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Oh My Stars! Public Officials Access Confidential Databases?

Is anyone actually surprised that this happens? I'm not. I assure you that it's not all that difficult to get supposedly "confidential" information if

Is anyone actually surprised that this happens? I'm not. I assure you that it's not all that difficult to get supposedly "confidential" information if you know the right people, and it's inevitable that the information will be abused.

Which is why we should think about privacy issues before we institute these programs:

The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show.

The disclosure comes as pressure builds from Democrats on Capitol Hill for quick January confirmation of Erroll Southers, whose nomination has been held up by GOP opponents. In the aftermath of an attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, calls have intensified for lawmakers to install permanent leadership at the TSA, a critical agency in enforcing airline security.

Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as "inadvertent" and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a "grave error in judgment" in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife's new boyfriend.

And by the way, as we are rushing toward installing full-body scanners at airports, we might want to keep this in mind the next time Michael Chertoff appears on the teevee:

What he has made little mention of is that the Chertoff Group, his security consulting agency, includes a client that manufactures the machines. Chertoff disclosed the relationship on a CNN program Wednesday, in response to a question.

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