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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

1. Freedom Rings

Verizon (VZ - Get Report) has found its calling.

The New York telco and rivals AT&T (T - Get Report) and BellSouth (BLS) have been getting belted around over government telecom monitoring. USA Today reports that the three big phone companies have allowed the National Security Agency to secretly collect Americans' calling records.

Only Qwest (Q - Get Report), under the courageous leadership of now-indicted CEO Joe Nacchio , declined to play, USA Today reports. That left the other Bells scrambling to profess their purity.

"Based on our review to date, we have confirmed no such contract exists and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA," BellSouth said. "If and when AT&T is asked by government agencies for help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions," AT&T told The Wall Street Journal.

But as usual , the strongest comments came from Verizon.

"Verizon does not, and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition," the company said last Friday.

No one wants one of those, obviously. But evidently something still smelled fishy to Verizon, so on Tuesday, it noted once more that it stands above the fray.

In doing so, Verizon reminded us that it isn't just a telecommunications giant. Why, it's a fearless defender of our freedom.

"Verizon always stands ready ... to help protect the country from terrorist attack," Verizon thunders in a second press release on the subject. "We owe this duty to our fellow citizens."

Right on. As Rudy Giuliani famously said on the morning of Sept. 11, "I'm sure glad Verizon is my phone company."

Dumb-o-Meter score: 93. OK, maybe it was President Bush he was glad about, but we still feel safer now.

To view Colin Barr's video take on Verizon's entry in Five Dumbest this week, click here .
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