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November 02, 2008

The Media's Selective Concern for "Privacy", the Poor

...is so touching. Savor the hypocrisy:

The Department of Homeland Security is investigating whether its privacy policy was violated after a news organization reported that an aunt of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama is an illegal immigrant from Kenya, officials said yesterday.

The woman, Zeituni Onyango, 56, lives in a public housing complex in Boston and is the half sister of Obama's late father, who spent most of his life in Kenya before dying in a car accident in 1982.

The Associated Press reported late Friday that Onyango was denied asylum by an immigration judge and that she was instructed to leave the United States in 2004. The AP cited two unnamed sources, identifying one as a federal law enforcement official.

Federal privacy law restricts U.S. immigration agencies from disclosing information about citizens and permanent residents, and DHS policy similarly limits disclosures about the status of legal and illegal immigrants. Asylum-seekers are granted greater protection, because of the sensitive nature of their claims and the risks of retaliation.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the matter has been referred to the agency's Office of Professional Responsibility and its parent department's inspector general.

"They are looking into whether there was a violation of policy in publicly disclosing individual case information," ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. "We can't comment on individual cases."

Let's get this straight:

1. 2001: Obama's aunt applies for a Social Security card. At this time she is legally present and authorized to work.

2. 2002: she applies for public housing in Boston.

3. 2003: she is approved for public housing as an eligible non-citizen.

4. 2004: a federal judge rules she is was not legally entitled to remain in the United States. An order is issued for her deportation.

5. 2005: she attended Senator Obama's swearing in ceremony. Apparently neither Senator nor Mrs. Obama thinks to ask this frail, elderly woman where she is living or if she has enough to eat.

6. 2006: the last time the Obama campaign admits to hearing from Ms. Onyango.

7. 2008: the Times of London reports Ms. Onyango, living illegally in the United States 4 years after her deportation order on a small stipend for 6 hours of work as a resident housing advocate, somehow finds a way to donate (illegally) $265 to the Obama campaign:

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Onyango gave Obama's campaign a total of $265, including several contributions of $5 and $25. The latest recorded contribution, of $5, was on Sept. 19. Only U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, known as green cardholders, can legally contribute to federal presidential campaigns.

So what does The Post find noteworthy about all of this, given the Mr. Obama's campaign rhetoric about the duty of the more fortunate to help the less fortunate?

The Disclosure About Obama's Aunt May Have Violated Privacy Policy

OK. We'll buy that. The Post thinks it's very important to protect the privacy of private citizens from unauthorized snooping by unauthorized parties with partisan political motivations....

Which prompts a few queries of the Washington Post's archives. The number of WaPo stories on those suspicious Joe Wurzelburger background checks in Ohio? Zip. Nada. Nothing. Not a one. The Post's outpouring of concern for Joe's privacy is downright touching.

What really rankles is that all of this is over a "leak" (and aren't we supposed to think that leaks which enhance the public's "right to know" are a good thing?) involving an illegal alien who violated not only a federal deportation order, but campaign finance laws.

But apparently we have once again strayed from the all-important narrative: those evil Republicans are out to victimize a harmless old lady who was only minding her own business by "outing" her. The press, who by the way, assisted in "outing" by printing the "leak" (and haven't some bloggers been taking them to task all along for BREAKING THE LAW WHEN THEY PRINT INFORMATION THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY ENTITLED TO POSSESS? Who really violated Ms. Onyango's privacy here?).

Answer: a leak is only "good" if (like Thomas Ricks' brave, truth-telling leak of that classified DoD memo which helpfully informed America that Anbar province was "irretrievably lost") it serves to undermine the government.

So as far as the Fourth Estate is concerned, your right to know depends entirely upon how it might affect the coming election. Leaks or invasions of personal privacy that aid their cause will either receive scant coverage or will be ignored entirely on the basis that they're "not newsworthy". Comparable stories which may sway undecided voters in a direction they deem advantageous will be highlighted, citing high-minded notions of journalistic concern for "privacy", freedom of speech and first amendment rights.

If any of this seems... oh, I don't know, corrupt or hypocritical to you, please do not be concerned. Should the folks at the Washington Post decide there's anything for the citizenry to be concerned about (say, after November 4th) you can be sure they'll let us know.

And come November 4th, the selfish rich will finally be forced to take care of the deserving poor. You know. People like Obama's auntie.

Because damnitall, America just isn't doing enough.

“They promise to return after completing school. They say they’ll send for the family once they get settled. At first they write once a week. Then it’s just a month. Then they stop writing completely. No one sees them again.”

- Obama family member in Kenya

Posted by Cassandra at November 2, 2008 09:35 AM

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We're going to spend as much money investigating who said what to whom as we did in the Baseball Steroid Investigation and still never know who said what to whom.

Posted by: ahrcanum at November 2, 2008 01:45 PM

One of the very distressing things I have seen in the course of this election is the apparent disregard of some important things I learned as a child... honesty, integrity, living by good principles and honor, all shoved aside, especially by the left.

Apparently meaningless now, but those are the traits I would look for in a leader. An awful lot of people in this country seem to think those traits are unimportant, judging by the support Obama has recieved.

Sadly, it seems we aren't the country we once were.

Posted by: Scott at November 2, 2008 02:08 PM

Sadly, it seems we aren't the country we once were."

Yes, we're quickly becoming a shadow of a once-great nation.

Oh, wait.........is it racist to say *shadow*?

Posted by: DL Sly at November 2, 2008 04:27 PM

Only if you're a Republican...

Posted by: BillT at November 2, 2008 05:26 PM

This is obviously a massive conspiracy.

Posted by: Ben at November 2, 2008 06:17 PM

The shadow of a massive conspiracy.

The Shadow knows!!

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 2, 2008 11:05 PM

This is obviously a massive conspiracy.

But self-limiting. Have you seen the circulation numbers for the Fishwrapper Media? NYT stock value went from the AAA List to the junk bond bin.

Wonder if they'll air the minutes of the next stockholders' meeting? Oooop -- silly me. That sort of thing's *private*...

Posted by: BillT at November 3, 2008 02:53 AM

> And come November 4th, the selfish rich will finally be forced to take care of the deserving poor...

...for exactly as long as it takes them to move their assets out of the country.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at November 5, 2008 06:16 AM