Corporatocracy, Police States, and Telecommunications

A couple of days ago, the media and the blogosphere were both set ablaze when a college student was hit with a taser gun in the chest by campus police during the question and answer session following a speech by Senator John Kerry.

In the aftermath we here at Comments received our own little surge, and among the comments received, the term “police state” was mentioned more than a few times.

In the comments to my own coverage of the event, I expressed the following sentiments:

The way I see this situation is that it’s a dumb kid and a bumbling campus police force. We’re not even necessarily talking about real, on the street cops.

Anyway, what we saw was essentially a bunch of bad decisions compounding upon one another and not some ominous glimpse into a police state episode. Meanwhile, yesterday there were three vital filibusters, one directly against the US Constitution (restoration of Habeas Corpus).

This is the stuff we really need to be debating and talking about, but everyone’s stuck on this whole “police state” taser incident. I understand why it’s happening. On one hand you have boring Senate debate, research into the Constitution, and news articles and OpEd pieces to pilfer through, while on the other hand you have a single very compelling video.

It’s not hard to understand why people are driven to one and not the other. But the point is that while people are watching what they think is “police state” stuff, up in DC the actual real thing may be happening.

I stand by this assertion.  If a fascist police state is forming here in America, it’s not happening in College Auditoriums, it’s happening in DC.

Case in point.  What seems to have fallen off the radar recently amid the Petraeus circus, warmongering against Iran, and other stories flooding the news wires was the violation of our civil liberties as a result of Bush’s secret surveillance programs that operate sans judicial oversight.

In this story, a new development arises; one that both the White House and telecommunications companies hope remain under the radar.  Seeking to provide cover for companies aiding the White House in attaining private information on unsuspecting customers, a horde of lawyers and lobbyists are working to push through a bill that would absolve said companies from any culpability in privacy violations past, present and future.

The campaign—which involves some of Washington’s most prominent lobbying and law firms—has taken on new urgency in recent weeks because of fears that a U.S. appellate court in San Francisco is poised to rule that the lawsuits should be allowed to proceed.

If that happens, the telecom companies say, they may be forced to terminate their cooperation with the U.S. intelligence community—or risk potentially crippling damage awards for allegedly turning over personal information about their customers to the government without a judicial warrant.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say the U.S. intelligence community is in a near-panic about this,” said one communications industry lawyer familiar with the debate who asked not to be publicly identified because of the sensitivity surrounding the issue.

Ah yes, obviously for the Bush administration, the answer to correct illegality is not through justice, but through changing the law.

Not content to leave any Orwellian undertones to be mired in vagueness, Kenneth Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, makes it clear that allowing such law suits to progress would result in terrorists winning:

Wainstein also claimed that “every time we have one of these lawsuits, very sensitive information gets discussed and gets leaked out, disseminated out in the public. And our adversaries are smart, both the terrorists who might be over in, you know, someplace in the Middle East are smart, and then the governments that might be our adversaries are tremendously sophisticated, and they’re gleaning all this information that gets out.” Wainstein also said that a telecom company’s overseas assets could be threatened if its collaboration in U.S. espionage efforts were confirmed in a court case.

That’s right, boys and girls, if all else fails, just remind folks that if you don’t do what you want, the boogeyman’s gonna get them.  If you want police state, here  you go.  They are changing the rules to meet their needs; they are violating your privacy, and then making it illegal for you to do or say anything about it.

And if you harbor any doubts about the validity of claims that we are or are at least turning into a corporatocracy, just take a look at who’s pushing this through.

Working with them are a battery of major D.C. lobbyists and lawyers who are providing “strategic advice” to the companies on the issue, according to sources familiar with the campaign who asked not to be identified talking about it. Among the players, these sources said: powerhouse Republican lobbyists Charlie Black and Wayne Berman (who represent AT&T and Verizon, respectively), former GOP senator and U.S. ambassador to Germany Dan Coats (a lawyer at King & Spaulding who is representing Sprint), former Democratic Party strategist and one-time assistant secretary of State Tom Donilon (who represents Verizon), former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick (whose law firm also represents Verizon) and Brad Berenson, a former assistant White House counsel under President George W. Bush who now represents AT&T.

Continuing his longstanding tradition of letting the fox guard the henhouse, Bush is not only allied with the major telecommunication companies who are attempting to push this thing through, but in fact they are helping to draft the legislation.

This is what we’re missing.  This is what is going on while people are bleating about a self promoting kid getting tasered in the chest, or fixating themselves on why Brittney Spears’ latest performance at the VMA’s sucked.  This is what is happening to our country right behind our backs… in plain view.

Now pay attention!

2 Responses to “Corporatocracy, Police States, and Telecommunications”

  1. Leland says:

    Actually, for $199, you can allow AT&T to put cameras in your house which dump video to there servers which are accessible by mobile phones. Imagine, whether it’s government officers or the average hacker stealing mobile electronic identity numbers, people can simply tap into your service and see when you are at home and what you do there. AT&T recommends you put cameras so perverts can watch your kids, or near the doors, so thiefs or the ATF can see what other security you may have. What a service? It’s something that all homes should have.

  2. See, now if I got paid for that, I would prance around my house wearing nothing but a pink tutu. Porn is the way to go, isn’t it?

    Not that we’re thinking of changing our format here, nooooo not at all…

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