Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wiretapping/Datamining May Have Come BEFORE 9/11

A huge story if true:

A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Details about the alleged NSA program have been redacted from the documents, but Nacchio's lawyer said last year that the NSA had approached the company about participating in a warrantless surveillance program to gather information about Americans' phone records.

In the court filings disclosed this week, Nacchio suggests that Qwest's refusal to take part in that program led the government to cancel a separate, lucrative contract with the NSA in retribution. He is using the allegation to try to show why his stock sale should not have been considered improper.


Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

The allegations could affect the debate on Capitol Hill over whether telecoms sued for disclosing customers' phone records and other data to the government after the Sept. 11 attacks should be given legal immunity, even if they did not have court authorization to do so.

Dems better not cave and give Bush, Cheney, and their merry wiretappers retroactive immunity for the wiretapping and datamining - especially now that the allegation is out there that they were doing it well BEFORE 9/11.

This is a hell of a development - not only the pre-9/11 plan itself, but making a large NSA contract contingent on going along with it.

But I have to wonder. If this is true, will it make any difference? Will anyone be held accountable? I doubt it.

BTW, I don't see how Nacchio was using this in defense of his stock sale. He might have tried using the info as leverage against prosecution. But I don't see it as a defense.
Boy. Had it not been for 9/11, they'd have an even harder time rationalizing this. I'm still amazed they managed to squeeze out a second term.
Abi, I have to wonder the same thing - will anybody actually hold these people accountable for their crimes. Dick Durbin said the Senate bill will not have any immunity provision in it because the admin refuses to tell them even what the programs are, so how can tehy provide immunity when they don't know whether the gov't and the telecomms are engaging in illegal activity. I hope Durbin is right in this. They should not offer immunity for ANYBODY.

NYC, it's scary to think about the reasons why they would have been datamining and wiretapping BEFORE 9/11, especially when you know Bush laughed off the warning about Bin Laden wanting to attack in the U.S.
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