Your World – AT&T
Image courtesy of Outside the Silver Lining, see also Verizzzzzon

Glenn Greenwald quotes:

. . . from that 1998 Foreign Affairs essay by Thomas Carothers helpfully outlining the steps required to install the “rule of law” in third-world, pre-democracy countries:

Type three reforms aim at the deeper goal of increasing government’s compliance with law. A key step is achieving genuine judicial independence. . . . But the most crucial changes lie elsewhere. Above all, government officials must refrain from interfering with judicial decision-making and accept the judiciary as an independent authority.


(Meanwhile, in the US Congress)

Let’s just describe very factually and dispassionately what has happened here. Congress — led by Senators, such as Jay Rockefeller, who have received huge payments from the telecom industry, and by privatized intelligence pioneer Mike McConnell, former Chairman of the secretive intelligence industry association that has been demanding telecom amnesty — is going to intervene directly in the pending lawsuits against AT&T and other telecoms and declare them the winners on the ground that they did nothing wrong. Because of their vast ties to the telecoms, neither Rockefeller nor McConnell could ever appropriately serve as an actual judge in those lawsuits.
. . .
The question of whether the telecoms acted in “good faith” in allowing warrantless government spying on their customers is already pending before a court of law. In fact, that is one of the central issues in the current lawsuits — one that AT&T has already lost in a federal court.

Yet that is the issue that Jay Rockefeller and Mike McConnell — operating in secret — are taking away from the courts by passing a law declaring the telecoms to have won . . . They are directly interfering in these lawsuits and issuing a “ruling” in favor of AT&T and other telecoms that is exactly the opposite of the one an actual court of law has already issued.

Mostly we have thought of the US as a democracy, and not a pre-democracy. But Administration and Congressional support for this bill makes us highly sceptical, and even more worried that the US is becoming a post-democracy. In many parts of the world, if you say something the government doesn’t like, jeeps arrive at your door at 4am. One of the beautiful things about the United States was that this did not happen, at least not legally. Now the US government has private spies and private armies, dangerous steps in a dangerous direction.

R.J. Hillhouse tells us in the Washington Post:

Red alert: Our national security is being outsourced.

The most intriguing secrets of the “war on terror” have nothing to do with alQaeda and its fellow travelers. They’re about the mammoth private spying industry that all but runs U.S. intelligence operations today

Surprised? No wonder. In April, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell was poised to publicize a year-long examination of outsourcing by U.S. intelligence agencies. But the report was inexplicably delayed — and suddenly classified a national secret. What McConnell doesn’t want you to know is that the private spy industry has succeeded where no foreign government has: It has penetrated the CIA and is running the show.
. . .
Private companies now perform key intelligence-agency functions, to the tune, I’m told, of more than $42 billion a year. Intelligence professionals tell me that more than 50 percent of the National Clandestine Service (NCS) — the heart, brains and soul of the CIA — has been outsourced to private firms.

This is why the big telecoms, and their friends in Congress want immunity. They are among the companies who have been spying illegally on the American people.

The law giving the telecoms immunity has been stopped, at least for now, by Sen. Chris Dodd. He deserves high praise for his patriotism, and his defense of the US Constitution.