Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Yahoo Chiefs Get Tongue Lashing From Pro-FISA Congressman

I find it truly ironic that the CEO and the chief legal representative for the internet giant Yahoo! were read the riot act over their actions in 2004, when they provided information on the online activities of a Chinese National to PRC investigators.

Let me explain.

Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan were in DC today to explain to Congressional investigators why they turned over information on a Chinese Journalist, Shi Tao. Shi was tried for subversive activities by the Peoples Republic of China government, convicted mainly based on the Yahoo! information, and given a 10 year sentence for “engaging in pro-democracy efforts” that they deemed were subversive.

Explaining themselves, Yang and Callahan said they were merely complying with what they regarded as a legal order, legal in China, they said.

“It's my understanding that under Chinese law these are lawful”, Callahan explained

Then all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks broke loose.

Tom Lantos (D–Ca): "Why do you insist on repeating the phrase 'lawful orders'? These were demands by a police state.''

The tongue lashing was bi-partisan. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., compared Yahoo's cooperation with the Chinese government to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

And then this from Lantos:

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.”

Now the irony. Chris Smith voted Yea on S 1927, the Protect America Act, the legislation that took away my rights against unlawful search and seizure. Tom Lantos was there but withheld his vote. He voted present, not voting.

If Yang and Callahan are "moral pygmies" for turning over online information to China, what must Smith and Lantos be for surrendering rights that all Americans have had since the Bill of Rights was ratified?

Foul, they would cry. We voted (or didn’t oppose) for a law to protect America from terrorists. America is not a cruel oppressive regime. We have the right to protect ourselves and if that means listening in on your phone conversations and emails, we did (or failed to not do) the right thing. China is the oppressive regime, not America.

Give it time Chris. Give it time, Tom.

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