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Big Money Mitch, Wiretapping, and the Telecommunications Industry

In July 2008, Congress gave a “get-out-of-jail free” card to three major telecommunications companies – AT&T, Sprint and Verizon – that had handed over customers’ private telephone records to the government without a warrant. Civil liberties activists and pro-privacy organizations fiercely opposed this provision, which was included in the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The three companies directly and knowingly participated in an illegal program, yet were held above the law by the FISA legislation.

Let's Take Those Indictments Off Your Hands

The Senate just passed the FISA bill, passed by the House last month that gives telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their involvement in government wiretapping of their customers without a warrant. Why the eagerness in Congress to hand over a big "get out of jail free" card to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint?

Tapped Cash

A plaintiff in one of the lawsuits filed against telecommunications companies for their role in the tapping customers' phone lines without a warrant notes the campaign contributions that back up congressional decisions to side with the telecom companies over consumers.

Quid Pro Faux Pas

Support for spying just doesn't pay like it used to. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker notes that for all that several Republican members of Congress have done to protect telecommunications companies from paying the price for their role in the warrantless wiretapping brouhaha the telecoms aren't giving enough money to their campaigns. Outrageous! Don't they know how Washington works?