Dear Mr. President: now might not be the best time to say you were pawing through records of my email addresses

Summary:After spending weeks reading about the NSA mess, getting a note from the President's fundraising team telling me they were looking at records associated with my email address just raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

I get spam from the President. For whatever reason, I don't get spam from the Republicans, even though I've mocked them just as much as I've mocked the Democrats. And yet, I constantly get presidential political spam.

Okay, to be fair, I do get spam from the Reagan Library, but they have some good offers. They once had a big Mickey Mouse special, which I almost went for. I'm not a Disney fan, but being an hour from Orlando, it's always smart to act as if you're part of the club. After all, they have ears everywhere.

I'm still not entirely sure why the Reagan Library was doing so much Mickey Mouse stuff, but hey, that's politics for you. 

That all brings me back to the current message I got from Normally, I don't read pres-o-spam, but this one had a subject line that seemed so badly formatted, I was convinced it was actually some kind of malware or phishing scam.


It was neither a malware nor phishing scam. I checked, and the message was, in fact, from For some reason, one Kathy Gasperine, the Development Director of Organizing for Action, seemed to think it was okay to scold me for not sending her five bucks — one measly Lincoln.

Apparently, the President isn't just inspired by Lincoln (the man), he wants to collect Lincolns (the bucks). Sorry, I gave at the tax return.

I'll show you the full letter at the end of this column, but what got me writing to begin with was the following sentence right at the beginning of her letter:

"I was looking at our records associated with this exact email address — and it looks like you haven't chipped in yet."

Can you see what got my attention? Yeah, I'll bet you do. A representative of the President was telling me she was "looking at our records associated with this exact email address." Looking at our records...

I don't know about you, but after spending weeks reading and writing about the NSA mess, getting a note from the President's fundraising team telling me they were looking at records associated with my email address just raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

Now, speaking personally, I know the government has all sorts of records on me, because I've got a certain series of relationships with certain governmental organizations. So I generally expect my records to be watched. Frankly, all of you watch all my stuff like a hawk, and I've even shared my fixations with horseradish and coffee over Twitter, so it's not exactly like I, personally, live a private life.

Even so, this sort of sentence is just the sort of goof the President doesn't need to be making right now. Oh, and you know what else kind of gave me the willies? I got two emails. One came to my public account that everyone has (including every spammer on the planet). But another email came to one of my private email addresses that's not out there in public view.

I'm not saying there's anything nefarious here, but this isn't exactly the best season for the President to take this creepy approach, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, that's enough whining for today. Here's the full letter.



Topics: Security, Government : US


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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