The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.
The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.
"The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. "This undermines that assertion.''
Indeed - that is, if it's true. If it is, it makes me wonder how Bushites will spin this. I'm sure in their world this revelation will take on the trappings of impeccable Americanism - "Bush was strengthening our defenses even BEFORE 9/11!!!". Of course, monitoring telephone calls - and other law enforcement "tools" - do no good unless you listen to your own agents.
Try as well to exclude from your mind the fact that all this government expansion at the expense of freedom, privacy, and accountability was being pushed before 9/11 - by the Clinton Administration (see the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996". This isn't a partisan issue, obviously, but one of examining the core motivations and pressures on the hierarchical State. Indeed, there's more to be said on this topic concerning top-down governmental mangement of communications and other information in general. Expect a future post that examines the information technology industry, its conscience and ethos, and the growing technofascist market.