Federal Government Still Covering Up for Telecom Carriers

The federal government is back in court, desperately providing cover for the major telecom companies accused of doing its bidding by spying on Americans. The Bush Administration urged a federal judge in San Francisco Tuesday to back off from holding the telecom providers responsible for their actions.

Should legislation that bars lawsuits against the telecoms for allegedly violating privacy laws be upheld? Yes, according to the Bush Administration, according to this blog post. Why? Terrorism, of course. The telecoms were just being good citizens by passing personal information along to the feds without a court warrant.

I just don't understand why AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and other company executives can't understand the requirement for judicial warrants when engaging in alleged domestic spying. (For some reason, executives at Qwest were able to grasp this concept and did not go blindly along following the desires of the Bush Justice Department.) A judge is now being told he shouldn't be "second-guessing" the Bush Administration. As a matter of fact, that is precisely what judges are supposed to do under the system if checks-and-balances that the Bush Administration and its corporate buddies find so inconvenient.

The telecom "immunization law" passed by Congress last summer lets the U.S. Attorney General decide who to excuse from any liability. (President-elect Obama was among those Senators voting for this bizarre provision, by the way, a sop to the upcoming election.) The Electronic Frontier Foundation is quite correct in its legal assertion that the telecom carriers have an independent duty to protect their customers, despite what the government may desire. I don't know whether illegal spying occurred or not -- but I do know that my service provider, ATT, should be backing up my right to Internet and telephone privacy.

If this appalling telecom immunity law stands, no one is going to know what the telecom providers did, why they did it, who ordered them to do it and what they got back in return. It's a coverup. The telecom giants and the government may not be guilty, but they sure are acting like they have plenty to hide.


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