Saturday Links

Saturday, April 11th, 2009
  • The VA has returned reporter David Schultz’s audio equipment, and says the department “regrets the incident.”
  • The winners of the Washington Post’s annual Peeps Diorama Competition.
  • Jacksonville police detective who also provides security detail for a local megachurch subpoenaed Google to uncover the identity of an anonymous blogger who has been critical of the church’s pastor.
  • Great headline: Woman has developed an imaginary, but useful, third arm.
  • State environmental agency spends ten years investigating fecal contamination of local creek, discovers its own sewer pipe is part of the problem.
  • Former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein–who called for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney–says Obama’s positions on executive power are even worse.
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  • 14 Responses to “Saturday Links”

    1. #1 |  wunder | 

      How did the detective get the state attorney’s office to issue the subpoena? I’d love to see what his reasoning was on the request.

    2. #2 |  SJE | 

      I’ll bet the VA regrets the incident!

    3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

      “We have procedures and policies in place so that our patients can make informed decisions about what information they feel comfortable releasing or discussing with the public. That is why, before we permit one-on-one interviews to be filmed or videotaped on our premises, we request written consent.”

      They’re not concerned with the patients at all. They’re clearly concerned only about what patients might say about them and the actions of the Public Affairs officer confirms that. After all, it wasn’t a Patient Affairs officer that intervened.

      Providing security and privacy for the patients is a legitimate interest, but that’s not really what they’re talking about here. This is about throwing obstacles between patients and the press.

      And it doesn’t look like they’ve learned a fucking thing.

    4. #4 |  Stormy Dragon | 

      the department “regrets the incident.”

      …showing up in the national media.

    5. #5 |  jahigginbotham | 

      Sewer pipe story but not comments url changed?

    6. #6 |  Ken J | 

      About 15 years ago I had a little “to do” with the VA. I ended up writing a letter telling them I would rather die than seek help from them. I was a young hothead then, but now I’m older and much more mellow. Do I still feel the same way?

      Hell yes I do.

    7. #7 |  Andrew | 

      Regrets in these all too common situations are simply not good enough. There must be penalties for those in authority who violate the rights of citizens. Until bureaucrats are actually charged with crimes, fined and imprisoned they’ll keep on doing it.

      The bureaucratic class are rapidly becoming the New Aristocracy. They are not bound by the laws they impose on everyone else and they are immune from nearly all forms of justice.

      The tyranny isn’t coming so much from from a president or a congress. The tyranny has its root in the unaccountable uncontrollable bureaucracy. Presidents and congressmen come and go but the professional bureaucracy is eternal. It must be torn out at the root and that is something that no elected official appears to be willing to do.

    8. #8 |  Michael | 

      HIPPA laws are there to protect patient confidentiality and insurance portability. Thus, the patient has a right to divulge any information he pleases! It is no longer protected information and needs no release form! These VA lawyers have too much time on their hands, to think up crap like this! And, I can almost guarantee you that it was the lawyers who came up with the release form thing. Mostly, they work out of fear and ignorance of the very laws they are trying to “enforce”. A release form for the patient to talk to reporters? Are they retarded? The patient was to be denied his freedom of speech and of association? How many Constitutional rights did they try to violate in addition to that?

      Then, on the other side of the coin, the government (DEA and such) can come in to take patient records, right out a doctor’s office without violating that patient privacy act?! Just another sign that the “elite” have a different set of rules that they have to follow. Especially, when they have to deal with peons like us!

      It goes the other way, too, though. If the patient starts talking publicly about this case, the VA has every right to divulge private information pertaining to his case and complaint, in response.

      Otherwise, as stated, it was a “public” meeting. Why would one need special ID and also need to sign in as a reporter? Unless, those, in charge of the meeting, were also trying to manipulate the information garnered, and to whom it would be given, through that meeting? Just more suppression of the ” new and improved” justice system. D and R look so much the same nowadays! Where is the change in that?! Has our government become the tyrannical ruler that the founding fathers warned of?

    9. #9 |  Mike | 

      Certainly at the public meeting the VA seems clearly in the wrong, however I suspect there is some additional interest with regards to reporters and patients.

      Certainly the doctor’s should be in a good position to know the condition of a patients mind for medical reasons. If a patient was just given a nice heaping tablespoon of morphine for some pain, the doctors know that he probably isn’t legally competent for the next few hours.

      Wouldn’t the hospital actually have some duty to prevent people from seeing the patient at that time? I would suspect with an incompetent patient signing a legal contract would probably work out. The contract may be voided at a later date. But a reporter who goes to press? Not much turning back the clock there.

      To me it’s somewhat understandable to ask anyone to check in before seeing a patient, and there be some amount of bearuocracy involved. Of course what happened in this case is pretty silly. Sounds like someone was maliciously using existing rules to prevent the hospital from looking bad and really failed.

    10. #10 |  freedomfan | 

      Regarding the deputy who forced Google to turn over a blogger’s real identity

      Thomas A. Rich also wants the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to explain what suspected crimes led Detective Robert Hinson to open the probe into his once-anonymous Web site.

      I want to know, too. I don’t really have an issue with a private citizen (including a cop on his own time, I guess) trying to figure out who runs a web site or a blog. But, the officer was very clearly using his official authority to get the State Attorney’s Office to issue a subpoena and that easily crosses the line. If a normal citizen wanted to force Google to give us the names of anonymous bloggers (because they were saying nasty things about us, or because we want to check if they work for a politician, or because their pictures look hot, …) without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, would the State Attorney’s Office help us out? Of course not.

      The SA should require probable cause before issuing any subpoenas and I just don’t see where that was established. It was clear that there was nothing threatening on the blog (“[Undersherrif] Mackesy said the three bloggers didn’t need to be contacted because [Sheriff’s Detective] Hinson uncovered nothing criminal.”), so where is there any justification for a subpoena?

      The Sept. 29 police report launching the investigation quotes Blount telling police only about “an ongoing Internet incident that has possible criminal overtones.”

      What “criminal overtones”? Vague much? This has “fishing expedition” written all over it. Either there was something illegal (like a threat) on the blog or there wasn’t. That can be determined without ever knowing who the blogger is and should be prerequisite for any police action.

      The Detective should be disciplined (if not fired outright) for this and the State’s Attorney’s office has some explaining to do as well. I don’t see how the SA’s actions here don’t constitute using taxpayer resources (in addition to government authority) to further the actions of someone (the Sheriff’s Detective) acting as a private investigator.

    11. #11 |  tsiroth | 

      Thanks for the Peeps link, Radley, that really made my day.

    12. #12 |  Scared Stiff | 

      Good work by Google standing up for the rights of their customers, too.

    13. #13 |  Michael | 

      #9 Mike

      It was a meeting of minority patients, held at the hospital auditorium, to evaluate the complaints coming from minorities. It was not a meeting with patients that were, actually, hospitalized at the time! I would think if a person was sick enough to be on morphine, in the hospital, he would not be well enough to be talking to the reporters at this meeting. NO ONE was checking in to see a patient!?

      An attempt to limit the reporter’s access to the meeting was being controlled, from what I can see. The end of the article states very clearly the entire mess is about suppression of Canady’s complaints, about the VA, to Schultz.

    14. #14 |  Jim Collins | 

      You need to make sure that you seperate the Administrators from the people who actually care for the patients at the VA. The movie Article 99 is more factual than you might believe. On the occasions that I have to deal with the VA, I love the staff, it is the Administrators that I can’t stand.