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[liberationtech] Why didn't tech company leaders blow the whistle?

Yosem Companys companys at stanford.edu
Sun Jun 9 11:41:07 PDT 2013


From: John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re corporate governance and surveillance
Date: June 9, 2013 4:31:05 AM EDT
To: dave at farber.net

Dave asks some great questions about why the people who had power over
these networks didn't blow the whistle instead of some anonymous
insider having to do it.  Here's one possible answer.

> How far up the chain of command did the decision-making process
> reach?  Did the NSA contact the CEO of Verizon, the chairman of the
> board of Google, etc. and say, "Do you mind if we take a peek?" or
> did they target some VP of operations and say, "Do this for us, and
> don't tell your boss"?
>
> If the decision to comply with the request reached the executive
> levels, why were there no mass resignations, a la Nixon's Saturday
> Night Massacre?  Why did no one take a stand and say, "I will not
> sign off on doing this"?  If some number of executives all tendered
> their resignations with no explanation, Wall Street would have taken
> notice.

We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11.  They
contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers.  After
he consulted with Legal, he refused.  As a result, NSA canceled a
bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top
bidder for.  And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put
him in prison for insider trading -- on the theory that he knew of
anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for
the government, while the public didn't because it was classified and
he couldn't legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock
knowing those things.

This CEO's name is Joseph P. Nacchio and TODAY he's still serving a
trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence today for quietly refusing
an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.

This has ugly parallels with the Aaron Swartz case and with the
federal persecution of hundreds of state-legal medical marijuana
providers.  In this case a corrupt federal prosecutor (is there any
other kind?) did the dirty work of the NSA by performing an "ordinary,
everyday" legal rape of an innocent person: find any of the half a
dozen federal felonies that every person commits every day, and
prosecute them for it.  Not because their "crime" was terrible or
heinous.  But because they didn't kowtow to some smiling bastard in an
out-of-control agency.

See:

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Nacchio>

and the files 1 thru 7 attached to this 2007 Denver Post story:

<http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_7230967?source=commented>

and, of course:

Three felonies a day: how the feds target the innocent, by Harvey Silverglate
<http://openlibrary.org/works/OL5827943W/Three_felonies_a_day>

"Three Felonies a Day is the story of how citizens from all walks of
life -- doctors, accountants, businessmen, political activists, and
others -- have found themselves the targets of federal prosecutions,
despite sensibly believing that they did nothing wrong, broke no
laws, and harmed not a single person. From the perspective of both a
legal practitioner who has represented the wrongfully-accused, and
of a legal observer who has written about these trends for the past
four decades, Three Felonies a Day brings home how individual
liberty is threatened by zealous crusades from the Department of
Justice. Even the most intelligent and informed citizen (including
lawyers and judges, for that matter) cannot predict with any
reasonable assurance whether a wide range of seemingly ordinary
activities might be regarded by federal prosecutors as felonies."

        John Gilmore



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