a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process

Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchios lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwests refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.

Hmm. If true, what a perfect dodge – if the phone company exec refuses to play along, his company loses a very lucrative NSA contract, so sorry – and ends up in a spot of legal bother owing to the enthusiasm the Attorney General’s office showed in investigating troublesome critics and Democrats. He doesn’t play along, he loses a lot of money and goes to jail for “improper” stock manipulation.

The title quote is from the defense attorney’s statement.  The story needs more corroboration, because the redacted bits of evidence are kind of conveniently hard to read.

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