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Uh-oh!
Once more into the breach: The latest in a long line of mea culprits

By Monica Hesse and Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shocking news just broke that more than 30 lawmakers are under investigation by the House ethics committee. Who was blamed for releasing the confidential sleuthing report? A low-level staffer, natch, the Official Scapegoat of Washington. ¶ The staffer had apparently stored the file on a home computer with file-sharing software used for downloading free music and movies. Ruh-roh! ¶ Accidents happen . . . and happen. . . . and happen -- and not just with computers. In fact, "Oops, my bad!" has long been the mantra of the government drone -- and the phrase translates in any means of communication.

HAND-DELIVERED LETTER

A Confederate soldier accidentally drops Robert E. Lee's battle plans, wrapped around cigars, in a Maryland field. The plans are discovered by a Union soldier. Just in time for Antietam. 1862

TELEGRAM

Foreign Secretary of the German Empire Arthur Zimmerman telegraphs his ambassador in Mexico, instructing him to promise support for a Mexican invasion of the United States. Unfortunately, the telegram was sent on British cables (the German cables were wrecked). The Brits intercept it. The Americans declare war on Germany. 1917

ADDRESS BOOK

CIA agent Bernard Barker leaves his address book in a hotel room with a little notation reading "WH HH." As in White House. And a White House consultant named Howard Hunt. Watergate ensues. 1972

INTERNET BULLETIN BOARD

The Treasury Department, in an effort to collect -- and thereby prevent -- computer viruses, instead makes the viruses available to the public on its Automated Information System bulletin board. 1993

SNAIL MAIL

New Jersey politician Mike Mostovlyan means to send a book to a Pennsylvania mayor who is convalescing in a hospital but mislabels the package; instead sends her the parcel meant for a friend. It contains dead fish. 1993

LAND LINE

An IRS worker makes a typo when releasing the phone number for a free helpline. Confused callers to the IRS hear "Hi, sexy" and are encouraged to express their "phone fantasies" for up to $3.99 a minute. 1995

FACEBOOK

At a social gathering, Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau is photographed groping a cardboard cutout of Hillary Rodham Clinton. The pics appear on his Facebook wall . . . then on everybody's Facebook wall. 2008

PACKAGE DELIVERY

The Pentagon fesses up to accidentally sending four fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles to Taiwan. 2008

CELLPHONE

Soldier Stephen Phillips accidentally phones home during a pitched battle in Afghanistan, leaving a three-minute voice mail filled with the sound of gunfire and cussing. "I hope someone gives him more ammo," his stepfather tells ABC. 2008

ONLINE FILE-SHARING

Plans of Marine One, the presidential helicopter, are accidentally made available to the public when, it was speculated, a defense contractor downloaded a file-sharing service -- yes -- to share music. 2009

GOVERNMENT WEB SITE

Maps showing precise locations of enriched-uranium stockpiles for nuclear weapons went public when the Government Printing Office accidentally posted them on its Web site. 2009

FAX

Dozens of medical providers in Tennessee send confidential patient records to a business in Indiana after being given the wrong fax number by the Tennessee Department of Human Services. 2009

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