HEAVY HAND - Bush Administration sues Maine

Well, they've done it now. The Bush Administration has sued both the state of Maine and the Verizon corporation, seeking to stop the investigation being mulled by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (see "State Will Not Investigate Verizon - Yet," by Jeff Inglis and Laura Lanz-Frolio, August 11).

Specifically, the administration is seeking to stop Verizon from answering questions posed by the PUC regarding Verizon's participation (or non-participation) in a program in which phone companies provided huge logs of their customers' calls to the federal government, as reported back in May in USA Today.

What does this mean? Well, we can be sure that the feds don't want Verizon to answer because the answer would reveal something of the federal program. But are they concealing something legal, or not? Under Maine law, phone records must be kept private. So Maine authorities would seem to be well within their jurisdiction to determine whether a state law has been broken.

What do you think the feds' move means?
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