AT&T's Unique Relationship with NSA Comes Under Scrutiny After Release of Snowden Documents

Posted Aug. 26, 2015

MP3 Interview with Mark Klein, AT&T/NSA whistleblower, conducted by Scott Harris


Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who remains in self-imposed exile in Russia, released new documents recently which reveal the scope of telecom giant AT&T's decades long relationship with the NSA. The documents, covering the period from 2003 to 2013, disclose that AT&T's partnership with the NSA included providing the spy agency access to billions of domestic emails and offered technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The documents, examined by The New York Times and ProPublica, also reveal that in 2011 AT&T gave the NSA access to 1.1 billion domestic cellphone records a day, in the months before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The company, which in 2011 earned $189 million from its partnership with the NSA, is reported to have installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs in the United States.

One of those secret hubs, in room #641A located in the SBC communications building in San Francisco, was discovered in 2003 by AT&T technician Mark Klein. Three years later Klein launched a lawsuit against AT&T with the Electronic Frontier Foundation which claimed that the company was providing the NSA access to Internet traffic from other telecom companies. When Congress provided telecom companies working with the NSA retroactive immunity in 2008, the suit was dismissed. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Mark Klein who discusses his decision to publicly disclose what he knew about AT&T's surveillance, what the new Snowden documents reveal and his view of recent Congressional reforms of the NSA surveillance program.

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