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DOJ Still Looks To Have Suit Against Verizon Tossed 79

Posted by Zonk
from the protecting-the-soldiers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell acknowledging that the 'private sector' had a hand in assisting the president's warrantless wiretapping initiative, the DOJ is ever more strenuously demanding that the suit against Verizon be dropped. 'The Justice Department attorneys argue McConnell's statements did nothing to change the fact that it hasn't ever confirmed any of the activities alleged by the class action plaintiffs--and has, in fact, denied the existence of any sort of "dragnet." The arguments made by the class action plaintiffs rest on nothing but "speculation," the attorneys wrote. In the Justice Department's view, litigating the case would still require exposing how the program actually does work--which, it says, would in turn endanger national security.'"
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DOJ Still Looks To Have Suit Against Verizon Tossed

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  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @02:46PM (#20414783) Homepage Journal
    Evidently, just finally dropping Gonzales from his stonewall turret isn't enough to force the "Justice" Department back into the service of the American people and our legitimate security needs. Eventually this circling the wagons over the illegal domestic spying will start claiming that holding responsible the guilty parties will threaten the existence of corporations like Verizon, and their buddies in the government.

    They will hold our country hostage to get us to let them walk all over our people.
    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:27PM (#20415261) Homepage Journal
      Dead on, Baby. The super-secret outsourcing of "intelligence" to private-sector firms is the "$1000-Dollar Hammer" of the new century. With the added benefit from the both the size of the contracts and the protecting from public scrutiny because such information "is classifed" and discussion of the topic "aids terrorists" and "will result in Americans dying."

      If you thought you saw something over the last decade - with big telecom industries operating a revolving-door operation with the FCC regulators, just wait and see what "intelligence" has in store! There is profit in War - that's what the size of the "defense" budget represents: how much of your taxes will be funneled as a subsidy to Haliburton and General Dynamics. Now, AT&T and VeriZion are in on the act.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I exult in "Jeremiah Cornelius" validating me and calling me "Baby" :).

        Can I have the keys to either the airtight garage, or Una Persson's chastity belt now?
        • Una's her own lady, Doc!

          Airtight garage? I think you gots to speak en francaise.

          I do have the key to a Rolls - with minor oil-pressure issues. And maby Frank has a hit of "something," other than Tempodex.
          • by Doc Ruby (173196)
            I'm going to paste this conversation inside the pages of my bound editions of the first volume of _Metal Hurlant_. Wait, reverse that: this conversation finally explains how the pages containing them got stuck into those volumes years ago when I got them. Is that us? I think I can see the windmill pinwheels now, over the Hawkwind...
      • There is profit in War - that's what the size of the "defense" budget represents

        Exactly. Some figures [washingtonpost.com]:
        $460 billion in the fiscal 2008 defense budget
        $147 billion in a pending supplemental bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
        up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq

        Not counting the money already spent on the perpetual "War on Terrorism" [sourcewatch.org].

  • In other words... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hax0r_this (1073148) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @02:47PM (#20414803)
    We're screwing you for your own good.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @02:47PM (#20414817) Homepage

    This should come up in the confirmation hearings for the new Attorney General.

    • by Nimey (114278)
      Presupposes that the Dem senators have a collective spine. I haven't seen much evidence of that yet.
  • self preservation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @02:49PM (#20414837) Journal
    If verizon gets hammered by lawsuits over the illegal wiretapping it doesn't stop there, eventually there will be pressure put on the agencies that did this nonsense in the first place. I suppose that they figure by shielding Verizon it'll discourage any further suits and investigations into what the department was doing.
  • someone who is NOT a qualified proctologist looking at the seat of your pants holding a flashlight in his/her hand.

    Like the little kid says on "the Awful Show": "Okay ... Bend over"

    I feel, uh, violated...
  • In the Justice Department's view, litigating the case would still require exposing how the program actually does work--which, it says, would in turn endanger national security.

    I would of thought that if that were the case that not all the hearings would be open to those without necessary clearance. Sounds like a bit of a cop out to me. Along the lines of "We've done stuff we shouldn't of done, but because it's in the interests of national security, we can't tell you what we did and how we will keep on doing it".
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Along the lines of "We've done stuff we shouldn't of done, but because it's in the interests of national security, we can't tell you what we did and how we will keep on doing it".

      Worse: I expect them to argue that exposing the wrongdoing itself will degrade national security. The rationalization being that if nobody knows about an ongoing crime then there's no outrage. Since criminals were allowed to operate within the system, exposing that fact will undermine confidence in the system overall.

      For example,

    • Exactly. And that's why you have in camera [wikipedia.org] hearings.


  • I'm no fan of either player here. This reads like a triple negative. Who's the side we're supposed to be 'rooting for' and is this a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

  • by The Angry Mick (632931) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:02PM (#20414995) Homepage

    You know, I usually can't stand the idea of Congressional hearings on anything (they end up being more campaign speech-y, than enlightened probes), but this might be an instance where I'm inclined to change my opinion. If there was any type of collusion between the government and big business to break the law of the land, quite a few corporate heads need to roll.

    Note that I'm not advocating that these be public hearings - I'm willing to let the government keep a few of its secrets - but all testimony should be under oath. What I cannot abide is watching anybody lie to Congress [washingtonpost.com], and get away scot free. Especially corporations that have received substantial benefits (subsidies, market consolidation, etc.) from the very same people they are lying to.

    • by AlanS2002 (580378) <sanderal2 AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:16PM (#20415137) Homepage
      Note that I'm not advocating that these be public hearings - I'm willing to let the government keep a few of its secrets - but all testimony should be under oath.

      Well I would think that in the interest of having 'checks and balances', in practice rather than theory, that is what ought to happen. If Major corporations have wronged their customers and the DOJ has acted in an illegal manner it needs to be corrected, not brushed under the carpet because it's "in the interests of national security".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        Well I would think that in the interest of having 'checks and balances', in practice rather than theory, that is what ought to happen.

        I'm wiling to make an even stronger statement: FUCK "national security!" If we, as a nation, have to make a choice between "national security" and checks and balances, then we're just damn well going to have to be "insecure!"

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rtb61 (674572)
          Technically speaking, as a democracy, the security of it's citizens is the first priority of 'national security' as such, ensuring that the government and it's agencies does act in a manner that would be approved by the citizens is in the interest of the citizens and provides them with security.

          So all those acts must be made public to ensure that they actually do or would receive public approval. In hiding it's methods and it's actions, the current administration and it's political appointees know that t

    • by Entropius (188861)
      All testimony should be under oath and encrypted with moderately weak encryption, so it's not public now, but we're guaranteed of distributed.net beating the hell out of it sooner or later.
  • Attorneys for the plaintiffs in those suits recently submitted the McConnell transcript for the court record, in an attempt to blunt the government's contentions that proceeding with the case will endanger national security by exposing state secrets.

    Not so, the Bush administration countered in a Wednesday court filing seen by CNET News.com. The Justice Department attorneys argue McConnell's statements did nothing to change the fact that **it** hasn't ever confirmed any of the activities alleged by the class action plaintiffs--and has, in fact, denied the existence of any sort of "dragnet."

    Who is the **it** that TFA is talking about?
    It could be:
    The Justice Dept.
    The Bush Administration
    National Intelligence Program (McConnell, Director of)

    From what I understand [wikipedia.org] Mike McConnel is a political appointee of the President and his words = the Administration's words.

    In other words, if he admits to something, the Bush Administration has admitted to it too.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      From what I understand Mike McConnel is a political appointee of the President and his words = the Administration's words.


      And they get it both ways: McConnell will take one for the team if the heat gets too bad. "I didn't condone what this man did!"
  • Fletcher: Your honor, I object!
    Judge: Why?
    Fletcher: Because it's devastating to my case!
    Judge: Overruled.

    I find his movies generally annoying, but this one tolerable enough that I sat through it without walking out.

  • The Department of Justice is hypocritical through and through. Even it's name is hypocritical. I would say THEY'VE lost all credibility, all trust...But... We're the biggest losers. We've lost credibility. Self esteem. Self image. Everything.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:11PM (#20415089)
    What he said was that the lawsuits would bankrupt Verizon:

    "Now if you play out the suits at the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these companies,"

    Which means they have merit. Moreover he said it publicly, so he can testify the same under oath without causing any additional problems for national security.
    • "Now if you play out the suits at the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these companies,"

      More to the point ... what is wrong with bankrupting those companies? That's the purpose of lawsuits ... if you're too successful at screwing people over, and you get called on it, you are supposed to have your ass handed to you on a platter. That's why we pay all the good people at the Justice Department. Honestly, I'd have thought they would be all over Verizon and the rest, but apparently Justice and the te
    • by Software (179033)
      Huh? Saying a lawsuit would bankrupt the defendant does not mean that the lawsuit has merit. SCO vs. AutoZone had no merit, even though the suit might have bankrupted AutoZone. The same goes for many of the suits filed against people who don't own computers by Sony, BMG, and the other **AA member companies.
  • by DaveWick79 (939388) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:29PM (#20415287)
    When the DOJ comes to your company and says, "by executive order, do this", you don't just ignore them. It isn't the fault of these companies that phones were tapped, that's like blaming the gun for a robbery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      What country do you live in? Obviously, not the US. The DOJ doesn't have "executive order". Unless they come to you with a warrant (even a FISA-issued warrant), you're a jackass for violating your customer's privacy. This isn't "24".
      • In case you weren't aware, the situation is still legal gray matter, and it certainly was at the time. The real issue at stake here is not the Phone companies violating privacy, it's how much privacy we are willing to give up in the name of "Security". If one of these allegedly illegal phone taps were to prevent a 9/11 type attack, not nearly as many people would be complaining.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sunburnt (890890) *

      When the DOJ comes to your company and says, "by executive order, do this", you don't just ignore them.

      That's right. You have your legal department determine if the EO would make your company violate the law (not hard, since that's the office to which EOs are submitted in the first place) and, if so, file with the court to have an injunction placed on the feds.

      Ignoring an executive order is as bad as just bending over for it.

    • by GuyverDH (232921)
      There's something called illegal orders.

      You take them and go uh-huh. Then you publish them in every paper / on television nationwide.

      In the military, you can get away with the statement - "Sir! I refuse to follow that order as I believe it to be an illegal order."
      You may have to sit in the brig while you await your military tribunal, but you can do it - and once the order is exposed and deemed illegal, the one giving the order and anyone who followed it will be sent on for courtmartial.
  • Just believe whatever the Ministry of Truth tells you and don't ask any questions. BB is watching.
  • Anyone else have a constant nagging feeling that our government is utterly and completely out of our control? I say "our" as a voting, gun carrying American citizen who has had about as much as I can take of this type of bullshit. The soap box is monitored, if not outright under their control, the ballot box is rigged, the jury box is full of government "yes" men, how long till they come for the ammo box?
  • Pure B.S. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @03:55PM (#20415675)

    In the Justice Department's view, litigating the case would still require exposing how the program actually does work--which, it says, would in turn endanger national security.

    Pure DoJ bullsh*t.


    The safe bet is that the NSA is packet-sniffing all foreign and domestic communications involving targeted individuals or, in the event they can't narrow it down to an IP address, they monitor all the public WiFi services in the neighborhood. Anyone familiar with the technology can figure out how to do it. Anyone communicating with individuals abroad or any number of 'suspect' domestic groups (Islamic, Arab-American lobbying groups, etc.) can figure its being done to them. There's no big secret needing to be kept.


    What would endanger 'security' is that this technology is also being used for domestic surveillance for political and even economic reasons (i.e. industrial espionage). The security it would endanger is the current administration's ability to remain out of prison.

    • Re:Pure B.S. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tgatliff (311583) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:11PM (#20415869)
      I disagree.. What ould endanger 'security' is willfully violating the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights longterm.... I understand the security concerns, and they have a valid point, but they must work within our Bill of Rights...

      It is not a big secret understanding what they want. They want to monitor all communications in the US, and be flagged when the system finds things they are looking for. They have wanted this for a long time, even before this administration, and was the whole reason of the original Echelon Network design. Meaning, for the rest of the world they have been monitoring traffic for some time, but were prevented from doing so to its own US citizens. Now they want this power and think that they can justify it by using the 'terrorist' angle...
  • "With Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell acknowledging that the 'private sector' had a hand in assisting the president's warrantless wiretapping initiative"

    So, if this argument is then accepted, we can now consider any corporate entity in the USA a part of the United States government.

    So, this is JUST what corporations want. It goes, same to same, that is a coporation can enjoin itself and become an arm of the government, acting on enforcing a governments whishes, then this corporation then h
    • by catalina (213767)
      That is what happens next: You don't vote anymore, because states will cease to exist. The only states are corporations,

      OK, so long as they follow through with good RollerBall teams....
  • Wait, what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rewt66 (738525) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:31PM (#20416089)
    Did they just argue that they haven't admitted that they were doing it, but they can't talk about doing it because it would threaten national security? Um, hello? First, it's true that you're not supposed to be able to sue on a hypothetical situation. SCO aside, there's supposed to be a real issue before you can sue. But the government seems to be saying that they have to admit to the wiretapping before they can be sued for it. IANAL, but I don't believe that's how it works, not even for the federal government. Second, maybe "we can't talk about it" is precisely why they haven't admitted it? So, maybe, not admitting it doesn't mean a thing? I hope and expect that the judge can see right through this rubbish...
  • He found out the hard way. http://www.nsaspook.com/9166_0029.jpg [nsaspook.com]
  • corporations and against the interests of citizens.

    The previous and most notable occurance was when they took defeat out of the jaws of two convictions and created a toothless settlement with Microsoft that enabled them to continue their monopoly. Citizens of all countries have been paying through the nose every since.
  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @05:42PM (#20417163)
    ... a thought which should be enough to illustrate that the argument "would endanger national security" is pure nanny-state. "If you don't have anything to hide, what are you worried about?" Government by neo-facist paranoiacs, that's what. People are trying to kill them, sure, but their behaviour is that of cowards and bullies, the likes of which have been known to do a lot of damage.
  • Ok. So Yahoo follows Chinese law and provides information to the chinese gov't ... and gets sued in US courts. Then people cry FAIR...saying Yahoo should know to obey 'international human rights' nonsense.

    Yet VZ follows the mandate of it's OWN gov't who i guarantee have the most weight in determining 'international human rights' and winds up in court. Then the DOJ is looking to have the lawsuit dropped?!

    So wait.

    China forces a company to provide private info to 'out' a journalist per a LAWFUL (in china) r
  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday August 31, 2007 @08:55AM (#20423383)

    It seems to me for the executive branch to demand a lawsuit be dismissed is meddling in the independence of the judiciary and violating the Constitutional separation of powers.

    Oh, wait, I forgot "activist judges" are supposed to be a bad thing. Never mind about that separation of powers rubbish, then.

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