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Saturday: May 13, 2006

Wheels Within Wheels?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:30 PM UTC

By now, everyone knows that Qwest is the only major telephone company not cooperating with the NSA’s effort to track terrorists by data mining telephone records. Betsy Newmark and others have noted the legal troubles of the Qwest CEO who made the decision, which ought (one would think) to have made the company more likely to cooperate with the federal government.

Perhaps there is more to the story than we have been told. Perhaps Qwest is cooperating, and the NSA asked them to say that they weren’t to lull present and future suspects into careless mistakes.

Or perhaps the news is technically correct, but Qwest is cooperating in some other way. Even more useful than a list of all calls made through Qwest would be the much shorter list of telephone customers who suddenly switched from other carriers to Qwest just this week, particularly if they seemed very eager to switch and lost money by prematurely ending contracts with their previous carriers. No doubt such a list would sweep up a fair number of kneejerk libertarians, deranged Kossaks, uncharacteristically-alert druggies, cautious adulterers, apolitical criminals, and simple paranoids,* but there would likely be some homicidal Islamists in the mix. I would think the NSA would find such a list very useful.

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*Not all categories are mutually exclusive.

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