What happens in Vegas . . .


What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay there, or so the advertising slogan goes. But on a PBS documentary tonight called Spying on the Home Front, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Hedrick Smith will look into the changed rules of domestic surveillance, including:

“a massive FBI data sweep in December 2003. On a tip that Al Qaeda “might have an interest in Las Vegas” around New Year’s 2004, the FBI demanded records from all hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, casinos and other businesses on every person who visited Las Vegas in the run-up to the holiday. Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas of Kansas City, Missouri, object to being caught in the FBI dragnet in Las Vegas just because they happened to get married there at the wrong moment.”

I’m sure there’s people who say, if you didn’t do anything wrong, hen why worry; anything to catch Osama bin What’s-his-name. But if you’re the kind of person who worriesd about archaic concepts like the Bill of Rights (they’re not really part of the Constitution, you now; they were an afterthought) check for show times, tonight May 15 (use this link for local listings).A mini-plug. This is the first close-to-graceful chance I’ve had to note that one of my blog posts appears on the home page of the PBS Frontline series, News War, that aired earlier this year. I believe what happened is that in writing a posting called, “Daily Journalism: That dog won’t hunt,” I referenced the Frontline series and that got the piece picked up — including a typo that I made in my original. Oh, well, it was the thought that mattered.


Remember it’s whistle blowers week: It takes a lot of courage for government workers to blow the whistle on fraudulent or illegal behavior. This week some of these courageous folk (click for mini profiles) hope to persuade the Senate to enact a bill that has already passed the House. The proposal would restore some legal protection for those who risk career and sometimes more to do the right thing — when that’s different from what they’re told. I blogged with more detail about this recently. Here’s the agenda for the whistle blower’s lobbying event. Do what you can.