Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Verizon, Telcos Go For TKO

That's technical knockout for you non-boxing fans.

Why do I say they're going for the technical knockout? Because today they claimed they didn't turn over any information to the feds. In a carefully worded statement released today, six days after the charges were made in USA Today. They're claiming they didn't do it. They're going with the technicality.

C'mon, I'm a lawyer, I know why it takes six days to put out an official statement. The truth is simple. Yes or no. We did it, or we didn't. Instead, after six days of creative lawyering, we get this (WaPo):

New York-based Verizon said yesterday that it would not confirm or deny any relationship with the NSA, but that "one of the most glaring and repeated falsehoods in the media reporting is the assertion that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon was approached by the NSA and entered into an arrangement to provide the NSA with data from its customers' domestic calls. This is false."

The statement outlined the three major businesses that Verizon ran between Sept. 11, 2001, and the MCI acquisition four months ago: wireline phone, wireless phone and directory publishing. The company "also had its own Internet service provider and long-distance businesses," the statement said. "Contrary to the media reports, Verizon was not asked by NSA to provide, nor did Verizon provide, customer phone records from any of these businesses, or any call data from those records.

"None of these companies -- wireless or wireline -- provided customer records or call data."

Verizon also denied published reports that information about local telephone calls is being tracked. "Phone companies do not even make records of local calls in most cases because the vast majority of customers are not billed per call for local calls," Verizon said. But it did not mention the MCI long-distance business.

Blogtopia (yes! skippy coined that phrase!) has already figured out that they're carefully saying they didn't give the data, because what they really did was give the feds access to the switches. They didn't have to give them the data -- they gave them the keys to the castle, lock, stock and barrel.

emptywheel, dailykos: Domestic Spying: They're Not Getting Data, They're Getting the Switches

Conveniently for the Bush Administration, less than two weeks ago it issued a presidential memorandum, whatever that is, that lets the telcos lie to us to protect the secret spying program.

ThinkProgress: New Presidential Memorandum Permits Intelligence Director To Authorize Telcos To Lie Without Violating Securities Law

So go ahead, believe Verizon's statement. Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again, as Commander Codpiece once said.

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