The Wednesday before Christmas just after the corporate tax cut bill was passed by congress, telecom giant AT&T announced it would give it employees a $1000 bonus after the tax bill was signed. Telecom giant AT&T was quick to respond to news of U.S. tax reform, announcing it would give some employees bonuses once the …
Dec 27 2017
Nov 14 2013
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is prohibited by law from spying on the domestic activities of Americans but that hasn’t stopped them from paying a giant telecommunications company for the phone records of Americans making call overseas, as reported by the New York Times in an article by Charlie Savage:
The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials. [..]
The program adds a new dimension to the debate over government spying and the privacy of communications records, which has been focused on National Security Agency programs in recent months. The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers. And it shows how agencies beyond the N.S.A. use metadata – logs of the date, duration and phone numbers involved in a call, but not the content – to analyze links between people through programs regulated by an inconsistent patchwork of legal standards, procedures and oversight.
Author of Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance, Heidi Boghosian joined Bill Moyers on Moyers and Company to discuss spying and our civil liberties
Transcript can be read here
Book Excerpt: Spying on Democracy
by Heidi Boghosian
In describing the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), best-selling author James Bamford, whose reporting in the 1980s revealed the existence of the NSA, calls the database used to store names gathered from the federal eavesdropping programs a disaster. The advent of digital communications and mass storage, he says, coupled with a failure of law and policy to keep abreast of technological advancements and an NSA “where the entire world’s knowledge is stored, but not a single word understood,” yields “the capacity to make tyranny total in America.”
Much of the information in government databases such as TIDE is collected with the cooperation of corporations. Although the US surveillance state is colossal in scope, Americans need not be complicit in sustaining it. Tethered to electronic gadgets, under watchful corporate and government command, Americans have a choice about the amount of information afforded to authorities. We can embrace the positive aspects of technology while electing to actively resist and dismantle its invasive and anti-democratic aspects.
To do so, it is essential to reject outright the premise on which a domestic surveillance grid has been erected: that it makes us safer. Comprehensive monitoring and the targeting of certain individuals and social networks for greater observation, is demonstrably ineffective in its purported function of making Americans more secure.
Sep 04 2013
In the midst of the angst of the debate over Obama bombing Syria, a front page article in Monday’s New York Times has revealed a new surveillance scandal involving a little known deal between the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and AT&T called the Hemisphere Project. That deal gives the DEA access to 26 years of its phone records:
Unlike the controversial call record accesses obtained by the NSA, the data is stored by AT&T, not the government, but officials can access individual’s phone records within an hour of an administrative subpoena.
AT&T receives payment from the government in order to sit its employees alongside drug units to aid with access to the data.
The AT&T database includes every phone call which passes through the carrier’s infrastructure, not just those made by AT&T customers.
Details of the program – which was marked as law enforcement sensitive, but not classified – were released in a series of slides to an activist, Drew Hendricks, in response to freedom of information requests, and then passed to reporters at the New York Times.
Officials were instructed to take elaborate steps to ensure the secrecy of the Hemisphere program, a task described as a “formidable challenge” in the slide deck, which detailed the steps agencies had taken to “try and keep the program under the radar”.
The transcript for this segment was not available at this time.
Mar 22 2011
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
The big business news that hit the “airways” yesterday was the announcement that AT&T’s plan to gobble up T-Mobile for a mere $39 billion which would create the largest wireless carrier in the US and leave just three major cellular companies in the country: AT&T, Verizon and the much smaller Sprint Nextel. Hold on, was I dreaming, or did we taxpayers spent a fortune of are hard earned tax dollars to break-up AT&T? Are those ten years of litigation and the consequent pain in the royal tuchas for consumers that it created a mere practical joke?
The deal still must pass muster with the from both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. as has been pointed out in the NYT:
Unlike the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, which consolidated a transmission company and a content provider, the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile deal is a “horizontal merger” that would combine two companies that had been direct competitors.
As part of their assessment, antitrust lawyers must determine whether the deal might undermine efforts to encourage broadband service competition between wireless and landline providers. AT&T and Verizon both control a major segment of the landline market, so by allowing them to dominate wireless services as well, the merger could effectively hurt competition for broadband delivery options.
All in all, the consumer is the one who bears the brunt of these mega-mergers with increased rates and diminished service. Remember AT&T’s penchant for hidden charges?
How about jobs? What happens to all those T-Mobile employees? The newly merged company would save $3 billion a year with the expected closing of hundreds of retail outlets in areas where they overlap, as well as the elimination of overlapping back office, technical and call center staff.
Everything old is new again.
Jul 18 2009
The NSA Wiretapping Story Nobody Wanted
This demonstrates, yet again, how incestuous is the relationship between the corporate-owned Big Brother government and its Mouthpiece Media:
I was most worried at the time when the LA Times was killing my story, but at the same time the LA Times showed it to the government. Then I really was panicking because that meant that the government knew everything and probably knew my name, but I didn’t have any publicity.
IDGNS: The media merit a full chapter (entitled: ‘Going Public vs. Media Chickens’) in your book. What happened there?
Klein: The LA Times was particularly egregious because they were planning a front-page spread. They were the first entity I’d given all the documents to. Then they talked to the government about it, and it turned out they were talking to not only the NSA director, but the director of national intelligence, who was John Negroponte at the time. So that meant the government knew it. And then a few weeks later the LA Times killed the story. So the only thing you can read into is that basically the government squashed the story. [The LA Times’ editor in early 2006, Dean Baquet, said the government had nothing to do with the decision. ‘We did not have a story, that we could not figure out what was going on,’ he told ABC News — ed.]
IDGNS: How long did they have the story?
Klein: I started dealing with them in late January 2006, and in February they showed it to the government, and then they started wobbling. By the end of March 2006, they officially told me the story was killed.
IDGNS: Did they cover it in April, after it became public?
Klein: No that was funny. After it finally hit the news everywhere else, The LA Times didn’t run with the stuff I’d given them. They’d squashed the whole thing.
Apr 06 2009
Obama Administration Embraces Bush Position on Warrantless Wiretapping and Secrecy
Says Court Must Dismiss Jewel v. NSA to Protect ‘State Secrets’
San Francisco – The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration’s position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.
n Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging the agency’s dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged “state secrets.” These are essentially the same arguments made by the Bush administration three years ago in Hepting v. AT&T, EFF’s lawsuit against one of the telecom giants complicit in the NSA spying.
Aug 22 2008
The SF Chronicle reports on corporate lobbyists taking advantage of a loophole in rules preventing them from throwing lavish parties to “honor”House lawmakers, which exempts parties for groups of Members.
Prominent, a Sunday evening bash thrown by ATT for the “Blue Dogs” to thank them for the FISA amnesty.
Congress, pledging to clean up Washington’s culture of corruption, approved a rule last year to end the practice of lobbyists or their clients throwing lavish events honoring lawmakers at the parties’ national conventions.
But the House ethics committee opened a huge loophole in the rule by issuing guidelines in December saying it was fine for lobbyists or their employers to throw parties for a group of House members – just not for a single lawmaker…
…AT&T is among the sponsors of a party celebrating the conservative House Blue Dog Democrats on Sunday night.
Perfect spot for the first appearance of my “STOP GOVERNMENT SPYING” banner.
Feb 20 2008
in rejecting ACLU vs. NSA today.
A number of good folks in the blogosphere are huffing and puffing over the Supreme Court’s rejection of the ACLU’s Petition for Certiori in the case of ACLU v. NSA. They don’t need to.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today dismissed the first legal challenge to President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping order, but without ruling on any of the key issues.
It is traditional and expected in our Federal system that the Supreme Court wait until a controversial legal issue is litigated in more than one of the lower Circuits before creating a binding precedent. This way, the Supreme Court both allows for a broader range of opinion and ensures that a greater number of arguments and issues are considered before the Court decides the final law.
In ACLU vs. NSA, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had the first bite at the apple on unwarranted wiretapping, and spit out a Bushie worm. Yet the sour 6th is not the only Circuit with a say about whether our government can secretly spy on us.