New Orleans I know the people, but this is one where I didn’t get any calls or celebratory emails declaring victory, largely because this issue is so down-low that there are literally gag orders not allowing any of them to confirm, deny, or even talk about this stuff, but there seems little doubt that we have CREDO Mobile, “America’s only progressive phone service,” as it likes to call itself, to thank for being the only phone company stiffening up its back and actually standing up to the government for its customers privacy.
In a short piece by Jennifer Valentino DeVries of only 5 paragraphs buried deeply at the bottom of page 3 of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal, the headline caught my eye: “Judge Rejects Secretive U.S. Surveillance by FBI Agents.” A federal district judge in Northern California “struck down a controversial set of laws allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seek people’s records without a court’s approval, saying the strict secrecy orders demanded by the laws are not constitutional.” Judge Susan Illston “ordered the government to stop issuing national security letters or enforcing their gag orders…”
CREDO with more than 3 million folks on its progressive activist alert list would normally have blasted this news out everywhere, but Judge Illston stayed the enforcement of her order to see if the government is going to appeal her decision. The Justice Department said they were “reviewing the order.” They probably want to look into this thing called the First Amendment which some of us fools still believe guarantees free speech (NO GAG ORDERS EVER!) and this old school “separation of powers” notion both of which led Illston to put a stop to these so-called “national security letters” that have accelerated in this neo-McCarthy era since 9/11.
When the FBI can get away with it, which is always with every phone company except CREDO as well as a lot of other outfits where the spies are snooping, they get phone, financial, and electronic records (read email etc) without having to say so much as “howdy do” to any judge or grand jury anywhere as long as someone in the FBI says “ok on my say so” and flashes the no-limit American-express card that starts with the “t” word alleging this is a terrorism search. CREDO or anyone else can say nothing because the orders come attached to a requirement to button your lips to one and all except your attorneys.
I covered this all in a blog last year on July 21, 2012 after reading an earlier story that was reported in the Wall Street Journal, which left little doubt and convinced me that the silent, unknown, unrevealed phone carrier had to be CREDO and that the courageous CEO had to be Michael Kieschnick, a friend and comrade, who would never have hesitated to challenge this, regardless of the potential consequences.
Since they still can’t say, you can reserve judgment of course and wait and see. On the other hand if you every happen to walk the line, stir the pot a bit, and try to work for social change, and use a phone while doing so, there can’t be much doubt, if there ever was, that you need to get on the blower, juice up your internet, and stand in line if you have to and get your ass over to CREDO with your phone business. If CREDO and Michael are standing – and winning – for you, then there can’t be much doubt that all of us should be doing the same for them!