Come On, Everybody’s Doing It

Turns out AT&T isn’t the only telecommunications company subverting the Constitution (not to mention FCC regulations) by illegally turning over your personal phone records directly to the NSA.

All of them — with the notable exception of Qwest — are doing it. Don’t get me wrong — I can see the knee-jerk instinct to do whatever we can to protect our nation from another terrorist attack. But if we’ve seen anything, it’s that there is absolutely no possible way for this type of blanket information gathering to do anything toward that goal. Not a thing. There’s just too much information and not enough ability to focus efforts.

What this type of data mining does do — in fact, the only thing it can do — is provide the NSA (and, by extension, every other government agency they might choose to share it with) with enough information to target American citizens at will. So no, they can’t look at the wealth of information and pick out any reasonable proportion of terrorist activity, but they can pick out a sampling of people they just want to go after. Say, everyone who called the ACLU. Or everyone who called a particular (liberal) candidate’s campaign headquarters.

And there is absolutely nothing to stop them. No checks whatsoever. We’re just supposed to believe that — out of their deep and abiding sense of ethics — they’ll just choose to avoid that type of activity.

Horseshit. They’re spies. That’s what they do. They don’t have ethics.

And I’m not necessarily saying they’re supposed to — they’re not elected officials. We’d be idiots to think that they won’t do absolutely everything they can get away with. It’s our responsibility to force them to behave ethically. Which is frankly why I’m as pissed off (or nearly so) at a Congress that may have known about this and failed to stop it as I am at the dictatorial administration that initiated it.

Unfortunately, as Qwest only operates in the Northwest, I don’t have the option of abandoning my current telecommunications services. But I am damn well going to be sure I follow the progress of the EFF’s class-action lawsuit, and not rest until every one of these treasonous corporations (and that’s exactly what they are — betraying the bedrock of this country to satisfy the power-mad whims of a petty dictator) is forced to pay the full amount of possible fines for this explicitly illegal violation. Not to mention that criminal charges are filed against those executives who — unlike the unrelentingly patriotic Qwest heads Joe Nacchio and later Richard Notebaert — turned their backs on their country and authorized it: C. Michael Armstrong, F. Duane Ackerman, Ed Whitacre, and Ivan Seidenberg.

Those fines, incidentally, come out to $130,000 per day per violation. That’s capped at $1.325 million per violation — but with billions of violations at hand, we might be talking about some real money here.

In related news, Americans are fucking morons. Not surprising, in that these are the same idiots who elected Duh-bya, but still disappointing. Particularly when this revelation comes on the heels of an indication that — with Chancellor Strauch’s approval ratings rapidly approaching Nixonian levels (29 percent, as compared with Nixon’s end-of-term 24 percent) — they’re starting to grow something resembling a brain.

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