Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
A prominent physicians’ group is suing the Obama administration, claiming the White House wrongfully collected information and violated First Amendment Rights when it implemented a citizen “snitch” program to collect information on those who make “fishy” statements about the president’s health “reform.”
Less than two weeks after the electronic tip box was announced, Politico reported the administration shut it down after Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote a critical letter to Obama about privacy concerns resulting from the “Obama monitoring program.”
“I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward e-mails critical of his policies to the White House,” Cornyn wrote. “So I urge you to cease this program immediately.”
According to the AAPS, “The e-mail address still exists, the illegal activity continues, and is part of an unlawful pattern and practice to collect and maintain information on the exercise of free speech, which continues in violation of the Privacy Act and First Amendment even if the defendants terminate a particular information-collection component due to negative publicity.”
A WND e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org bounced back with the following message:
“The e-mail address you just sent a message to is no longer in service.”
Bounce-back message from e-mail sent to email@example.com
The Reality Check page asks senders to “please refrain from submitting any individual’s personal information, including their e-mail address, without their permission.”
White House Reality Check asks senders to “refrain from submitting any individual’s personal information, includingtheir e-mail address, without their permission.”
The lawsuit warns, “No law or constitutional provision authorizes the defendants’ collection and maintenance of such information, and the Privacy Act prohibits the collection and maintenance of such information for ‘agencies’ as defined by the Privacy Act.”
AAPS and CURE accused the White House of attempting to chill free speech:
“In the public policy debate, the executive branch of the federal government enjoys and advantage in its ability to chill speech by affected members of the public (i.e., to intimidate the public), particularly in regulated professions such as medicine,” the complaint states. “Removing the executive branch’s ability to chill speech would provide plaintiffs a more equal footing in the public-policy debate over health-care reform.”
According to the complaint, both AAPS and CURE suspect they were reported to the White House flag address.
“My hate mail started shortly after the White House issued the ‘fishy’ request,” Kathryn Serkes, AAPS director of policy and public affairs, said in a statement. “We were quite visible and vocal before then, so it doesn’t seem like a coincidence. Who did they share their data with? With whom might they share it?”
AAPS and CURE are demanding that the White House expunge all names and identifying information already collected, and be prohibited from collecting personal data in the future.