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Jewish World Review May 15, 2000 /10 Iyar, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports


Right to privacy, Clinton-style -- ON OCT. 29, 1999, President Clinton, in full lip-biting mode, said, "In 1999, Americans should never have to worry about the nightmare scenarios depicted in George Orwell's 1984. I am determined to put an end to such violations of privacy."

Savor that presidential quote for a moment, then consider this lead from Paul Sperry's WorldNetDaily article on May 11, 2000 about secret White House phone recordings. "In what sounds like something from one of Ian Fleming's or George Orwell's books, President Clinton signed off on the installation of eavesdropping devices on the phones of White House staffers."

Sperry reports that Clinton ordered listening devices to monitor and record the phone conversations of his staffers, as well as meetings in conference rooms. But it gets better. There can be no doubt that Clinton was personally involved in this privacy-violating decision because he had a special box installed on his and his top aides' phones so that their conversations and meetings could not be recorded using the same technology. One other thing. Clinton reportedly installed this technology over the objections of the Secret Service that it would pose a serious national security risk. We now have reason to believe that this wasn't an unrealistic concern. The FBI is currently investigating allegations that Israeli spies penetrated this very White House phone system, arguably made vulnerable by Clinton's risky eavesdropping scheme.

Given Clinton's track record for veracity, whom should we believe, the president or this watchdog journalist? If Clinton's reputation alone isn't enough to convince you then let's consider another instance involving this administration's commitment to privacy. They talk a good game, but remember Linda Tripp and Kenneth Bacon? If not, let Senator James Inhofe remind you. Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed services subcommittee, has asked Defense Secretary William Cohen to severely discipline Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon for leaking information to the media from Linda Tripp's confidential Pentagon employee file. Tripp blew the whistle on Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky and Bacon deliberately leaked the confidential information to discredit her. Despite this egregious violation of the Privacy Act (confirmed by a July 1998 Defense Department investigation of the matter), the Clinton Justice Department refused to seek an indictment against Bacon.

Inhofe warned that all federal employees would be watching this case to see if the law will be applied against Clinton administration officials. If not, he argues, "the law is largely meaningless." Exactly.
This country was founded on the principle that no one is above the law. As we are a nation of laws, not men, the law is blind to the status of the offender. That's what is meant by equal protection of the law. But the equality principle has been twisted a bit under the Clinton administration. The best way to explain it is by reference to another Orwell novel, "Animal Farm." Old Major warns, "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others." Indeed, Old Major Clinton.

With this background information, shouldn't we be a bit skeptical when Clinton starts talking about protecting our privacy rights? As a matter of fact, he did just that not long ago when he pledged to use "the full authority of his office to create the first comprehensive national standards for protection of medical records." Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, in a new paper for The Heritage Foundation, warns us that there is much more than meets the eye to the president's proposed federal regulations "ostensibly designed to protect Americans' medical privacy."

In his statement unveiling the plan, Clinton said the regulations "would greatly limit the release of private health information without consent." Blevins says, "Nothing could be further from the truth." In her paper she details exactly how Clinton's plan will do the opposite of what he says it will do. In fact, it will allow the federal government, rather than individuals (READ: you and me) to decide who has access to patients' private medical information. Blevins says that if Clinton's "privacy" regulations are adopted, "the administration will have initiated the greatest invasion of medical privacy in recent history."

Considering this administration's curious notions about privacy can we afford to entrust it with regulations to protect us? Better talk to your congressman.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.



05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?