A reader points me to another example of the administration’s bogus talking points on FISA. The usual contention is that these wiretapping powers are needed in the heightened post-9/11 security environment. I didn’t exactly buy that rationale in the first place, but now a Qwest executive is claiming that he was approached way back in February 2001 with a request to participate in a legally dubious wiretapping scheme. Evidently, the NSA’s cavalier attitude toward judicial oversight predates the September 11 attack.
Also, the Qwest exec in question claims that the government dangled government contracts in front of telecom companies to entice them to cooperate. I think this is one of the most crucial reasons not to give telecom companies blanket immunity for their actions. Qwest did the right thing and took a financial hit as a result. It would be extremely unfair to allow AT&T and Verizon walk away unscathed, with extra money from those government contracts in its pockets. Even if you don’t think telecom companies should be punished for breaking the law, they certainly shouldn’t be financially rewarded.