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AP: If Telecom Immunity Doesn’t Pass, AT&T Could Be “Bankrupted”

Somebody asked me yesterday what the next round in the FISA battle would look like. Well, here we have the Associated Press publishing a teleco press release like it was news. Glimmering previews?

The most contentious question is whether telecommunications companies that helped the government tap American communications after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks should be granted immunity from lawsuits stemming from their actions. The surveillance was done without permission from the secret court created 30 years ago to protect Americans from unwarranted government intrusions on their privacy.

Senate leaders hoped to decide this week whether to shield the telecommunications companies from the roughly 40 pending civil lawsuits alleging violations of communications and wiretapping laws. The White House says if the cases go forward they could reveal information that would compromise national security. If they succeed, the companies could be bankrupted.

Right. AT&T has a market capitalization of roughly $241.8 billion today. Verizon has a market cap of $126.25 billion. Which makes it a bit hard to cry for them in the situation, because nobody this side of Barbara Mikulski thinks they didn’t have teams of corporate lawyers advising them about this. But if the AP believes that the potential damages could wipe out these vast corporate empires, it would be interesting to know their math.

The tobacco industry managed to factor in a $145 billion judgment without filing for bankruptcy. The financial world did not slip off its axis.

So calm down, AP. Have a cocktail. Breathe into a paper bag.

Wouldn’t want to fearmonger, you know.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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