Good discussion about what is going on. Bush wants to let the old FISA expire if he doesn’t get his way with telecom immunity. In other words, if Bush doesn’t get his way with granting immunity for telecoms such as AT&T and Verizon in domestic spying, he would rather put the nation in danger by letting the standing FISA legislation expire.
This is some of what the new immunity clause, that Bush wants to add to the standing FISA legislation is all about:
Mark Klein is the AT&T whistle blower that provided this account (From Ryan Singel of Wired):
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers’ phone calls, and shunted its customers’ internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the company.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF’s lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.
On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.
According to a statement released by Klein’s attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T’s #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.
“I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,” Klein wrote. “The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.”
Klein’s job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.
“While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T’s internet service) circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal,” Klein wrote.
The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, according to Klein’s statement.
The secret room also included data-mining equipment called a Narus STA 6400, “known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets,” according to Klein’s statement.
Narus, whose website touts AT&T as a client, sells software to help internet service providers and telecoms monitor and manage their networks, look for intrusions, and wiretap phone calls as mandated by federal law.
Klein said he came forward because he does not believe that the Bush administration is being truthful about the extent of its extrajudicial monitoring of Americans’ communications. more
A federal judge rules for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its suit against AT&T for cooperating with the NSA to spy on customers.
By Kim Zetter
May 18, 2006 | SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge denied AT&T’s request on Wednesday to force the Electronic Frontier Foundation to return documents the nonprofit organization received from a retired AT&T employee.
The documents that former AT&T technician Mark Klein gave EFF earlier this year, and which the court has sealed, contain details of what EFF and Klein are alleging is a secret agreement between the telecommunications company and the National Security Agency to provide the government agency with illegal access to communications belonging to its customers. In a preface to the documents, Klein said he was motivated to blow the whistle in 2004 “when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on Internet traffic.”
The documents, which Klein released to the New York Times and other newspapers before the court sealed them, describe how AT&T diverted the communications of customers to a secret room that the company maintained at its hubs in San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Calif., Los Angeles and Seattle. The rooms housed “computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company’s popular WorldNet service and the entire Internet,” Klein wrote. “These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the Internet and analyze exactly what people are doing.”
Klein’s assertions help support a class-action lawsuit that EFF filed against AT&T in January on behalf of its customers, alleging that the company violated the wiretap statute, the FISA statute and several communications and privacy laws in aiding the government’s domestic spying operation without a court order.
AT&T claimed the documents contained trade secrets and asked the court to force EFF to return them to prevent the organization from distributing them further. EFF acknowledged that it had provided the documents to two technical consultants, who helped investigate and validate Klein’s claims. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled against AT&T, but did order EFF not to give the documents to anyone else. The order does not, however, prevent Klein from sharing the documents with anyone else. Klein is not a party to the EFF lawsuit against AT&T, and so the judge couldn’t prevent Klein from disclosing the documents.
AT&T spokesman Marc Bien declined to comment after the hearing on what action if any the company might still take against Klein to protect the trade secrets that it says are in the documents that Klein possesses.
Klein’s attorney, James J. Brosnahan, said the documents should be made public since the public’s right to know “trumps any proprietary information.” He added that although Klein had shared his information with members of the Senate, he had not given the documents to anyone since the court sealed them and would not do so now, out of respect for the court. Brosnahan said he thought it was interesting, however, that AT&T had not yet taken any legal action against his client. “They have, what, a hundred lawyers up there? And they haven’t sued him,” he said.
Brosnahan said the real issue, however, was not the documents but whether AT&T had diverted all customer correspondence and Web traffic to the government. “Someone in this country has got to answer the question quickly: Is that true? And if that’s true, when will it stop?”
Bien would not take questions and only responded with a prepared statement after the hearing. “AT&T does not provide customer information to law enforcement agencies or government agencies without legal authorization … 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. “
A number of questions remain to be answered by the court before the case can go forward. Both the Department of Justice and AT&T are seeking to have the case dismissed — the DOJ on the basis that the case will yield classified information and harm national security, and AT&T on the grounds that the company’s actions are immune from liability.
With regard to national security, EFF lawyer Cindy Cohn said that nothing EFF had filed so far contained state secrets. Cohn said that EFF gave the government the documents before filing them and that the government allowed EFF to file them. “They would not have granted that permission if they claimed that it was a state secret. So plainly the information that we’ve filed so far is not a state secret.” more
Filed under: Fascism, FISA, George Bush, Terrorist Rhetoric | Tagged: AT&T, FISA, Keith Olbermann, Mark, Mark Klein, Narus, Richard A. Clarke, Verizon, wire tapping | 1 Comment »