(Don’t know how this didn’t get promoted! Better late than never! – promoted by buhdydharma )
The US government doesn’t have to reveal information about phone companies that may have spied illegally on Americans because those phone companies are an “arm of the government,” the US Justice Department argued in a recent court case.
But, yes, that is what the DoJ is arguing in court…
Here it is… the point where our government totally jumps the shark…
In a lawsuit over the Bush administration’s decision to give immunity to telecom companies over its warrantless wiretapping program, the Justice Department argued that it doesn’t have to publicly reveal what it discussed with the phone companies because those discussions were “inter-agency communications,” explains Ryan Singel at Wired.
Here’s Wired’s take on the case:
The Department of Justice has finally admitted it in court papers: The nation’s telecom companies are an arm of the government – at least when it comes to secret spying.
Fortunately, a judge says that relationship isn’t enough to squash a rights group’s open records request for communications between the nation’s telecoms and the feds.
What “agency” communications coming from the telecom companies could possibly be considered “inter-agency”, ie, government-to-government? Why, the CIA and NSA, of course. It was widely covered both on blogs and the MSM when Mark Klein, a former AT&T worker, went public about the secret room.
More on it here:
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers’ phone calls, and shunted its customers’ internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the company.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF’s lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.
On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.
According to a statement released by Klein’s attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T’s #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.
“I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,” Klein wrote. “The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.”
Klein’s job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
So, not only did George W. Bush break laws, and is still being provided cover by the Obama administration, but, the abuses that Obama promised to reverse during his campaign are the very abuses that his DoJ is now defending in court.
And, remember, AT&T wasn’t the only telecom involved, but, all of the telecom companies. That means that every communication made by every American citizen by phone or over the internet has been routed to the NSA’s data-mining equipment.
Every. Single. Communication.
It is still happening today. These rooms were never dismantled.
Here is exactly what the government — Obama’s DoJ — argued:
“The communications between the agencies and telecommunications companies regarding the immunity provisions of the proposed legislation have been regarded as intra-agency because the government and the companies have a common interest in the defense of the pending litigation and the communications regarding the immunity provisions concerned that common interest.”
Sick yet? Because this case is about just that — what telecom official contacted the government concerning telecom immunity and what those communications contained in them.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeffery White disagreed and ruled on September 24 that the feds had to release the names of the telecom employees that contacted the Justice Department and the White House to lobby for a get-out-of-court-free card.
“Here, the telecommunications companies communicated with the government to ensure that Congress would pass legislation to grant them immunity from legal liability for their participation in the surveillance,” White wrote. “Those documents are not protected from disclosure because the companies communicated with the government agencies “with their own … interests in mind,” rather than the agency’s interests.”
The feds were supposed to make the documents available Friday, but in a motion late Thursday, the Obama administration is asking for a 30-day emergency stay (.pdf) so it can file a further appeal.
And, the Obama administration again, instead of complying with the order, files motion after motion to delay and quash.
Where are all those idiots who stated that Obama would allow the courts to decide now?