US Threatens to Sue if Maine Probes Verizon’s Phone Record Gift to NSA

Verizon customers in Maine asked the Public Utilities Commission to investigate whether the cellphone company handed over their phone records to the NSA. A July 28th letter from the DOJ to the PUC asked them to demure, and intimated at possible legal action.

“We sincerely hope that, in light of governing law and the national security concerns implicated by the requests for information, you will decline to open an investigation and close these proceedings, thereby avoiding litigation over the matter,” the letter reads.

Let’s see how well Maine lives up to its state motto of Dirigo, Latin for “I direct” or “I lead.”

(Thanks to Jpac!)

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  1. Barry says:

    I wonder what percentage of Verizon customers are asking that and want it to stop. Based on related statistics that I’ve seen I think it’s the minority. Countries go to war over problems that are worth risking innocent lives to solve. I think over 100,000 innocent civilians were killed in Iraq due to coalition bombing. How could anyone think it’s not worth going through phone records when it’s worth shooting through innocent people to get to the bad guys?

    People who are against the U.S. government looking through phone records to find terrorists when soldiers are risking their lives fighting terrorism need to get away from whatever extreme liberal influences are corrupting their minds. They’re the same people who donate to the Free Software Foundation and Wikipedia rather than the American Cancer Society and UNICEF. They hate Bill Gates no matter how charitable he is. And the web is thick with these people. They make me puke.

    Anyway, this is my first post. Great website.

  2. Morgan says:

    Odd. I’d think that the soldiers risking their lives for our country would like to know that the liberties the country was founded on, including a right to privacy unless one is being investigated for a particular criminal offence, were being upheld. When did “Give me liberty or give me death” stop being one of the defining statements of the country? Protecting our liberties has always, in the past, been something that was worth dying for; when did that change?
    And saying liberals are the ones that hate Bill Gates seems strange to me. Everything I’ve read online decrying Bill Gates as of late has been from conservatives that are upset that he’s giving away condems in Africa.

  3. ACurmudgeon says:

    Barry,
    what exactly does terroism have to do with Iraq? Those 100k innocent deaths have nothing to do with terroism, it is all about resetting the big dinner table where Iraq doles out petrolem. That is what those people died for, and only a few individuals in power decieded that it was worth risking innocent lives to solve. They had to flat out lie about the existence of WMDs to get enough on board. As far as checking telephone records for terrorists, first you have to believe that is all that those records will be used for, and secondly you have to say that the right to illegal search and seizure means nothing. If that is the country you want to live in, lets get a constitutionaly amendment for it.
    Oh, and perhaps a person might be “liberal” because that is the way their mind works, not the influence of some sort of “influcence”. Could it be possible that someone has a difference of opinion, with out some sort of mind-altering influence? I believe that I cab make these judgements without anyone influencing me, at least that is what the Daily Show told me.

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    Just another example of how the terrorists have already won. Look at how agitated we are over this. How it’s a huge debate over whether or not we need to search phone records for terrorist activities. We’re terrorized. Now we need to stop being babies about it, grow up, and move on.

  5. Barry-

    sadly, in my opinion, it is you who are the brainwashed conservative who has somehow bought into the doublespeak the administration uses in order to rule the population through fear.

    You somehow equate Iraq and terrorism, jsut like they’ve been driving into everyone and then denying. You assume that all liberals are “against the troops,” which is just another conservative propaganda technique that obviously works.

    It’s sad to me that some people assume that these things are OK for the government to do when this entire country was founded in order to gain the rights that they are now taking away.

  6. Ishmael says:

    This is what I despise about politics – you can’t discuss it without name-calling. Hawk, neocon, bleeding heart, fundy, pundit, the list goes on. I don’t really even know what half of them are supposed to mean. Many people also try to use big buzzwords to make it seem less elementary: conservative propaganda techniques, liberal corruptions.

    You guys posting above me, you sound just like the talking heads on TV. You have no links and cite no sources for your information – you’re treating your opinions as fact. You’re picking at the other posters’ political stances instead of at the issues or the facts. I hear you spouting the same lines that come from the biased media.

    Red vs. Blue is a video game, not a philosophy for running our country. When we quit talking about issues in terms of Republican spin vs Democratic spin, and actually start talking about the issues themselves, then maybe we’ll get somewhere.

    I don’t mean to flame, but I am so sick of all of this ‘liberal vs. conservative’ nit-picking.

    Maybe I’ve got it wrong, but I thought the point of this whole ‘democracy’ thing was so everyone could get together, share their ideas, and find a happy middle. Funny how ‘compromise’ is a word you never hear spoken anymore.

  7. Morgan says:

    Well, it’s an unpleasant surprise to find out that I sound like people on TV, since I don’t watch television and honestly get more news from the Consumerist than just about any other single site, but here’s a go at keeping to the issue and not saying anything that would need a citation:
    I’m very concerned about the idea that privacy is less important than life. The most important part of America, to me, are the liberties that I was led to believe when I was growing up were guaranteed us. Amongst such liberties as free speech is the right to avoid unlawful search and seisure, both of physical possessions and of records. Being able to exercise these rights is very important to me, as is being able to live my life without worrying that I’m being investigated because some wrong number I dialed a couple of times turns out to belong to someone that’s been identified as a terrorist or someone who communicates with terrorists. The government collecting phone records therefore concerns me because it seems to limit my right to privacy. I am further concerned that the government is threatening action against an entity seeking to investigate their aquisition of said records, because the only reason I can think of that they would oppose such an investigation is they believe some wrongdoing occured that they do not wish to be found.
    I would personally rather have the risk of death from terrorist action than have my liberties taken in an effort to stop every such action. The price of absolute safety is not worth it to me. I have trouble understanding the point of view of those who think that this is ok.

  8. GenXCub says:

    It’s just like that movie, V for Verizon with Natalie Portman.

  9. Tiger says:

    Oh Great a political debate. This website just lost cool points.

  10. Plasmafire says:

    Sometimes I am amazed by how well supported the Horse Flies and Dung Beetles have become, courtesy of our so called government.

  11. Barry says:

    Morgan: It’s not about major government intrusions for every crime. It’s about telephone records being accessed by the government to catch terrorists. Maybe the government actually wants to catch more bad guys than just terrorists, like maybe child molesters. That’s fine with me too.

    The law is more complex than many of you described above. Didn’t a judge recently throw out a similar case that was brought by the EFF against AT&T?

    Also, read the exceptions section at http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/405/405lect04.htm , specifically “Emergency Situation Exception–The letter of the law regarding warrants need not be applied strictly in situations with probable cause and no time to secure a warrant…There are also scenarios involving a terrorist attack or other disasters, and in such situations, it is likely the rules governing crime scene exceptions would apply.”

  12. Let’s see how well Maine lives up to its state motto of Dirigo, Latin for “I direct” or “I lead.”

    That would be awesome if they did.