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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Just Lie

Wouldn't it be easier to just lie?

In case you missed it, a bunch of veteran and prominent scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have sued the government for requiring new extensive background checks for "non-sensitive" employees since the issuance of a "Homeland Security Presidential Directive."

Yeah, they do sound suspiciously sensitive for supposedly non-sensitive employees, but you've got to admit this appears to be a classic example of bureaucrats running amok. They get some sort of vague directive to establish an identification system and the forms start flying.

Suddenly, guys who have been working away on trivial stuff like exploring space for decades are faced with detailed five-page questionnaires and the bureaucrats have an "issue characterization" chart that gives letter grades to every offense they could think of.

Example: You get a D for murder.

Now you might think that they'd already fired all the murderers from JPL, but apparently this is not the case. If you haven't listed your murders on your questionnaire, how is the government supposed to know about them?

As I said, it would be much easier to just lie on the forms and forget about them. But the JPL guys (a fairly long list of them) decided to sue instead. I'm not sure, but I think it might have something to do with the request for three personal references on the questionnaire. You know a lot of those guys don't have three friends.

Now I know some of you are thinking that anyone who is a real security threat would lie on the forms and come up with three imaginary friends who also enjoy lying, but maybe that's the trick here. If you look too good, you must be the enemy.

I'd fire anyone who didn't admit to at least a class B offense.

The other issue here is whether delving into personal histories is helpful at all.

For example, say you're a senator from some obscure western state and you enjoy socializing in public restrooms. Does your hobby affect your vote on the military budget?

And wouldn't we be better off if some of these people spent more time in the restroom and less time on the job?

Hmm. Anyone want to bet no one in Congress got a questionnaire?

LABELING. The other fascinating security issue in the news the other day was the suit by William Friedkin, the director, and Sherry Lansing, the studio executive, against ADT Security Services, Inc. for, allegedly, failing to provide security.

OK, criminals do get past security systems all the time. We see that in movies.

But what was entertaining in this particular complaint was the allegation that burglars go for houses that have ADT signs in front of them because they know ADT isn't going to respond in time.

So to protect your house, all you have to do is take the sign down.

It's cheap and effective.

SELLING YOUR SERVICES. It's always instructive to see how successful companies promote customer relations. The following is from a Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed by a former "major accounts manager" for Blue Shield of California. She claimed she was fired after reporting what went on at a conference sponsored by a public agency that is Blue Shield of California's largest customer.

"One supervisor engaged in suggestive conversation with the CalPERS representatives, describing her past sexual experiences. Another supervisor removed her boots to show her legs to one of CalPERS' executive officers.

"At the suite, one supervisor, who was wearing a skirt, did a cartwheel, landing in the splits position on the floor. She announced to the group that she was 'not wearing any underwear.'"

And you thought insurance was boring.

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