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Ransacking Liberty: The Phone Companies and the NSA – A SPECIAL REPORT

It’s been a year since the public learned that AT&T and other phone companies might be providing logs of all phone calls and emails to the National Security Agency. Today we talk with an expert on wrongful government surveillance of citizens, Professor Christopher Pyle of Mount Holyoke College. He blew the whistle on the government spying program (Cointelpro) in 1970, at the time of Watergate. And he says that with current internet and computer technologies, today’s infrastructure has the potential for squashing citizen dissent and whistleblowing, worse than anything in the 1970’s. He describes evidence that the deterrence against whistleblowers is already happening, including allegations that the information in the phone logs is being shared by the NSA with other government agencies such as the CIA and FBI, and that it is being used to stop leaks from the Bush Administration. He also says that the vacuum-cleaner style approach of the alleged program is not a cost effective strategy to deter terrorism.

We also speak with shareholder activist, Conrad MacKerron of the As You Sow Foundation, who has filed shareholder resolutions to hold AT&T and Verizon accountable. In response, AT&T has asked the Bush Administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission to block the shareholder resolution from going forward — asserting that if AT&T had to report on these issues they’d be disclosing state secrets.