Micronesia and other countries in the region have their own Social Security Administrations which gave out numbers to residents applying for US disaster relief loans.
Since the loan originated in the US, the US would be the one to administer it. Part of getting a loan in the US is that copies of it get sent to the reporting bureaus. So, the Micronesians gave a SSN as an identifier, and some idiot somewhere decided it would be great if they just used that to identify the people on the application, regardless of country of origin, which is GP's point.
I worked at a grocery store and can tell you for a fact that the meat guys didn't always give out fresh meat.
You know what, though? Nobody got sick enough from our store that they did anything about it. Why? Probably because they didn't get sick.
The point here is that most of the time, the things people get paranoid about are harmless. It generally takes maliciousness or severe neglect to really screw someone over, and both are actionable offenses.
Well, in the case of American public officials, after the NYT v. Sullivan decision actual malice must first be shown. This is to say that the author intended to damage the target as opposed to merely voicing a strong negative opinion. In the case of private individuals, it is a statutory matter. The legal level of determining fault in the case of a private figure is somewhere between the aforementioned actual malice and above strict liability as decided under Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts . Your Scientology and Streisand examples would fall under this sort of precedent and only really succeed because they can buy the better lawyers (and laws, for that matter).
As mentioned by other comments, the intent of the First Amendment is to limit governmental powers. Here, the authors of the Constitution were dealing with an oppressive govt. (not like UK libel laws are any better now) and sought to limit the amount of govt. control on criticism.
In short, since there is a legitimate interest in criticism of public officials that does not apply to criticism of individuals, there are different standards of protection from criticism.
I'm MSIE the 8th I am. MSIE the 8th I am, I am. I got bested by the browser next door. We've been tryin' 7 times before. And everyone was an MSIE. We wouldn't pass an AcidTest, no ma'am. I'm the User Agent MSIE, MSIE the 8th I am, I am. MSIE the 8th I am.
The decision doesn't have to be logical; it was unanimous.