AT&T Gave Feds Full Access to Phone, Web Traffic

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 by: David Gutierrez

(NaturalNews) A former AT&T technician who retired in 2004 has told Congress that the telecommunications company cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA) by building special routing rooms that would allow the agency to monitor all U.S. internet traffic.

Mark Klein, who worked for AT&T for 22 years with no special security clearance, told Congress that in 2003, he was transferred to an office that was responsible for building a “secret room” connected to the company’s Internet room in San Francisco. Another technician showed him wiring diagrams for the room.

“That was my ‘aha’ moment,” Klein said. “They’re sending the entire Internet to the secret room.” Klein realized that the room was set up to split all Internet traffic passing through the building in two, sending one signal along uninterrupted and the other signal into the NSA’s secret room.

“This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style,” he said. “The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T’s customers but everybody’s.”

Similar secret rooms were set up in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, Calif. Klein said that AT&T also funneled phone-call data to the NSA.

The surveillance was carried out as part of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program, which has come under increasing fire as the depth of the surveillance has been uncovered.

Klein decided to come forward when he heard that the government was claiming that surveillance was only carried out on terrorism-related communications that involved someone outside the United States.

“I flipped out,” he said. “They’re copying the whole Internet. There’s no selection going on here. Maybe they select out later, but at the point of handoff to the government, they get everything.”

The technician urged Congress to reject a bill to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the wiretap program. Immunity would lead to the dismissal of 38 pending lawsuits.

“If they’ve done something massively illegal and unconstitutional — well, they should suffer the consequences,” Klein said.

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