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:
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?