Blown To Bits

Warrentless Wiretapping

Friday, June 20th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

I would not have wanted to be in the position of the telephone company executives who had to decide whether to wiretap American citizens illegally at the request of the government. At least I assume there was some such scenario, someone in the telcos who hesitated a moment about the right and wrong of the decision. Was it presented as something patriotic and, if arguably illegal, something for which the telcos were assured a later get-out-of-jail-free card? Or was it presented as more of a threat, with the government reminding the executives that they were in a highly regulated business, and the FCC and other authorities could make unrelated decisions that hurt the profits of uncooperative carriers in the future?

Probably we’ll never know, because the matter will never come to trial. The companies are being given immunity from private lawsuits by citizens who were illegally wiretapped. The New York Times story seems reasonably fair, and quotes one of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawyers.

So a Democratic congress has bailed out a Republican president’s illegal methods of surveillance on American citizens. The re-upped FISA seems to have some “never again” language along with the immunity provisions, but as a way to run the country we seem to have taken a great leap: The executive commands private businesses to do something illegal to private citizens, the corporations cooperate, and after the fact, the legislature bails out the executive branch and protects the profits of the corporations in one fell swoop.

Of the people, by the people, and for the people?

One Response to “Warrentless Wiretapping”

  1. Blown to Bits » Blog Archive » Alert: Political Contributions Buy Votes Says:

    […] validated the unconstitutional government wiretapping under FISA discussed in earlier posts (here, here, and here). Now it turns out, thanks to excellent research by, that House members who […]