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[infowar.de] NSA Spy Room bei AT&T
Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room
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By Ryan Singel| Also by this reporter
11:15 AM Apr, 07, 2006
AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to
its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to
data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco
switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the
Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an
affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action
lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges
that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the
government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers
On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting
AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of
documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly
explain how the wiretapping system works.
According to a statement released by Klein's attorney, an NSA agent showed
up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a
management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein
observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T's #4ESS
switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and
"I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was
the person working to install equipment in this room," Klein wrote. "The
regular technician work force was not allowed in the room."
Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a
splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that
work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being
installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and
"While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret
room were tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T's internet service) circuits by
splitting off a portion of the light signal," Klein wrote.
The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other
internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic
routed from its network to or from other domestic and international
providers, according to Klein's statement.
The secret room also included data-mining equipment called a Narus STA
6400, "known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies
because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for
preprogrammed targets," according to Klein's statement.
Narus, whose website touts AT&T as a client, sells software to help
internet service providers and telecoms monitor and manage their networks,
look for intrusions, and wiretap phone calls as mandated by federal law.
Klein said he came forward because he does not believe that the Bush
administration is being truthful about the extent of its extrajudicial
monitoring of Americans' communications.
"Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of
this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's
spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise
consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA," Klein's wrote. "And
unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls,
this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of
internet communications of countless citizens."
After asking for a preview copy of the documents last week, the government
did not object to the EFF filing the paper under seal, although the EFF
asked the court Wednesday to make the documents public.
One of the documents is titled "Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San
Francisco," and is dated 2002. The others are allegedly a design document
instructing technicians how to wire up the taps, and a document that
describes the equipment installed in the secret room.
In a letter to the EFF, AT&T objected to the filing of the documents in
any manner, saying that they contain sensitive trade secrets and could be
"could be used to 'hack' into the AT&T network, compromising its integrity."
According to court rules, AT&T has until Thursday to file a motion to keep
the documents sealed. The government could also step in to the case and
request that the documents not be made public, or even that the entire
lawsuit be barred under the seldom-used State Secrets Privilege.
AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp declined to comment on the allegations, citing a
company policy of not commenting on litigation or matters of national
security, but did say that "AT&T follows all laws following requests for
assistance from government authorities."
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