Government "set up phone snooping" post before 9/11
Terrorism a handy excuse
By Nick Farrell: Monday 03 July 2006, 07:52WASHINGTON spooks were setting up a snooping department within AT&T seven months before the September 11, 2001 atrocities.According to court documents, the snooping centre was up and running before any war on terror was declared. This means that September 11 was a handy excuse when the unit, to spy on the calls of ordinary Americans without a court order, was discovered.The allegation is part of a court case against AT&T, the US's largest telephone company. It claims that the telco, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the US Constitution, and seeks money damages.One of the lawyers in the case said that the Bush Administration asserted the hi-tech snooping unit in AT&T became necessary after 9/11, however the evidence undermines that.A whistleblower from AT&T provided them with evidence that the NSA approached the carrier with the proposed plan. The worker's log book independently confirmed his participation in the project, so he seems to know what he is talking about.Meanwhile AT&T has been told by the US Department of Justice it may neither confirm nor deny the company's participation in the alleged NSA program because doing so would cause 'exceptionally grave harm to national security' and would violate both civil and criminal statutes.