NSA Snooping Predated 9/11
Neocons are fond of beating their chests and claiming with self-righteous indignation that complaints aimed at the Bush administration’s violation of the Constitution, in particular the NSA’s vacuum cleaner approach to telecommunications snooping, are warranted because al-Qaeda attacked us on
Of course, this neocon argument is pure hockey sticks, as underscored by court documents released this week in the case of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, convicted of insider trading. “Nacchio unsuccessfully attempted to defend himself by arguing that he actually expected Qwest’s 2001 earnings to be higher because of secret NSA contracts, which, he contends, were denied by the NSA after he declined in a February 27, 2001 meeting to give the NSA customer calling records, court documents released this week show,” reports Wired. Nacchio’s lawyer, Herbert Stern, expanded on this in a statement:
In light of pending litigation, I have been reluctant to issue any public statements. However, because of apparent confusion concerning Joe Nacchio and his role in refusing to make private telephone records of Qwest customers available to the NSA immediately following the Patriot Act, and in order to negate misguided attempts to relate Mr. Nacchio’s conduct to present litigation, the following are the facts.
In the Fall of 2001, at a time when there was no investigation of Qwest or Mr. Nacchio by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission, and while Mr. Nacchio was Chairman and CEO of Qwest and was serving pursuant to the President’s appointment as the Chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, Qwest was approached to permit the Government access to the private telephone records of Qwest customers.
Mr. Nacchio made inquiry as to whether a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request. When he learned that no such authority had been granted and that there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process, including the
Special Courtwhich had been established to handle such matters, Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act.
Accordingly, Mr. Nacchio issued instructions to refuse to comply with these requests. These requests continued throughout Mr. Nacchio’s tenure and until his departure in June of 2002.
Of course, it is just a coincidence Mr. Nacchio was convicted of insider trading after refusing to allow the government to violate the privacy of Qwest’s customers.
Not that it matters. Telecoms have connived with the government to snoop on the American people for many decades, beginning during WWII with the Armed Forces Security Agency, the precursor to the NSA. In the late 40s and 1950s, the NSA kicked off Project MINARET and Project SHAMROCK and
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