to bed craving the authenticity of the regular season.

Tonight, I found a replacement in the form of Rep. Jim Moran’s Town Hall meeting on health care. I took my two kids and we had an authentic Town Hall experience. It was everything it was cracked up to be.

Moran represents Virginia’s eighth district, including the cities of Arlington and Alexandria. It hooks weirdly out into the DC suburbs to encompass Reston, where the event was held a high school gymnasium that held more than 2,000 people. … Read More ➡

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