Friday, May 12, 2006

Employees of the Month
Employees of the Month
Cotty Chubb

Here's a way to send some thanks to Joe Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, who initially refused the NSA's request for records, and Robert Notebaert, the current CEO who inherited the mess and blew the NSA off. Must not be easy to start a job with the Federal Government threatening you.

Note that, according to USA Today, "an NSA representative suggested that Qwest's refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled. In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government."

Foot-dragging. Nice.

Seems like Nacchio and Notebaert tried to work it out.

"Unable to get comfortable with what NSA was proposing, Qwest's lawyers asked NSA to take its proposal to the FISA court. According to the sources, the agency refused. The NSA's explanation did little to satisfy Qwest's lawyers. 'They told (Qwest) they didn't want to do that because FISA might not agree with them,' one person recalled. For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office. A second person confirmed this version of events."

You're running a modern telecommunications company, fully aware that you have a well established legal responsibility to maintain the privacy of your customer's records, and you think, "Well, let's see. We ask the NSA for a legal opinion from the court created to rule on these sorts of things that it's okay to turn over these records, and they say no. So we ask how about the attorney general (John Ashcroft, by the way, not Ramsay Clark) and they say no. What are we going do? Compromise our customers' privacy, under threat of retribution, for a request of highly dubious legality?"

If you're C. Michael Armstrong (AT&T), you say sure. Ditto F. Duane Ackerman (BellSouth), Ed Whitacre (SBC), and Ivan Seidenberg (Verizon). No problem.

But not Joe Nacchio or Robert Notebaert.

Qwest's website gives you a way to nominate an employee for most exemplifying the Qwest Spirit of Service.

Why don't you let them know that you think Notebaert and Nacchio are worthy of commendation?

You can do that here.

We all owe them a vote of thanks. They have served their country and its Constitution well.