There's Patriotism, But Then There's Cash

Like many, I have been both appalled at the federal domestic spying program and the subsequent the effort to undermine the Rule of Law by granting the telcos retroactive immunity. Which is why I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this USA today story reporting that the telcos shut down wiretaps legally authorized under FISA because the FBI failed to make the requisite billing payments.

But, but, but…..I thought the telcos were noble friends and patriots, who only violated our civil liberties because the government asked them to “do the right thing” and “step up to the plate” to help our national security. You don’t mean to tell me that these noble, brave, patriotic telcos — that, in the words of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) “deserve our thanks, not a flurry of lawsuits” — these true Amerian heroes who so bravely, gladly, and swiftly, and without a moment’s hesitation, broke the law to spy on their customers like you and me, would let a matter of mere money stop them from doing their patriotic duty? You don’t mean to say that when a wiretap is actually legally authorized under the existing law, that the telcos would stop their monitoring of genuinely proven security threats over a trivial matter of a late bill, would they?

Not that I or anyone else should be surprised. “To thine own self be true,” says the Bard of Stratford on Avon, and corporations are profit maximizing firms. Small wonder they will break the law and sell us out in a heartbeat to suck up to the government in the hope of future favors (like, say, subsequent approval of mergers without conditions) while suddenly not giving a rat’s patootie about “national security” or “stopping the next 9/11” when the FBI misses a payment. After all, it’s OK to break the law and abet violations of the constitution to screw your customers, but you wouldn’t want to violate your fiduciary duty to your shareholders.

Even patriotism and national security have their limits, apparently. At least where corporations are concerned.

Explain to me again, Rep. Smith, why these companies “deserve our thanks, not a flurry of lawsuits?” Ah yes, because unlike the FBI, AT&T is NEVER late with the PAC donation check.

Stay tuned . . . .

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One Comment

  1. Ian says:

    Hmm. I assumed that the FBI starts lots of taps, then only pays for the ones that prove to be promising. The thing I can’t get is how the FBI doesn’t have to have a 2-year contract with a massive cancellation penalty.

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