Tuesday, November 08, 2005

About that Ethics Training...

Much has been made, and rightly so, about this story that came out over the weekend and how ridiculous it is that people working in the White House would need "refresher lectures on general ethics rules." These aren't the grunts we're talking about here who will be getting this training; these are senior administration officials. If they lack understanding of ethics or, as is likely the case here, simply find them inconvenient, this refresher course is not going to save their souls now. We won't even go into the fact that Harriet Mier's office will be conducting the training.

What I was really amused by was the other topic to be covered in this training, "the rules of governing the protection of classified information." In my job I work with what the State of California defines as confidential information. Things like people's social security numbers, home phone numbers and addresses, education records. Revealing this information isn't likely to cost anybody his life, but it's the kind of thing that, for the most part, people don't want others revealing about them. The rules for handling this are pretty simple; unless somebody has a demonstrable need to know this stuff, I don't tell them, and I don't leave this information lying around for others to see. How much more complicated or difficult can it to be to convey these basic rules to White House staffers with their fingers on vital information that can have an impact on the security of our country? It's really basic right or wrongs stuff; not all that nuanced.
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