Now, in order to thwart an intelligence program that they lack the votes to stop, they decide to let the trial lawyers handle it, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
We asked one phone company executive what he'd do, after Friday's expiration, in response to a government request for cooperation. His answer was blunt: "I'm not doing it. If I don't have compulsion, I can't get out of court [and those lawsuits]. . . . I'm not going to do something voluntarily." Having talked to telecom executives, we can tell you this view is well-nigh universal.George W. Bush wins two presidential elections. He is the commander-in-chief, and as such, is responsible for this country's security. His approach was explicitly chosen in 2004, during the war.
Mr. Reyes claims that existing wiretap orders can stay in place for a year. But that doesn't account for new targets, which may require new kinds of telecom cooperation and thus a new court order. Mr. Reyes can make all the assertions he wants about immunity, but they are no defense against a lawsuit. For that matter, without a statute in place, even a renewed order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is likely to be challenged as illegitimate. A telecom CEO who cooperates without a court order is all but guaranteed to get not merely a wiretap lawsuit, but also a shareholder suit for putting the company at legal risk.
Instead, trial lawyers and activist judges will subvert the will of the people.