Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say

M

Mecha

Guest
#1
Bloomberg
Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''

The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.

``The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that AT&T may neither confirm nor deny AT&T's participation in the alleged NSA program because doing so would cause `exceptionally grave harm to national security' and would violate both civil and criminal statutes,'' AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk said in an e-mail.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller and NSA spokesman Don Weber declined to comment.

Pioneer Groundbreaker

The NSA initiative, code-named ``Pioneer Groundbreaker,'' asked AT&T unit AT&T Solutions to build exclusively for NSA use a network operations center which duplicated AT&T's Bedminster, New Jersey facility, the court papers claimed. That plan was abandoned in favor of the NSA acquiring the monitoring technology itself, plaintiffs' lawyers Bruce Afran said.

The NSA says on its Web site that in June 2000, the agency was seeking bids for a project to ``modernize and improve its information technology infrastructure.'' The plan, which included the privatization of its ``non-mission related'' systems support, was said to be part of Project Groundbreaker.

Mayer said the Pioneer project is ``a different component'' of that initiative.

Mayer and Afran said an unnamed former employee of the AT&T unit provided them with evidence that the NSA approached the carrier with the proposed plan. Afran said he has seen the worker's log book and independently confirmed the source's participation in the project. He declined to identify the employee.

Stop Suit

On June 9, U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel in New York stopped the lawsuit from moving forward while the Federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Washington rules on a U.S. request to assign all related telephone records lawsuits to a single judge.

Robert Varettoni, a spokesman for Verizon, said he was unaware of the allegations against AT&T and declined to comment.

Earlier this week, he issued a statement on behalf of the company that Verizon had not been asked by the NSA to provide customer phone records from either its hard-wired or wireless networks. Verizon also said that it couldn't confirm or deny ``whether it has any relationship to the classified NSA program.''

Mayer's lawsuit was filed following a May 11 USA Today report that the U.S. government was using the NSA to monitor domestic telephone calls. Earlier today, USA Today said it couldn't confirm its contention that BellSouth or Verizon had contracts with the NSA to provide a database of domestic customer phone call records.

Jeff Battcher, a spokesman for Atlanta-based BellSouth, said that vindicated the company.

``We never turned over any records to the NSA,'' he said in a telephone interview. ``We've been clear all along that they've never contacted us. Nobody in our company has ever had any contact with the NSA.''

The case is McMurray v. Verizon Communications Inc., 06cv3650, in the Southern District of New York.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrew Harris in Chicago at [email protected]

Last Updated: June 30, 2006 18:46 EDT
This is not new news, but it has stronger facts behind it now.

What are your thoughts on the national surveillence programs? The legal limits? What the limits should be? Where all the programs fit in?

I will post my opinions later in the thread.

~Mecha
 
#2
I think the idea of a national surveillence program makes sense. It's a very feasible way to catch some would-be nefarious acts before they happe. However, there is the unfortunate side effect of it infringing on personal privacy, so unless they can find some way around it, it's pretty much a bad idea. I'm not sure what the legal implications of it are exactly, and I'm sure that the judicial branch will be able to provide a better constitutional interpretation of the legality of it than any of us could.
 
A

Anonym0uz Bitch

Guest
#3
When I was in London they had camera's everywhere, on buildings, street corners, etc.
 
M

Mecha

Guest
#4
However, there is the unfortunate side effect of it infringing on personal privacy, so unless they can find some way around it, it's pretty much a bad idea.
What is a "bad idea"? Your sentence is extremely unclear in context and grammatically.

I'm not sure what the legal implications of it are exactly
I am asking for your thoughts on it, so if you have one, feel free to share it.

and I'm sure that the judicial branch will be able to provide a better constitutional interpretation of the legality of it than any of us could.
Now this is puzzling. Whats the point of a forum if you immediately defer debate to authorities (which, happens to sound almost verbatim the logiccal fallacy of appeal to authority)?

~Mecha

Do not tell a Moderator what to do again when it comes to what their next post should be like. - Piccolo
 

Kazmarov

For a Free Scotland
#5
I think that national surveillance through wiretapping is a violation of my civil liberties (Patriot Act be damned). I think that trying to monitor calls without warrants creates too much executive power and destroys the checks and balances of our government.
 
A

Anonym0uz Bitch

Guest
#6
Ok Mecha, how about you dont tell a moderator what to do, I am still on topic, I was pointing out that London appears to have a national surveillance system, not wire types but cameras, so which one is worse?
 
M

Mecha

Guest
#7
What are your thoughts on the national surveillance programs?
As evidenced by Bush's admitted leaking about Wilson in the Plame affair, and the article's argument about Bush's use of illegal surveillance before 9/11 (his Administration's justification for it all), these men have no shame in destroying American government or anyone else in the way of their twisted goals. The national surveillance programs are just one cog in their scheming.

The legal limits?
All legal protections afforded by law, treaty and the Constitution should be observed by all all government bodies (ie NSA).

What the limits should be?
The current legal framework has allowed far, far too much latitude (Executive Orders, which is practically a coup) and loopholes (ie Echelon, multinational spying programs).

Where all the programs fit in?
Some are legal, some are not. Rule of law is the first step. Congressional oversight is the second step.

Ok Mecha, how about you dont tell a moderator what to do, I am still on topic, I was pointing out that London appears to have a national surveillance system, not wire types but cameras, so which one is worse?
On topic? No. Ignoring that CCTV is local enforcement, not national surveillance... Even then, a sentence fragment mentioning it is not "pointing out" anything.

Telling you what to do? Is "Please be on topic and remotely grammatically correct if you choose to post again." telling you to do anything? No, I was asking that you put the effort into perhaps forming complete sentences, as that is required in the pursuit of discussion.

~Mecha
 
#8
What is a "bad idea"? Your sentence is extremely unclear in context and grammatically.
"Bad idea" referrs to the subject at hand. The subject is "national surveillence program" which was the subject of the sentence, the paragraph, and this entire topic. It is a bad idea because "there is the unfortunate side effect of it infringing on personal privacy". It is neither unclear in context, nor is the grammar wrong.

I am asking for your thoughts on it, so if you have one, feel free to share it.
My thoughts were expressed in the previous sentence of my first post... Apparently you didn't think it was clear enough, so I'll try making it overly obvious: I think a national surveillance system is a bad idea. I think a national surveillance system is a bad idea because it infringes on personal privacy. I think a national surveillance system is a bad idea because it infringes on personal privacy, unless they can find some way of doing it that does not infringe on personal privacy. Clear enough?

Now this is puzzling. Whats the point of a forum if you immediately defer debate to authorities (which, happens to sound almost verbatim the logiccal fallacy of appeal to authority)?
I have no legal training. The Supreme Court has decades of legal training. Therefore, The Supreme Court knows more about legal matters than I do. Therefore, I am of the opinion that in most cases, what The Supreme Court decides is legal according to the Constitution is rightfully legal, because my personal interpretation of the Constitution is relatively uneducated and is based on nothing whereas theirs is extremely educated and is based on years of study and thousands of previous court cases. This is not a case of ipse dixit. The legal definition (West's Encyclopedia of American Law) is "An unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the individual who makes it." It is one method of obtaining propositional knowledge and is a logical fallacy because its method of inference is not rock-solid. On the other hand, there is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion of the authority is likely to be true. I am arguing that The Supreme Court's judgement is LIKELY to be true, and if nothing else, is far more likely to be true than any interpretation you or I could make. Additionally, if something it only similar to a logical fallacy, but does not fit the conditions of the fallacy itself, it is not the fallacy and therefore is still a valid argument.
 
M

Mecha

Guest
#9
Clear enough?
Crystal. I apologize for those mistakes.

I believe what confused me on your original statement was the conflicting statements that it was effective and unwanted due to an attribute it may or may not have, as "national surveilence program"s are not monolithic.
However, within what limits should privacy be respected? Should only the private sphere (ie things you do in your home that no one should care about) be protected, or should the public sphere of life be protected from government by the government being limited to a need-(and-authorized)-to-know basis only? Do warrants play a role in your view of the legitimacy of national intelligence programs as well?

~Mecha
 
#10
conflicting statements that it was effective and unwanted
I believe it is effective, but it is unwanted... consider 1984... every aspect of life was monitored by the government, and sure enough there was very little crime... but all privacy is gone and life is terrible because of it. While this is an extreme case of it, it can be scaled downwards with a lesser amount of monitoring, but less effectiveness.

However, within what limits should privacy be respected?
I think that if you are doing something which is generally considered to be private (things in your home, things in a private room of a hotel, bathrooms, phone calls, mail, etc.), spying should be prohibited unless there is a reasonable cause for it (basically, a warrant needs to be achieved). I think public places and activities (things at work, things in the lobby or halls of a hotel, stores, public places, sports, etc.) can be open to monitoring... after all, if they really wanted they could have a guy sit in a chair all day and watch things happen, and that would be perfectly legal, and there isn't much of a difference between that and having a camera watching things.

Do warrants play a role in your view of the legitimacy of national intelligence programs as well?
I think warrants should have to be achieved in order to spy on any private locations or activities, although once a warrant is gotten they should not need to inform the party that they are being spied on.