BushCo and the phone companies

Three good pieces:

(1) Bush and the Phone Companies: Partners in Crime
(2) Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm Qwest Feared NSA Plan Was Illegal, Filing Says
(3) Verizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders

(1)

Bush and the Phone Companies: Partners in Crime
Posted October 11, 2007

Phone companies have opened a new front in their campaign against the free flow of information. This time they’ve found a powerful ally in the White House.

AT&T and Verizon have already shown their disdain for free speech and Net Neutrality, and their eagerness to let government spies lurk on our phone calls. Now, their lobbyists have teamed with President George Bush to strong arm Congress into granting full immunity for a disturbing array of illegal and unconstitutional acts.

Bush: Siding with AT&T and against the rest of us

A handful of legislators, though, are holding out against the pressure, which is no small feat given the extreme powers behind the amnesty grab.

Read more.

(2)
Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm
Qwest Feared NSA Plan Was Illegal, Filing Says
By Ellen Nakashima and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 13, 2007; A01

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio’s lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans’ phone records.

Read more.

Verizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders
Firm’s Letter to Lawmakers Details Government Requests
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; A01

Verizon Communications, the nation’s second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers’ telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005.

The company said it does not determine the requests’ legality or necessity because to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminal investigations.

In an Oct. 12 letter replying to Democratic lawmakers, Verizon offered a rare glimpse into the way telecommunications companies cooperate with government requests for information on U.S. citizens.

Verizon also disclosed that the FBI, using administrative subpoenas, sought information identifying not just a person making a call, but all the people that customer called, as well as the people those people called. Verizon does not keep data on this “two-generation community of interest” for customers, but the request highlights the broad reach of the government’s quest for data.

Read more.

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