Telco lobbyists urge suppression of eavesdropping lawsuits: is this OK?

 Image is from the Saturday Evening Post of June 6, 1964.How little has changed.



Image is from the Saturday Evening Post of June 6, 1964.

How little has changed.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball have the scoop on a joint effort by Verizon, AT&T and the Bush administration to pass legislation that would blog all lawsuits against these phone companies for assisting the U.S. intelligence community’s warrantless surveillance programs.

Fears are said to be largely driven by the possibility that a U.S. Appellate Court in San Francisco soon may rule that private lawsuits against this warrantless program may proceed.

If that happens, Iskikoff and Hosenball speculate The telecom companies may then be forced to either stop this collaboration with U.S. intelligence agencies, or run the risk of "crippling damage awards."

"It’s not an exaggeration to say the U.S. intelligence community is in a near-panic about this,” said one communications industry lawyer who spoke on background to the Newsweek staffers.

Privacy advocates feel differently.


"They are trying to completely immunize this [the surveillance program] from any kind of judicial review,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation legal director Cindy Cohn to Isikoff and Hosenball. "I find it a little shocking that Congress would participate in the covering up of what has been going on."

I personally see a great bit of irony here. "They hate us for their freedoms," President Bush has often said of the 9/11 terrorists and their surviving sympathizers. But is the price of vigilance giving up some of our freedoms "they" "hate us" for?

Plus, any terrorist dumb enough to talk on a phone line he suspects must be tapped isn't the type of terrorist we really should be scared about.

What do you think?

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