Oct 17 2007
06:25 am

Verizon is taking a lot of heat for disclosing that they released calling records to the government more than 700 times without a warrant.

From what I understand, they are the first phone company to respond to Congressional inquiries. Maybe they are trying to get out in front of a bad story, or maybe they are blowing the whistle on these programs.

I doubt that their stated reason (urgency of national security requests) is the whole story. They're probably more interested in immunity at this point.

I have to agree with Bush on this one...

They should be given retroactive blanket immunity. Then they can disclose what they know so creeps in the Bush administration and the Justice Department who are violating the Constitution they have sworn to uphold can be found out and prosecuted.

Further, phone companies, banks, credit card companies, etc. should all be given blanket immunity relating to compliance with a government request. Why should they be required to have lawyers to double check everything their government demands or spend millions defending the government's actions in court?

Besides the fact that they shouldn't have to do the government's job and that they should be able to trust the government to act legally, they are under a lot of government pressure from other angles -- for licensing, frequency allocations, and all sorts of regulation. They're not going to ask questions because it's in their best interest to cooperate.

So yes, give them all immunity. Then, require them to disclose all such requests to Congress or the appropriate oversight agency. Then shutdown all these illegal wiretapping operations and prosecute those responsible. Then repeal the quasi-legal Patriot Act fishing licenses and get back to running our country according to the Constitution.

Or elect another Republican and invade Iran. Whatever.

bizgrrl's picture

Yes. And I would like to

Yes. And I would like to hear from the other cell phone companies. The way the press is pushing this story, I believe we are supposed to be real mad at Verizon. Geez, I just added a new service to my Verizon account. Don't want to discontinue my service. I'll wait for the rest of the story.

WhitesCreek's picture

I hate to go against you,

I hate to go against you, Randy, but I see no conection between making them tell everything they know about the Administration's Constitutional crimes and giving the phone companies immunity.

Several companies refused to comply, by the way.

Let's see how much cooperation we get and then we can discuss forgiveness, not immunity.


Carole Borges's picture

It is important we know the amount of the requests

Seven hundred compliances by one company does seem like a lot if it's only one year. That could mean thousands if you add up all the carriers. How many real national security events using the phone actually occured?

I think every company should report the yearly totals, and in secret session, the National Security Council should be given copies of the requests and a random sampling of transcripts from the calls. That would be honest transparency.

This idea that there are things going on that no one in the Congrss should know abut stinks. Without disclosure there is no oversight.

Immunity does allow more information to flow, but it should be limited immunity. If criminal acts were involved, they have to be held accpountable.

With the President and his henchmen breathing down their backs. the phone companies didn't have much choice really to do this. It's the present and future danger of these practices that seem most important. What they did in the past is relevant, but it's less important to punish them for it. I'd give them immunity and encourage them to become whistleblowers.

Andy Axel's picture

You probably lose any

You probably lose any leverage you have with the telcos by giving them immunity.

The real problem with going after the government on this is that no one will hold anyone to any kind of account. Are we looking to the Congress to make that happen? The press? Angry bloggers?

Oh, wait. Brittney turned herself in. That's news...


"Respect mah authoritah!" - Fred Cartman Thompson

cafkia's picture


Just how many hundreds of new and used MBAs & lawyers do you think Verizon employs? Why was there not one of them who would see something suspicious about an emergency request coming in everyday and still no subpoenas? Why didn't one of them ask for a retroactive subpoena? Why didn't one of them think of a blanket subpoena? Hell No! No immunity, period. This was an active and aware collusion on their part. They willingly and knowingly aided and abetted the circumvention of the law.

I say hang the bastards!



It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

Sven's picture

I'd condition any offer of

I'd condition any offer of immunity on a full explanation of how the program(s) were presented to the telecoms.

If the telecoms were swayed by official opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel, they were probably justified in believing they stood on firm legal ground. However, if they went along just to get along (and therefore stay in the running for lucrative federal contracts), they in no way deserve a pass.

Sarge's picture

Verizon could have said NO.

Verizon could have said NO. NO IMMUNITY for caving in.

rikki's picture

get 'em, boys

I'd give immunity to the bubonic plague if it meant Rumsfeld and Cheney would get what they deserve, but I have no confidence that anyone with power is willing to stand up to those traitors. This country has become Worthless and Weak. The only real hope is a military coup, and I would support our troops if they decide that is the only way to get a competent commander.

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