| AT&T engineer says Bush Administration sought to implement domestic spying within two weeks of taking office
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Nearly 1,300 words into Sunday's New York Times article revealing new details of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, the lawyer for an AT&T engineer alleges that "within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”
In a New Jersey federal court case, the engineer claims that AT&T sought to create a phone center that would give the NSA access to "all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through" a New Jersey network hub.
The former AT&T employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Times said he took part in several discussions with agency officials about the plan.
"The officials, he said, discussed ways to duplicate the Bedminster system in Maryland so the agency “could listen in” with unfettered access to communications that it believed had intelligence value and store them for later review," Times reporters Eric Lichtblau, James Risen and Scott Shane wrote. "There was no discussion of limiting the monitoring to international communications, he said."
“At some point,” he told the paper, “I started feeling something isn’t right.”
"Two other AT&T employees who worked on the proposal discounted his claims, saying in interviews that the project had simply sought to improve the N.S.A.’s internal communications systems and was never designed to allow the agency access to outside communications."
AT&T's spokesman said they didn't comment on national security matters, as did a spokesman for Qwest, which was also approached but apparently rebuffed the plan. The lawyer for the engineer and others in the New Jersey case says AT&T's internal documents would vindicate his clients.
“What he saw,” Bruce Afran, a New Jersey lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Times, “was decisive evidence that within two weeks of taking office, the Bush administration was planning a comprehensive effort of spying on Americans’ phone usage.”
The full Times article is here.
Originally published on Sunday December 16, 2007.