News Coverage of Mark Klein in Washington

November 11, 2007CNN Money

US Intelligence Official: People Must Redefine Privacy

By Pamela Hess

As Congress debates new rules for government eavesdropping, a top intelligence official says it is time that people in the U.S. changed their definition of privacy.

...

"Our job now is to engage in a productive debate, which focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety," Kerr said. "I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up, in terms of anonymity, but (also) what safeguards we want in place to be sure that giving that doesn't empty our bank account or do something equally bad elsewhere."

Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that defends online free speech, privacy and intellectual property rights, said Kerr's argument ignores both privacy laws and American history.

"Anonymity has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "The government has tremendous power: the police power, the ability to arrest, to detain, to take away rights. Tying together that someone has spoken out on an issue with their identity is a far more dangerous thing if it is the government that is trying to tie it together."

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November 7, 2007New York Times

Ex-Worker at AT&T Fights Immunity Bill

By JAMES RISEN and ERIC LICHTBLAU

When Mark Klein, then an AT&T technician in San Francisco, stumbled on a secret room apparently reserved for the National Security Agency inside an AT&T switching center, he hardly expected to be caught up in a national debate over the proper balance between American civil liberties and national security.

But four years later, Mr. Klein's discovery has led to a spate of class-action lawsuits against the nation's largest telephone companies. The threat posed to the telecommunications industry by those suits has prompted the Bush administration to push Congress to grant companies legal immunity for their secret cooperation in the N.S.A.'s program of eavesdropping without warrants. With many Democrats in Congress seemingly willing to grant the legal protection, Mr. Klein has come to Washington to fight back.

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November 7, 2007New York Times

Wiretapping and the Telecoms

To the Editor:
Op-Ed Contributor: Uncle Sam on the Line (November 5, 2007)
Re "Uncle Sam on the Line" (Op-Ed, Nov. 5): Former Attorney General John Ashcroft leaves out a crucial point when he argues that telecommunications companies that allegedly cooperated with the administration's warrantless wiretapping program should be shielded from lawsuits.

Telecom companies that cooperate with a government wiretap request are already immune from lawsuits, as long as they get a court order or a certification from the attorney general that the wiretap follows all applicable statutes.

This immunity provision in current law protects companies that respond to legitimate government requests for assistance. It also protects innocent Americans who expect that their communications will remain private unless the government and the companies are acting lawfully.

If companies that allegedly cooperated with the warrantless wiretapping program didn't follow the law during the five years that the program was in existence, they should be held accountable. And courts should be allowed to rule on the legality of this program.

If we want companies and the government to follow the law in the future, retroactive immunity sets a terrible precedent.

Russ Feingold
U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
Washington, Nov. 6, 2007

[Link]

November 7, 2007Washington Post

A Story of Surveillance: Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program

By Ellen Nakashima

His first inkling that something was amiss came in summer 2002 when he opened the door to admit a visitor from the National Security Agency to an office of AT&T in San Francisco.

"What the heck is the NSA doing here?" Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, said he asked himself.

A year or so later, he stumbled upon documents that, he said, nearly caused him to fall out of his chair. The documents, he said, show that the NSA gained access to massive amounts of e-mail and search and other Internet records of more than a dozen global and regional telecommunications providers. AT&T allowed the agency to hook into its network at a facility in San Francisco and, according to Klein, many of the other telecom companies probably knew nothing about it.

Klein is in Washington this week to share his story in the hope that it will persuade lawmakers not to grant legal immunity to telecommunications firms that helped the government in its anti-terrorism efforts.

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November 12, 2007Newsweek

An Ex-A.G. Avoids Caller ID

By Michael Isikoff

The nation's telecommunications companies want immunity from lawsuits related to their participation in President Bush's warrantless-surveillance program, and to get it, they've been mounting an aggressive Capitol Hill lobbying campaign. Last week they played what they hoped would be their trump card: a letter backing their position from ex-attorney-general John Ashcroft and three other former top Justice officials. The quartet seemed to have special credibility on the issue: they had all once threatened to resign because of concerns about the top-secret spying program's legality. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch called the letter "very interesting," adding that the telecoms deserved protection from costly lawsuits for their service to the intelligence community.

But the correspondence left out some pertinent details. Ashcroft's consulting firm, the Ashcroft Group, registered last year to lobby for AT&T-one of the three big telecoms, along with Verizon and Sprint, spear-heading the lobbying campaign. Patrick Philbin, who joined James Comey and Jack Goldsmith as cosigners on the letter, was a principal outside lawyer for Verizon prior to joining the Justice Department in 2001; he's now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, whose Web site lists Verizon as one of its main clients. "I find this very troubling," says Cindy Cohen, chief counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has sued AT&T in San Francisco. "They ought to be writing letters to Congress about what the administration was doing wrong rather than trying to cover it up."

A spokeswoman for Ashcroft, Juleanna Glover, says the former A.G. has done "no work" personally lobbying for AT&T on the telecom immunity issue. His firm, she says, was hired as a "strategic consultant" on other matters, principally related to state regulatory disputes. Glover said that Ashcroft wrote the letter in his capacity as the former A.G. and because he believes it outlines a "principled position" for Congress. Philbin did not respond to requests for comment. But an associate of his, who asked not to be identified because of political sensitivities, says that Philbin disclosed his legal work for Verizon in a brief bio he presented to the Judiciary Committee prior to his testimony about the issue. In any case, says the associate, "there aren't a lot of lawyers in this town who don't do some kind of work for the telecoms."

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November 6, 2007Cox Newspapers

AT&T whistleblower: say no to telecom immunity

By Rebecca Carr

A telecommunications technician who says he witnessed the telecom giant AT&T secretly help the government with its eavesdropping program plans to tell all at a news conference tomorrow on Capitol Hill.

Mark Klein wants the Senate Judiciary committee to reject legislation that offers telecommuncations companies legal protection for participating in President Bush's surveillance program without a court warrant. The Senate Intelligence Committee recently cleared such legislation. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will evaluate the measure.

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November 7, 2007The Nation

Dial "Dem" For Immunity?

By Matthew Blake

Two weeks ago, it appeared the Senate would essentially offer no resistance. The Senate Intelligence Committee passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2007, 13-2, which included immunity. Intelligence Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, who has received a combined $42,000 from AT&T and Verizon this year, penned a Washington Post editorial arguing that the heat should stay solely on the Bush Administration. "[If] the government were to require [telecoms] to face a mountain of lawsuits, we risk losing their support in the future," Rockefeller wrote.

But the matter became a cause celebre by Net Roots activists like MoveOn.org who pressured Democratic Presidential candidates to filibuster a FISA bill with immunity. Chris Dodd positively responded to the charge and soon the other Democratic Senators running for President-Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama- followed his lead.

Then, at a Judiciary Committee hearing last week both Leahy and Specter expressed their skepticism about granting immunity without knowing the extent of the companies complicity. And this week Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, has come to Capitol Hill telling lawmakers that AT&T worked with NSA to compile a database of e-mail and phone calls of ordinary Americans.

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November 7, 2007NPR: All Things Considered

AT&T Wiretap Whistleblower Fights Senate Deal

In 2002, Mark Klein, a former technician for AT&T, came forward with information that the company was collecting data for the National Security Agency. His testimony was central to several class-action lawsuits against AT&T for its alleged wiretapping.

Klein is now in Washington, D.C., to speak out against a possible Senate deal that would grant immunity to AT&T and the other telecoms for their role in NSA surveillance - effectively nullifying those lawsuits.

Robert Siegel talks with Klein.

[Link]

November 7, 2007Congressional Quarterly Today

Judiciary Postpones Decision on Telecom Immunity in Considering FISA Bill

By Keith Perine

A debate has been raging for nearly two years, since the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been conducting warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens as a counterterrorism measure. Critics say the surveillance violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA, PL 95-511), which created a special federal court to oversee electronic surveillance for intelligence gathering. Bush has maintained that his authority as commander in chief in a time of war trumps the requirements of the law.

On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group that is suing AT&T in San Francisco for allegedly cooperating with the warrantless surveillance, held a press conference in Washington with a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, who has filed a declaration in the case, Hepting v. AT&T.

Klein, who retired in 2004, has offered evidence that the NSA has been intercepting the communications of millions of Americans over AT&T's network, including domestic telephone calls and e-mails, since 2002. Klein said all traffic that passed through an AT&T facility in San Francisco was automatically routed to a secure room overseen by the NSA. He said there were likely at least 15 to 20 such rooms in other cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Atlanta.

"This is not a wiretap, this is a country-tap," said Dr. Brian Reid, a technical expert working with the foundation.

Nov. 7, 2007Houston Chronicle

Plea made against shielding AT&T

A former AT&T technician urged U.S. lawmakers not to shield the company from lawsuits alleging that it violated customers' privacy by giving their telephone and e-mail records to intelligence officials.

The litigation is "probably the last, best chance for the country to find out the details of what the government is doing to people," Mark Klein said at a news conference in Washington.

[Link]

November 9, 2007Grand Rapid Press

Ex-tech takes on telecom industry and NSA with eavesdropping tale

Feds say phone companies helped national security; privacy group claims constitutional violations

When Mark Klein, then an AT&T technician in San Francisco, stumbled on a secret room apparently reserved for the National Security Agency inside an AT&T switching center, he hardly expected to be caught up in a national debate over the proper balance between civil liberties and national security.

But four years later, Klein's discovery has led to a spate of class-action lawsuits against the nation's largest telephone companies. The threat posed to the telecommunications industry by those suits has prompted the Bush administration to push Congress to grant companies legal immunity for their secret cooperation in the NSA's program of eavesdropping without warrants. With many Democrats in Congress seemingly willing to grant the legal protection, Klein has come to Washington to fight back.

November 7, 2007National Journal's Technology Daily EX-AT&T EMPLOYEE BLOWS WHISTLE ON SPYING EFFORTS

The telecommunications firm AT&T let the National Security Agency tap into its internal network at a San Francisco facility in order to collect data as part of an anti-terrorism surveillance program, according to a former AT&T employee. The Washington Post reports that former AT&T technician Mark Klein is one of the few people in the country with firsthand knowledge of how companies have participated in the Bush administration's spying initiative who has been willing to speak freely about it.

November 7, 2007Wired Blogs

AT&T Whistle-Blower Hits D.C. To Stop Telecom Spying Immunity

By Ryan Singel

Former AT&T technician and wiretapping whistle-blower Mark Klein traveled to the nation's marble halls of power Wednesday, hoping to persuade lawmakers not to crush the lawsuit against AT&T that is largely based on his allegations that his former employer wiretapped the internet on behalf of the government.

The Senate Judiciary plans Thursday to mark-up a measure passed by the secretive Senate Intelligence Committee would let telecoms like AT&T and Verizon escape the bevy of lawsuits accusing them of massively violating Americans' privacy, so long as the attorney general writes a letter to the judge saying that the government told the companies that the president thought he had Constitutional authority to evade the nation's privacy laws.

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November 7, 2007TPM Muckraker

Today's Must Read

By Spencer Ackerman

Cliche as it may be to say: Mr. Klein goes to Washington.

Tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will get its hands on the surveillance bill passed by the intelligence committee last month. The bill blesses warrantless surveillance of foreign-domestic communications related to gathering foreign intelligence, but its most infamous provision is the legal immunity it seeks to grant telecommunications companies that complied with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program from 2001 until this January. Civil libertarians are enraged at the provision, which will invalidate a number of class-action lawsuits against the telecoms currently pending. Now they have a new lobbying ally: Mark Klein.

Klein is the retired AT&T technician who disclosed in late 2005 how his former employer had allowed the NSA to use Room 641A of 611 Folsom Street in San Francisco as a vacuum cleaner to capture untold millions of phone and e-mail communications. (You can read his first-hand account here, in a pdf.) His revelations formed the basis for a lawsuit, Hepting v. AT&T, currently before a federal court. Now he's trying to convince Senators not to preempt the case, reports The Washington Post.

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November 7, 2007The Raw Story

AT&T whistleblower: I was forced to connect 'big brother machine'

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne

A former technician at AT&T, who alleges that the telecom forwards virtually all of its internet traffic into a "secret room" to facilitate government spying, says the whole operation reminds him of something out of Orwell's 1984.

Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown program, whistleblower Mark Klein told Keith Olbermann that a copy of all internet traffic passing over AT&T lines was copied into a locked room at the company's San Francisco office -- to which only employees with National Security Agency clearance had access -- via a cable splitting device.

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November 8, 2007Democracy Now

AT&T Whistleblower Urges Congress Not To Give Telecoms Immunity

Former AT&T technician Mark Klein traveled to Washington Wednesday to urge lawmakers not to give AT&T, Verizon and other telecom companies immunity from lawsuits over their role in the government's domestic spying operations. Last year Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed AT&T had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.

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November 8th, 2007The Carpetbagger Report

On eve of telecom vote, AT&T whistleblower steps up

After several weeks of wrangling, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider a revised FISA bill today, including the much-discussed provision that provides retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that illegally cooperated with the NSA on warrantless domestic searches.

Perhaps the most notable player in the debate has turned out to be a retired AT&T technician most of us have never heard of: Mark Klein. It was Klein who came forward in 2005 with first-hand evidence that AT&T had allowed the NSA to use its San Francisco facilities to capture millions of phone and email communications without a warrant. As of this week, Klein's perspective is front and center.

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November 7, 2007E-Commerce Times

AT&T Tech Paints Stark Picture of NSA Telecom Spying

By Chris Maxcer

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T in January 2006, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in its massive program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications, actions which the EFF said are illegal. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government's and AT&T's motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On Aug. 15, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The EFF lawsuit arose from news reports in December 2005, which first revealed that the NSA had been intercepting Americans' phone calls and Internet communications without any court oversight, which the EFF said violates privacy safeguards established by Congress and the U.S. Constitution. This surveillance program, purportedly authorized by President Bush as early as 2001, intercepts and analyzes phone and Internet communications of millions of ordinary Americans. EFF has complied and published supporting documents, reports and court materials on its AT&T Class Action area on its Web site.

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November 10, 2007Daily Tech

NSA Monitors All Web Traffic, Says Ex-AT&T Employee

Mark Klein, the former AT&T technician and whistleblower who helped kick off the AT&T/NSA eavesdropping scandal, clarified further details regarding what he witnessed while connecting a secret NSA eavesdropping facility: secure room 641A in AT&T's San Francisco switching center, presumably commissioned by the NSA, received copies of all the traffic its splitters were connected to, including both international and domestic e-mails, web traffic, and phone calls, both from AT&T's customers as well as other providers.

Previous statements by the government, AT&T and President Bush indicated that the only affected communications are communications relevant to national security, like those of suspected terrorists and suspicious foreign nationals. According to Klein, however, the technology used to connect the secure room was far more democratic, consisting of simple, dumb splitters incapable of any kind of contextual filtering: essentially, room 641A received "a duplicate of every fiber-optic signal routed through [AT&T's] facilities."

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November 7, 2007Broadband Reports

Mr. Klein Goes To Washington: Whistleblower tells Congress not to deliver spying telco legal immunity

Mark Klein, a 62-year-old retired AT&T technician, spent 22 years with the company and exposed their participation (pdf) in the government's warrantless wiretap program. Klein today took an important trip to Washington DC.

His goal? To try and convince Congress that AT&T should not be given legal immunity for handing over your voice and data to Uncle Sam without a court order. AT&T and Verizon are currently facing 37 different lawsuits for their involvement. Klein makes it clear his goal is Justice, not "bringing down" the company or lower level AT&T employees:

[Link]

November 6, 2007

Senate Judiciary Committee Skeptical of Telecom Immunity

As the Senate considers legislation to address the president's surveillance powers, the Senate Judiciary Committee registered concern regarding the recent compromise brokered in the Senate Intelligence Committee to grant the telecommunications industry immunity for alleged illegal assistance with the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), respectively, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that immunity did not appear to be necessary, and that those alleging harm should have their day in court.

As reported in the previous edition of the Watcher, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2007 (S. 2248) by a vote of 13-2. The bill included provisions that would provide immunity for any telecommunications company that, in response to a request authorized by the president, assisted in counterterrorism operations between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 17, 2007, or if the attorney general certifies the company was not involved in the activities addressed by a particular lawsuit.

To date, approximately 40 lawsuits have been filed involving telecommunications companies allegedly assisting the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program. All of these suits would likely be thrown out if the Senate bill becomes law.

Upset with the blind agreement to grant blanket immunity, OMB Watch and the civil liberties community called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold public hearings on the issue before moving forward in considering the legislation. In heeding such advice, the committee held a hearing receiving testimony from, among others, Kenneth Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice.

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November 8, 2007The Inquirer

AT&T wiretap whistleblower fights Senate deal: Nosy Feds are reading your emails

In 2002, Mark Klein, a former technician for AT&T, came forward with information that the company was collecting data for the National Security Agency. His testimony was central to several class-action lawsuits against AT&T for its alleged wiretapping.

Klein says there are 15 to 20 rooms with dozens of people taking data directly from a splitter on the fibre. He says the White house has portrayed this as a narrow problem. When actually EVERYTHING on the Internet is being looked at by NSA.

Klein is now in Washington, D.C., to speak out against a possible Senate deal that would grant immunity to AT&T and the other telecoms for their role in NSA surveillance - effectively nullifying those lawsuits.

[Link]

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