February 14, 2008 | By Kurt Opsahl

Telecoms Say They Won't "Protect America" If They Don't Get Their Way

Yesterday, in arguing for immunity for the telecom providers, the President said "If these companies are subjected to lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars, they won't
participate. They won't help us. They won't help protect America." We just can't resist pointing out what this means:

  • This is blackmail. It is unconscionable for the telecoms to condition protecting America on receiving a handout.
  • Participation in lawful wiretapping is not optional. If a telecom refuses to comply with a lawful request for assistance, the solution is to compel compliance, not pay off the telecom with legislative favors. If, on the other hand, a telecom is asked to break the law, it properly should refuse. That's why we have laws in the first place.
  • This shows that the telecoms are no heroes. Heroes take risks "above and beyond the call of duty," they do not condition simply doing their duty on a get-out-of-jail free card.

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