Over the weekend, the New York Times and ProPublica published “AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale,” which states: “The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.
“While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as ‘highly collaborative,’ while another lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.’ …
“The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, were jointly reviewed by the New York Times and ProPublica. The N.S.A., AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files. ‘We don’t comment on matters of national security,’ an AT&T spokesman said. …
“After the Times disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005, plaintiffs began trying to sue AT&T and the N.S.A. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that three years earlier, he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment.”
MARK KLEIN, markk2000 at comcast.net
Klein was an AT&T technician who in 2006 blew the whistle on AT&T’s cooperation with the NSA. In 2009, his book Wiring Up The Big Brother Machine…And Fighting It was published.
He said today: “The documents prove I was right, and if a court had been willing to allow the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit against AT&T to go forward, we would have won. But Congress knowingly put a retroactive pseudo-‘legal’ stamp on the violations of law and the Constitution, and the courts accepted it. Both parties are to blame, all three branches of government are culpable.
“I’d gotten my story out through the New York Times in April 2006 after the Los Angeles Times had killed it. The editor who killed the story was Dean Baquet — who is now executive editor at the New York Times.
“Obama had campaigned against immunizing the telcos, but by the time the vote happened in 2008, he had sewn up the nomination and switched sides. It was a betrayal even before he got to the White House.
“The entire congressional leadership pushed this, especially the ‘gang of eight’ who were the ones who actually knew what the immunity was about. My own senator, Dianne Feinstein, who was on the intelligence committee, wouldn’t even speak with me, she was all about covering up for the NSA.
“Many in congress who voted for the immunity blindly voted to immunize a crime details of which they didn’t know or didn’t want to know.
“It wasn’t just AT&T of course, it was that the Bush administration had brazenly violated FISA and of course the Constitution. They didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, which is why they needed the immunity.”