"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Private Parts 

From the New York Times, via my local fishwrap (to avoid registration, of course):
The Social Security Administration has relaxed its privacy restrictions and searched thousands of its files at the request of the FBI as part of terrorism investigations since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

The privacy policy typically bans the sharing of such sensitive information, which includes home addresses, medical information and other personal data. But senior officials at the Social Security agency agreed to an "ad hoc" policy that authorized the release of information to the bureau for investigations related to Sept. 11 because officials saw a "life-threatening" emergency, internal memos say.

The Internal Revenue Service also worked with the FBI and the Social Security agency to provide income and taxpayer information in terror inquiries, law enforcement officials said.

Yawn. The Fourth Amendment is dead, buried, and long forgotten, but so what? This is old news, kind of like those boring old Downing Street documents. So why am I bothering you with it? Well, because there was one little nugget of weirdness down in the umpteenth paragraph that I just can't quite seem to figure out (emphasis supplied):
In addition to easing its rules, the Social Security agency agreed to waive normal privacy restrictions for information related to the FBI investigation on the Washington region sniper attacks in 2002, the internal memos show. It does not appear that any information was ultimately turned over.

The agency agreed two days after the Sept. 11 attacks to give the FBI access to material from its files to obtain information on the hijackers, anyone with "relevant information" on the attacks and victims' relatives.

Now, why the hell would the FBI want restricted information from the Social Security Administration about the victims' relatives? Can anyone suggest what this might have been about? Because, frankly, I'm flummoxed.




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