WMR has learned from sources who worked in senior positions for the telecommunications company Qwest that its former chairman and CEO, Joseph Nacchio, was threatened with retaliation after he refused to participate in an unconstitutional and illegal National Security Agency (NSA) wiretapping program after he met with NSA officials on February 27, 2001, some six months before the 9/11 attacks. Nacchio refused to turn over customer records without a court order -- something NSA did not possess at the time it made its request.
After Nacchio refused NSA’s request on the grounds that it was illegal, sources close to Nacchio reported his legal problems with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission began in earnest. First, Qwest lost out on several lucrative federal government contracts and second, Nacchio was indicted and convicted in 2007 of 19 counts of insider stock trading. Nacchio was sentenced to six years in the Schuykill federal prison camp in Minersville, Pennsylvania, where he is now assigned prisoner number 33973-013.
In January, US District Judge Marcia Krieger of the 10th Circuit Court in Denver denied Nacchio’s motion for a new trial. Krieger was nominated for the federal bench by President George W. Bush on September 10, 2001. The September 10 date is significant -- it was then clear that Nacchio was not going to be a player in the NSA and FBI illegal surveillance programs and it was the day before the Bush administration would sweep aside the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Qwest is headquartered in Denver.
The illegal NSA surveillance program, once known by its highly-classified code-name STELLAR WIND, was revealed by AT&T employee Mark Klein, who divulged NSA’s “secret room” on the 6th floor at AT&T’s central office on Folsom Street in San Francisco. The “secret room” was next door to the 4ESS phone switch.
According to AT&T documents, NSA had direct wiretaps on key Internet circuits on the floor above. NSA’s operation conducted vacuum-cleaner copying of the data stream of the Internet, which included e-mail, web browsing, VOIP phone calls (e.g., Skype) and all the other common Internet services. There is informed speculation that because of an aggressive AT&T internal campaign to transfer all its old long-distance traffic to fiber lines, traditional phone calls that passed through the 4ESS switch were likely transferred to the Internet circuits, making phone calls also very likely subject to NSA eavesdropping.
AT&T and Verizon agreed to participate in the STELLAR WIND program.