Accusation: Domestic Spying Began Before 9/11

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Well before the horrific 9/11 attacks, the National Security Agency reportedly approached former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio for access to the company’s customer phone records.

Nacchio had been sentenced to six years in prison earlier in 2007, over insider trading charges. He has claimed he expected earnings to be higher in 2001, due to the potential arrival of secret NSA contracts.

The Wired Threat Level blog said Nacchio refused a February 27, 2001 request from the NSA for phone records. That refusal prompted the government to retaliate by denying contracts to Qwest, according to Nacchio’s court documents.

In his insider trading case, the presiding judge would not permit that testimony to be brought into the trial. The Rocky Mountain News said, “Nacchio would have to take the stand to raise the classified defense,” at his original trial.

Court documents from the original trial cited by Rocky Mountain News have no trace of Nacchio’s contention:

The topic itself is redacted each time it appears in the hundreds of pages of documents, but there is mention of Nacchio believing the request was both inappropriate and illegal, and repeatedly refusing to go along with it.

The NSA contract was awarded in July 2001 to companies other than Qwest.

Nacchio’s case is on appeal, but it now poses the possibility of revealing domestic surveillance began before 9/11. Meanwhile, the House has a bill under consideration to address domestic spying; the bill has elicited a veto threat from President Bush if it does not include “retroactive immunity” for the telecoms concerned.

Accusation: Domestic Spying Began Before 9/11
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