Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Verizon, BellSouth Deny Releasing Records

Well, isn't this interesting? To date, two of the three carriers that the USAToday alleged had an agreement with the NSA to hand over records of all domestic calls are denying such a deal exists.

A few thoughts: First, even if they had, I don't see a problem per se. Tracing phone records and matching phone numbers is simply a smart way of tracking terrorists. Even from the article, it is clear that the United States was not listening to conversations, which is exactly what the President promised months ago. But that is not the main point anymore.

Is this some kind of huge coverup, or simply an erroneous story? The USA Today now says:
"We're confident in our coverage of the phone database story," Anderson added, "but we won't summarily dismiss BellSouth's and Verizon's denials without taking a closer look."
What does this mean? Apparently, BellSouth's spokesman never agreed to the reporter's allegations when contacted about the story, and the paper is simply satisfied with the fact that BellSouth did not "challenge" the story. "Without taking a closer look" - shouldn't that closer look have been taken before publishing what obviously was a huge story?

Furthermore, Verizon notes an error on the part of the paper:
Verizon also said USA Today erred in not drawing a distinction between long-distance and local telephone calls.

"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's statement said.
Another excellent point. All of this, of course, leaves a large question: Who are the anonymous sources whom USA Today relied on in publishing this story? Are they people with an axe to grind against the President or the Republican Party? More and more, it seems that anonymous sources are simply using the media as proxy to pursue an agenda. It behooves the media to act more responsibly in publishing stories, particularly from sources unwilling to stand by their words. It is not without reason that many question the neutrality of the media - stories such as this only further that impression.

Take a closer look, indeed.


  1. The White House may also have been vague in addressing this story to disguise tactics used.

  2. Call me naive, but I don't really care if they read my messages or listen to my phone calls. They are going to die of boredom pretty darn quick and I imagine that is going to be true of 95% of Americans.

  3. sir. the quote under your title aint from serach.. but rather, good old dr. suess!

  4. CE - Yes, and I don't think so. The lawsuits are simply a few outraged lefties trying to make a statement. They even acknowledge in the article that they know no listening has been done.

    Amishav - I agree, but nevertheless I have to agree that if it's against the law, it's against the law...

    Anon - No, it's hers. Dr. Seuss' is a bit different, and she was completely unaware it existed until I mentioned it to her. But nice catch!

  5. Bbbuut, Ez, this is the Bush Admnistration we're talking about here. Verizon and Bell South don't have to agree with and confirm this story. Of course, it's true. Just like the 60 Minutes show where Dan Rather made the exclusive break-through story about Bush and the National Guard. There's no need to confirm whether the story is true. This is Bush. He is the devil reincarnate. This is obviously a true story.

    Goes to show how off the tracks those on the left have gone.

    Finally, Amishav is completely correct. It's completely naive, egotistical, and ridiculous to think that the alreadly over-worked people at the NSA are listening to regular peoples' phone calls, which they've already strongly stipulated and prove that they do not do. They are only looking at phone numbers and conversations that take place with known or suspected terrorists and their agencies. To think that the government is listening to Joe Schmo in order to have some fun is absolutely ridiculous.

  6. No listening, this is true. My issue is AG Gonzales and Bush have been very careful with what they say about surveillance. They may wish to keep a tool in the shadows -- but it's been difficult to believe their statements.

    I am overtired. Please pretend i put links in this and made better arguments.

  7. Bottom line is the leak on this program put it to death. Now that there is such wide publicity do you think terrorists will be using phones any time soon?

  8. but it's been difficult to believe their statements.


    Hey - I didn't sleep last night! :)

    Now that there is such wide publicity do you think terrorists will be using phones any time soon?

    They'll be a LOT more careful, that's for certain.