Only Following Orders

Did you see former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s op-ed in this morning’s New York Times? My blood began to boil.

This is one of those stories where a very limited subset of the full facts are known to mere mortals like you and me. It seems the federal government asked the major phone companies for all sorts of data on phone customers. That would be people like you and me.

The phone companies rolled over like a collie waiting for a treat.

What kind of data? Who knows.

Did they allow the government to listen in? I wish I knew.

Whatever it was, it was probably illegal. The phone companies are now sweating because they’re being sued.

When the White House asks you to help in surveillance, do you say yes in spite of the law? What if you’re a big business and feel a significant portion of that will go away if you say no?

I say, “no.” Our personal liberties are among the most important rights granted in the Constitution.

Here’s what Ashcroft said:

Whatever one feels about the underlying intelligence activities or the legal basis on which they were initially established, it would be unfair and contrary to the interests of the United States to allow litigation that tries to hold private telecommunications companies liable for them.

You’ve got to suspect these telecom giants are lawyered to the teeth. They knew what they were doing. I was only following orders doesn’t work here… at least it doesn’t work for me.

I lived through the sixties and seventies. I still have a bad taste in my mouth about government surveillance, whether it be against Dr. Martin Luther King or war protesters.

Our government has worked so well for over 200 years because our rule of law is based on what’s written, not who is elected.

Oh… did I mention, John Ashcroft is now a lobbyists for the telecommunications industry?

2 thoughts on “Only Following Orders”

  1. hate to be long winded , but here is a post from my blog on 10/28

    i wanted to say a few words about life after 9/11 . i feel that thru a several sets of circumstances that our country has taken a turn for the worst. i feel that on the road we are going that we will be no better than some of the worst nations in history. i find it amazed that thru scare tactics we were so willing to give up so many of our civil liberty’s , it is now legal to listen to phone calls , read emails and all our other commuications , the is a bill now that calls for ” telecommunications amnesty ” it seems all the telecommunications ( except quest ) were in bed with the goverment on intercepting calls , emails and etc. if what they were doing were legal then why do they need amnesty? is it because people had thier doors broken down in the middle of the night and detained little old ladies and children on bad intel? who do these people sue to get thier lives back? the same goverment that violated thier civil rights? no, the telecommunications industry. remember these are the same companies ( att , comcast , verizon and all the others , except quest ) who provide your internet service , the same internet you use to do your banking , refill your prescriptions , make trades , check credit card balances . how many questionable searches have you done on a search engine that you would be ashamed of ? we have given every bit of our personal lives away to be public information. we have let the goverment into the place that was always protected and sacred by the constitution , our home , and we did it willingly. think about how much info you give away the next time you go shopping at stop & shop , big y or shaws every time you swipe your ” savings card ” over time they now your whole shopping habits, shopping on the 1st and 15th , your on welfare , the 1st and you buy geritol , your retired , diapers , a baby , tums , ulcers . you may not realise it but you are giving away so much info everytime you swipe that card.

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