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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What is a Fishing Expedition ?

As has been noted everywhere, Scott McClellan said, when asked who Jack Abramoff met in the White House etc

"If you've got some specific issue that you need to bring to my attention, fine. But what we're not going to do is engage in a fishing expedition that has nothing to do with the investigation."

As has been noted at Think Progress, Mr McClellan spun himself into a loop on that one since, "This most recent explanation shows the White House has completely spun itself into knots. Whereas the White House used to refrain from comment on matters related to the leak investigation because the questions WERE related to an ongoing investigation, the White House is now arguing it won’t comment because the questions are NOT related to an ongoing investigation."

I would just like to note that he span himself into two loops. As far as I can tell "fishing expedition" is pejorative and is a synonym for "data mining" which is good.
The term is not just a term for a leisure activity, it is also a legal term of art referring to invasion of privacy and abuse of supoena power. A judge must not grant a warrent for a fishing expedition. A lawyer may not draf a reluctant witness on a fishing expedition. A fishing expedition violates a right to privacy.

The current Bush administration position is that I do not have a right to privacy when I talk to my mom on the phone, but they have a right to privacy while at work being paid by public money. I can point to the 4th amendment. They can point to the law which requires meetings with lobbyists to be open to the public but ooops.

Tomorrow we attempt to define "transparency in government".

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