Friday, June 23, 2006

NSA spying

Salon gives more questions than answers on NSA spying

In Salon yesterday, reporter Kim Zetter penned a story describing allegations by two unnamed sources that the federal government has set up a facility in a closed-off room inside an AT&T “network operations center” in St. Louis -- a site that plays a major role in managing all of AT&T's Internet operations. According to Zetter, the site is the “technical command center from which the company manages all the routers and circuits carrying the company's domestic and international Internet traffic. Therefore, [the site] could be instrumental for conducting surveillance or collecting data.”

We’ve heard a bit about this before. Back in January, Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, became a witness in a class-action lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T, charging the company with illegally taking part in a NSA domestic-surveillance program. Klein alleged the existence of government surveillance operations in AT&T offices in San Francisco an in Bridgeton, Missouri, near St. Louis, according to AT&T documents.

Zetter’s Salon story cites two sources who worked at the Bridgeton facility but who had never actually entered in the room in question, or even -- amazingly -- asked the people who worked in it what they were doing, even though the sources had been told by others at the company that “employees working inside the room were ‘monitoring network traffic’ and that the room was being used by ‘a government agency.’”

From there, Zetter -- who has won several awards for her investigative and feature reporting -- builds a case about what could be going on in the room, which leads to a story populated with more than its fair share of “could be’s” and “might’s,” with a frustrating lack of concrete evidence to confirm the suspicions of the employees, technology experts and former NSA hands she speaks to, all of whom say the operation smells like an NSA program.

Source: Paul McLeary, CJR Daily

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