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Feb. 28, 2008

AT&T TAPS BREAUX LOTT FOR IMMUNITY
 

AT&T is among charter clients of Breaux Lott Leadership Group, a firm established by former Senate heavyweights John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.). Their sons are also involved in the family business.

The telecom giant has given BLLG the mission to back the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Breaux, Lott
Breaux and Lott

A temporary update allowing American intelligence officials to eavesdrop on foreigners without a warrant expired a week ago.

The Senate approved a FISA extension, but a deal fell apart in the House due to opposition by Democrats to grant immunity to phone companies from lawsuits.

President Bush told the National Governors Assn. yesterday that he wants the House to approve FISA with telecom safeguards because, “If the enemy is calling to America, we really need to know what they’re saying.”

He added that companies “who are believed to have helped us after 9/11” shouldn’t be sued.

Both Breaux and Lott are working the AT&T business.

The San Antonio phone giant, which uses Fleishman-Hillard as its key PR firm, joins Delta Airlines, a potential merger partner; United Space Alliance, which wants funding from NASA, and Assn. of American Railroads as charter clients of BLLG.

 
Comment on this story
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Comments:
 

Bill Huey, Strategic Communications, Atlanta (2/27):
And not just immunity, but RETROACTIVE immunity, meaning pending lawsuits will be tossed and telecomm companies will be absolved from things they have already done as well as things they might do in the future. If the tobacco companies had thought of that angle, we might still have the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and cigarette advertising on TV.

Here’s what Senator Chris Dodd said about the matter December17, 2007, in a speech on the Senate floor:

“For the last six years, our largest telecommunications companies have been spying on their own American customers. Secretly and without a warrant, they delivered to the federal government the private, domestic communications records of millions of Americans—records this administration has compiled into a database of enormous scale and scope. That decision betrayed millions of customers’ trust. It was unwarranted—literally. But was it illegal?

"That, Mr. President, I don’t know. And if this bill passes in its current form, we will never know. The president’s favored corporations will be immune. Their arguments will never be heard in a court of law. The details of their actions will stay hidden. The truth behind this unprecedented domestic spying will never see light. And the book on our government’s actions will be closed, and sealed, and locked, and handed over to the safe-keeping of those few whom George Bush trusts to keep a secret.”

Both Breaux and Lott were reliable water-carriers for BellSouth before AT&T acquired it at the end of 2006. So naturally the telecomm giant hires them to lobby for this bill.

A. G. Bell (2/26):
Yes, by all means protect those patriotic telcoms!!!!

Only Qwest had the cajones to tell Bush to get a FISA warrant. THAT was the right thing to do, not roll over the privacy of Americans.

Anybody who believes the GOP right wing deadenders in the White House wanted the information only to fight terror is niave or just plain stupid. I wouldn't trust Bush/Cheney/Rove as far as I could throw them.

 
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