Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Mr. Beale and I contracted some form of viral plague in New York, so blogging has been light. However, I know the Senate had a big FISA vote yesterday, and it looks like the Senate hung together to fillibuster the thing. Glenn Greenwald has the goods.

I’m sure the Republicans will be up to their usual screetching about terrorists, but we all know this has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with protecting corporate cronies at Big Telecom. Liberals refer to it as telecom immunity, neocons as “liability protection,” but it all comes down to protecting AT&T and Verizon Wireless from scores of lawsuits because they knowingly broke the law.

Last night President Bush said we have to protect these companies that helped “defend America,” but the irony is, these telecom companies stopped “defending America” when the FBI stopped paying the bills:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau's repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A Justice Department audit released Thursday blamed the lost connections on the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. In one office alone, unpaid costs for wiretaps from one phone company totaled $66,000.

In at least one case, a wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act investigation "was halted due to untimely payment," the audit found. FISA wiretaps are used in the government's most sensitive and secretive criminal and intelligence investigations, and allow eavesdropping on suspected terrorists or spies.

"We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence," according to the audit by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

Heh. Looks like Big Telecom doesn’t care about defending America so much, since they’re all too eager to pull the plug when the bills aren’t paid. That’s patriotism for you--the free market kind.

The War On Terror is and always has been a giant farce, and telecom immunity/"liability protrection" is just another piece of theater.