Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers SayThe story?
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.
The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.
``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''
The lawsuit is related to an alleged NSA program to record and store data on calls placed by subscribers. More than 30 suits have been filed over claims that the carriers, the three biggest U.S. telephone companies, violated the privacy rights of their customers by cooperating with the NSA in an effort to track alleged terrorists.
The NSA initiative, code-named ``Pioneer Groundbreaker,'' asked AT&T unit AT&T Solutions to build exclusively for NSA use a network operations center which duplicated AT&T's Bedminster, New Jersey facility, the court papers claimed. That plan was abandoned in favor of the NSA acquiring the monitoring technology itself, plaintiffs' lawyers Bruce Afran said.Stay tuned for how this one turns out. This could be the final nail in the coffin for Bush, and the GOP in 2008.
The NSA says on its Web site that in June 2000, the agency was seeking bids for a project to ``modernize and improve its information technology infrastructure.'' The plan, which included the privatization of its ``non-mission related'' systems support, was said to be part of Project Groundbreaker.
(hat tip to Habanero at dKos)
UPDATE: Duncanidho, in comments, points out this article from April 12, 1999, in which the NSA had already announced plans for Project Groundbreaker. This is more than a year ahead of the June 2000 announcement on its website, as mentioned above.