By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Petraeus sex scandal raises questions about privacy that could affect every American who goes online.
A lesson for all of us - what starts as a government search for crime on the web can turn into an invasion of the private lives of Americans. and don't think it couldn't happen to you.
In this case, what began as an investigation into alleged harassing e-mails from one woman to another wound up exposing an extramarital affair and bringing down the director of the CIA.
One electronic privacy expert tells The New York Times that cyber-investigations can rapidly become open-ended since there's such a huge amount of information available and it's so easy to search:
"If the CIA Director can get caught, it's pretty much open season on everyone else."
The ACLU questions what surveillance powers the FBI used to look into the private lives of Generals Petraeus and Allen. We still don't know, but it could include methods like subpoenas and search warrants.
And then there's this : Google acknowledges it passed information to authorities in response to 93 percent of government requests in the second half of 2011.
It's a tricky balance: National Security experts warn of a major cyber attack that could bring the country to its knees. But does that mean Americans must give up all rights to their privacy?
Some are especially concerned about the National Security Agency. Those would be the same folks who conducted warrantless wiretapping of Americans after the 9/11 attacks. Remember the Patriot Act?
Here’s my question to you: In light of the Petraeus scandal, is anything we do online really private?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Secret Service Colombian prostitution scandal keeps heating up, and it's unclear whether resignations of the agents at the center of it will put out the fire.
More resignations are expected this week, in addition to the three we already know about.
Eleven members of the Secret Service, including 20-year-veterans, have been implicated. They're accused of bringing at least 20 prostitutes to their hotel in Cartagena ahead of last week's visit by President Barack Obama.
As many as 10 members of the U.S. military are also being questioned about potential misconduct. This includes five members of the elite Army Special Forces.
It's a mess, and it's a national disgrace, not to mention a potential security risk for the president.
So what's being done in Washington? The House Oversight Committee is investigating. Also, there will likely be a review board set up to find out whether this was an isolated incident or part of a broader agency culture.
But some people don't think this is enough. At least one congressman, Republican Randy Forbes of Virginia, is calling for Mark Sullivan, the Secret Service director, to be fired.
Forbes says it's time to put someone else in charge to change the culture at the agency.
Mitt Romney says he'd "clean house" at the Secret Service. The likely Republican presidential nominee says he would fire the agents involved. But Romney, like Obama, says he has confidence in the director.
Sullivan has been director of the agency since May 2006. That means the 2009 security breach at the White House involving two party crashers at Obama's first state dinner also happened on his watch.
Here’s my question to you: What's the right punishment in the Secret Service scandal?
Your government gone wild.
As details of the Secret Service and GSA scandals emerge, there's a growing sense that Washington isn't always working for the people who pay their salaries - that would be us, the taxpayers.
The Secret Service has now yanked the security clearances of 11 members accused of bringing prostitutes to a Colombian hotel.
The investigation also includes at least five - maybe even 10 - members of the U.S. military who were working there ahead of President Obama's trip. Reuters reports there were as many as 21 prostitutes.
If true, it's more than disgraceful. It's a threat to national security.
There are reports that some of the Secret Service agents who brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms had copies of the president's schedule in their rooms and they were apparently bragging that they were there to protect President Obama.
It's not the first time the Secret Service has lapsed. The most glaring example was in 2009, when an uninvited couple managed to crash a White House state dinner. They were inside the White House mingling with the president and his guests.
Meanwhile the GSA official at the center of that $800,000 lavish conference is refusing to answer questions.
Jeff Neely - who organized the 2010 conference in Las Vegas - repeatedly took the Fifth Amendment when questioned before Congress. His former boss has already resigned in disgrace. Neely might face a federal criminal investigation.
While the GSA was spending hundreds of thousands of your dollars on things like commemorative coins, a team-building exercise, and a mind reader as entertainment, the Senate yesterday voted on whether to raise taxes some more.
This is the kind of stuff that makes Americans increasingly disgusted with their government. So far President Obama hasn't said a lot about any of this. Maybe it's time he did.
Here’s my question to you: In light of the Secret Service and GSA scandals, who is minding the store?
As the Penn State child sex abuse scandal continues to grow, there are more questions about how the situation got so out of hand.
And at least part of that answer lies in the outsized influence of sports teams on college campuses around the country.
At Penn state, football is a religion; and for almost five decades, legendary coach Joe Paterno was a god.
That could be why officials looked the other way when they learned an assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was allegedly raping little boys.
It appears that Penn State cared more about protecting the football program than protecting the children - sort of the same way the Catholic Church responded to its own child sex abuse scandal.
Of course, big sports also means big money for these colleges. With big money comes the potential for corruption and misplaced priorities. Oftentimes, people affiliated with these sports programs develop a sense of entitlement.
As one expert tells The Boston Globe, "You're making a deal with the devil. These programs become larger than life. It has nothing to do with higher education."
What's ironic is that Penn State was a college known for running a clean football program, yet it has still managed to land itself in what is arguably one of the worst scandals to ever hit a college campus.
Some people think it's way past time to take a hard look at the role of college football or basketball teams. But others say it won't make much of a difference; that the culture is way too powerful and deeply entrenched.
Here’s my question to you: What role did the outsized influence of college sports play in the Penn State child sex abuse scandal?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Penn State is having its own Catholic Church moment.
The university has been rocked to its core by the child sex abuse scandal.
A scandal that escalated because those in power seemingly either looked the other way or helped cover up what was going on in order to protect one of their own.
The legendary football coach Joe Paterno was told back in 2002 that a graduate assistant had seen his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, rape a young boy in a shower at the football complex. Paterno told his boss, which was apparently all that the law required, but he didn't tell the police.
According to grand jury testimony, Sandusky allegedly fondled and had oral and anal sex with boys for at least 15 years. Fifteen years! And Penn State officials could have stopped it nine years ago.
The university's board is cleaning house, as well they should. They fired Paterno and the school's president, Graham Spanier.
Paterno had wanted to coach the team's last home game of the season Saturday and then resign after the football season ended. You have to give credit to the Penn State board for saying: You're not resigning, you're not retiring, you're fired - get out!
As for the hundreds of Penn State students who rioted on the campus Wednesday night - they ought to be kicked out of school. How dare they act like this because they like a football coach?
These punks are not intellectually equipped to attend an institution of higher learning. How would they feel if it was their little brother who was raped? Their behavior is disgusting and a testament to the outsized role sports plays in American society.
Granted, this is a sad way for the winningest coach in major college football to end a storied career.
But it didn't have to end this way. Joe Paterno himself could have prevented it by applying the same life lessons he preached to his players for 46 years to himself.
Here’s my question to you: How can Penn State University restore its reputation?
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) encounters a group of reporters as he leaves his office. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
Watching Wolf' Blitzer's interview with Congressman Anthony Weiner yesterday was sort of like watching one of those Buddhist monks set himself on fire. You feel bad for the guy, but it's impossible not to watch it.
Weiner has spent a lot of time trying to talk himself out of a hole over the past few days, but the hole may be getting deeper.
The incident in question - a lewd photo sent from Weiner's Twitter account to a female college student that went out to 45,000 other people as well - was bad enough. But watching the way Weiner's been handling the media circus surrounding it is even worse. And it could kill his career.
Maybe he should take a lesson from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Yesterday we reported Christie flew a state helicopter to his son's baseball game. Bad move for a budget conscious guy many hope will run for president. But today he admitted he made a mistake and said he'll pay for the cost out of his own pocket - $2,500. Chances are he won't do that again and the story now will go away.
For Weiner, that's not happening.
Prior to what's now being called Weinergate, the congressman, an outspoken but articulate liberal, has been rumored to be considering a run for mayor of New York City in 2013. The events of the past week could endanger that.
Weiner represents a district in Queens and Brooklyn that traditionally votes Democratic. Last year, he faced his toughest battle for re-election in his 13-year congressional career, winning just 59 percent of the votes. In all previous races, he won more than 66 percent of the votes.
Of course, a run is still two years off, and a lot can happen in politics - and political scandals - in that time.
Here’s my question to you: Can Rep. Anthony Weiner survive Weinergate?
If the Vatican won't clean it up, there's another way to get the Catholic Church's attention... when it comes to a global sex scandal involving the molestation of tens of thousands of little children at the hands of priests.
Take the pope's native Germany for example: When the news broke there and the church opened a hotline meant for victims of abuse, more than 4,000 people called in on the first day alone. The system was overwhelmed and therapists were only able to answer 160 calls.
But more importantly - as the scandal grows, the church in Germany is starting to suffer the fate that maybe it deserves: People are leaving in droves. One recent survey shows a quarter of Catholics in Germany say they've lost faith in the church's leadership.
Meanwhile, Easter Sunday has come and gone with little from the Church - the pope passed up another opportunity to address the scandal in his address. But we did get this: While defending the pope, one top cardinal denounced "petty gossip." That's what he called the accusations of sexual abuse of children by priests... "petty gossip."
If the pope and the rest of the church hierarchy remain silent on this scandal long enough, there may be nobody left in the pews to talk to about it. My guess is when the money that hits the collection plates every Sunday begins to disappear, the church may suddenly decide that it's time to admit, address and confess what they've been only too willing to turn a blind eye to for years and years and years.
Here’s my question to you: In light of the worldwide child sex abuse scandal, what’s the future of the Catholic Church?
Here we go again. Time now for another chapter in the tawdry tale titled: The Pope and the Pedophile Priests.
The New York Times reports that top Vatican officials - including the future Pope Benedict XVI - refused to defrock a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys.
Deaf boys? Doesn't get much sicker than that. This is despite the fact that several American bishops repeatedly warned the Vatican about this creep.
Church files show that although officials disagreed about whether the priest should be dismissed, their top priority was protecting the church from scandal. Of course.
This Wisconsin priest - the Rev. Lawrence Murphy - was never tried or disciplined by the church. He also got a pass from police and the criminal justice system. We all know the story by now... Instead he was "quietly moved" to a different diocese where he spent the last 24 years of his life freely working… ready? With children! He died in 1998... still a priest.
The Vatican calls this case "tragic" and says part of the reason the priest was never defrocked was his poor health and lack of more recent accusations.
Meanwhile this comes on the heels of a sex abuse scandal spreading across Europe - From the pope's native Germany to Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands.
There are other accusations against Pope Benedict that he didn't alert authorities or discipline priests who were sexually abusing children, when he was both an Archbishop in Germany and the Vatican's top doctrinal enforcer.
Critics say it's time for the pope to resign. But that's only happened a handful of times throughout history - and not for 600 years - so don't hold your breath.
Here’s my question to you: In light of the pope’s role in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, should he resign?
Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada is just another example of what's wrong with Congress. Ensign tells CNN he didn't break Senate ethics rules... when he helped get a lobbying job for the husband of his mistress. Ensign claims he was very careful and merely "recommended" this man for a job like he's recommended a lot of other people.
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) speaks during a mark up hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill.
But the New York Times recently reported that the senator played an active role in getting the lobbying position for Doug Hampton - whose wife he was sleeping with. And - that Hampton went on to lobby Ensign on behalf of his clients - which he's not supposed to do. Ethics rules bar him from lobbying his old boss for a year after leaving his job on Capitol Hill.
But this slime ball senator insists he did nothing wrong here. Senator, it's ALL wrong. When asked if he has any plans to resign - Ensign says: "I am focused on doing my work."
Now the Senate Ethics Committee (which is an oxymoron) has started a preliminary investigation... which, if history is any judge, is meaningless. They won't do anything... they never do when judging one of their own. The whole thing is a joke and shows the impunity with which these arrogant elected scumbags operate.
Meanwhile Republicans in Nevada and Washington say Ensign can survive this thing politically - unless he really gets slammed by the Ethics committee - or if the situation is referred for a criminal investigation. Don't hold your breath.
Here’s my question to you: In light of ethics revelations about Sen. John Ensign, why hasn’t he resigned?
Questions about tax issues have now clouded three nominations. (PHOTO CREDIT: JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
President Obama says he "screwed up” when it came to the nomination of Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary. No kidding.
Daschle dropped out after days of questioning about more than $100,000 in unpaid taxes. President Obama says it's important for his administration to send a message that there aren't two sets of rules when it comes to paying taxes - for prominent people and for ordinary folks. That might prompt one to ask, "Then why do you keep nominating people who haven't paid their taxes for high ranking positions in your administration?"
Questions about tax issues have now clouded three nominations. Besides Daschle, another top appointee, Nancy Killefer, pulled her name from consideration as chief White House Performance officer – because of unpaid taxes for a household employee. And then, of course, there was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He was eventually confirmed by the Senate – but only after days of scrutiny and numerous public apologies. The man who will now oversee the IRS failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes himself.
None of this is good news for the Obama administration. It opens up the White House to a lot of criticism from Republicans and on newspaper editorial pages. They say President Obama preaches one thing – ethics, responsibility, etc. – but practices another. It also raises serious questions about the administration's vetting process. Who keeps submitting the names of tax cheats for high-powered jobs in Obama's administration?
Here’s my question to you: How does nominating three people who didn't pay their taxes affect President Obama's credibility?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
About Jack Cafferty
Subscribe | Send Feedback