Intercepts

New Orleans pork update. It's our favorite time of the year here at Intercept central - appropriations bill season - when we have the opportunity to check out what kind of techno-pork Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) put into the DOD spending bill for his district a budding Silicon Plain-on-the-Mississippi. This year Livingston shoveled $69 million into one of his projects the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System under development at Navy Reserve HQ intended to serve as a DOD-wide system.

But - and this surely is a sensible use of taxpayers' dollars - before Navy Reserve HQ can start crafting a DOD-wide personnel system it needs to upgrade its own systems. Livingston allocated $15 million of the total budget for systems upgrades which includes software improved LANs and contractor support. There's probably enough spare change in there for a beignet or two and maybe a crawfish boil.

* RCAS lives. In a nod to political realities - sometimes the majority turns into the minority - the 1998 appropriations bill also pumped $114 million into the Reserve Component Automation System long-championed by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) when he held the pork strings.

* Social Security Number madness. Gen. Ronald Griffith Army vice chief of staff discovered that his Social Security Number - presumably protected by the Privacy Act - appeared on the Internet thanks to a Senate-controlled Internet database that lists the SSNs of hundreds of generals and admirals. Griffith said he viewed this posting as a troubling invasion of privacy.

The Interceptor sympathizes with Griffith as I have spent the past week trying to get the CIA Media Branch to adhere to the Privacy Act. When asked for my SSN in order to visit the CIA on a story I in return asked the CIA spokeswoman to furnish me with the disclosure form required by the act. After some wrangling which abated after I faxed the entire text of the act over to Langley the spokeswoman said I would be furnished the disclosure statement when I showed up at the gate but only after providing her over the phone with my SSN.

This is not exactly in keeping with the act which requires any agency to tell individuals what the agency intends to do with the SSN before providing it. I am hopeful that acting CIA media pooh-bah Mark Mansfield will do his best to get the agency in compliance with the Privacy Act which in the '90s evidently has become one of those laws people laugh at like the one that issues dire warnings for removing labels from pillows and mattresses.

* End of The Octopus. The 10-year-old Inslaw lawsuit accusing the Justice Department and then-Attorney General Edwin Meese of stealing its software which spawned a conspiracy theory industry knows as The Octopus finally ended last week when federal Judge Christine Miller found no merit in the Inslaw's theft claims. We shudder to think of the hours reporters spent chasing this kudzu-like monster.

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