Is Comcast the new AT&T?

comcast lobby email

We all know this stuff goes on. Lobbyist ghost writes letters for elected officials or even drafting legal amendments to try and turn their way towards their clients. But it’s not pretty when you see it in broad daylight like this. The latest exhibit is from Comcast who is using their influence to fabricate support for their proposed merger with Time Warner Cable, creating the essentially the largest ISP monopoly in the nation.

This is what happens when you get a monopoly. Last year Comcast was the new AOL, this year, it’s the new AT&T.

For those of you who forgot what it was like the last time a single communications provider was the only game in town, I present you with Lily Tomlin who, on Saturday Night Live in the late 70s, skewered the then dominant AT&T on a regular basis.

We’re the phone company, we don’t care because we don’t have to.

Privileged information? That’s so cute.

NSA Wiretaps and AT&T

Dust off the conspiracy books – this one’s getting juicy. Tonight Wired posted the full memo from the whistle-blower at AT&T in San Francisco that tipped off the recent firestorm around suspected domestic spying by the NSA. It gets pretty technical but deep in on page three the writer hints that there may have been some deal-making going on.

The USA Today story that broke this news last week leveled charges that Verizon, Bell South, and AT&T had all cooperated with the NSA spying program. Since then, both Verizon and Bell South have come out with carefully worded statements denying that they had handed domestic phone call records to the NSA. I have not heard a similar statement from AT&T.

Mark Klein, the whistle-blower, writes that the wire-tapping was coordinated out of a Mississippi AT&T office,

As a sign that government spying goes hand-in-hand with union-busting, the entire (Communication Workers of America) Local 6377 which had jurisdiction over the Bridgeton NOC was wiped out in early 2002 when AT&T fired the union work force and later rehired them as nonunion “management” employees.) The cut-in work was performed in 2003, and since then new circuits are connected through the “splitter” cabinet.

I wonder if the US Govt. cut a deal with the AT&T to coorperate on the NSA wire-taps in return for going easy on them while they busted up their union during restructuring. It’s unlikely that the many branches of govt. are coordinated and monolithic as Mark supposes but it does get you thinking and would be great grist for a movie plot.

UPDATE: has posted a full summary of their case against the NSA along with links to all the relevant legal documents.