The Internet is abuzz with the NSA story and the role of Qwest in particular – who, by backing away from the NSA and being the one major telecommunications company that declined to participate in the program – they may have played their cards well – despite being threaten to be thrown out of the government contract loop.
The story on Qwest’s reluctance was made public in the USA Today as they single-handedly revived the NSA scandal with a scoop on data harvesting – unleashing a political bombshell for the Bush administratrion by revealing that the The National Security Agency has been tapping in and gathering the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. The news is simply… mind blowing.
…The sources said the NSA made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation. AT&T, which at the time was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, agreed to help the NSA.
So did BellSouth, headed by F. Duane Ackerman; SBC, headed by Ed Whitacre; and Verizon, headed by Ivan Seidenberg. With that, the NSA’s domestic program began in earnest.
Qwest was berated and threatened with exclusion in the corporate welfare merry-go-round.
…Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies.
It also tried appealing to Qwest’s patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest’s refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.
In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.
Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.
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Member’s of Daily Kos have now formed an action group to push people to switch to Qwest.