Phone Technician Suspected Illegal NSA Wiretap

Miles Ehrlich is no fan of Big Brother. Just a few months after leaving government, the erstwhile chief of the San Francisco federal prosecutor’s white collar division – along with his partner, Ismail Ramsey – has surfaced as the lawyer for a San Francisco man who dropped what could be a big bomb in the ongoing government wiretapping scandal.

In a statement released Thursday, their client, former AT&T technician Mark Klein, says that he witnessed the setup of a room in the phone company’s San Francisco office building that appeared to give the government access to all AT&T telephone and Internet traffic – and not just the international calls that the government has admitted to eavesdropping on.

"Based on my understanding of the connections and equipment at issue, it appears the NSA is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet — whether that be peoples’ email, web surfing, or any other data," Klein said.

In 2003, the National Security Agency set up a secret room inside the phone company’s San Francisco office building that was not accessible to AT&T technicians, Klein said. There, a phone company worker hired by the NSA to handle the equipment set up equipment that apparently diverted communications to something called a Semantic Traffic Analyzer.

"The Narus STA technology is known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets," Klein said. “The company’s advertising boasts that its technology ‘captures comprehensive customer usage data … and transforms it into actionable information. … [It] provides complete visibility for all Internet applications.’"

Stein says he learned that similar rooms were installed in Seattle, San Jose, L.A. and San Diego.

"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 [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act]."

Klein’s statement is being incorporated into a class action filed in San Francisco federal court, in which lawyers with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, and Traber & Voorhees in Pasadena claim that AT&T illegally allowed the NSA taps.

The problem is that much evidence – including whatever Klein may have provided, as well as support for an injunction against the eavesdropping that plaintiffs are seeking – is submitted under seal per government request. Ehrlich said he and Ramsey are representing Klein – who is so far only a witness in the litigation – pro bono.

“Given the potential obstacles that might be thrown in his path, we thought it was courageous of him to come forward, and we’re happy to give him the best help that we can," Ehrlich said. He wouldn’t specify what those obstacles might be.

— Justin Scheck


4 Responses to “Phone Technician Suspected Illegal NSA Wiretap”

  1. Mr Angry Says:

    Those obstacles? Well, I don’t fancy this technician’s job prospects in the future. An I hope he’s never donated money to a charity that operates in any islamic countries because I have a feeling he’s going to come in for more than a little close scrutiny.

  2. Pauls musings and tidbits » Blog Archive » Legal Pad » Blog Archive » Phone Technician Suspected Illegal NSA Wiretap Says:

    […] Legal Pad » Blog Archive » Phone Technician Suspected Illegal NSA Wiretap […]

  3. AT&T cooperated with NSA surveillance - Homeland Security or Homeland Stupidity Says:

    […] This week, Mark Klein, a retired AT&T technician, submitted an affidavit in the case, stating that he was involved in the installation of the surveillance and data mining equipment that NSA used to implement the terrorist surveillance program that President George W. Bush authorized by secret executive order in October 2001. According to a statement (PDF) 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 international calls. . . . […]

  4. Hu Says:

    You would expect this type of society control behavior to be in China, where the Communist Party censors, filters, blocks and monitors Internet traffic…

    What will the US government do with all this ability to monitor all our communications? Build profile list to do what?

    Is our liberty being taken away for their security?

    Are you aware they exist technology to search pictures for text, and voice, not jsut text? Even Microsoft’s Office System 2007 does this in OneNote 2007!

    You can screen shot anything on your screen, if it has any text be in English, spanish, Germany and so forth, you can index and search this picture…

    Imagine having the supercomputer/s reviewing the content of your communications, websites, and phone telecommunications in real time…

    What is all this needed for, if we have moral citizens, working to make this a better place in the world?

    On the other hand, if you got a regime like the Communist Party in China, building up it’s military, threatening democracy, having already invaded Tibet, and working to overthrow Taiwan, which US companies support as well as the consumers whom buy cheap slave labor products, what do you think all this is going to be used for?

    Our Great Dear Leader who claims they know best for you?

    Let me point out, the record of the great dear leader’s history. It starts with the forced violence over the people, then starvation of millions during the “Great Leap Forward”, and and few million more deaths during the “Culture Revolution” which Mao turn society against itself (class struggle) to the present stage of economic corruption and development.

    Currently, China has approved the establishment of over 500,000 foreign-financed enterprises and has used 270 billion U.S. dollars of foreign funds. These foreign-funded enterprises import over 560 billion U.S. dollars of goods annually.

    To date, corporations from 190 countries and regions worldwide have invested in China, including 450 of the Fortune global top 500 multinational corporations. Foreign investors have established more than 700 research and development centers in China and over 40 multinational corporations have set up regional headquarters in the country.

    Anyone who wants to make money in China has to surrender to the political power of the Chinese Communist Party.

    “A slave state that uses the false promise of its booming economy to dupe the free world into appeasing its tyranny. As long as the capital from free countries continues to pour into China, China’s already oppressive practices will become more entrenched and the ensuing and ever-expanding militarism will make the likelihood of transition to a peaceful country ever more unlikely.

    China is rapidly building up the economic, military, technological and diplomatic power of its slave system. Under conditions that are tantamount to enslavement by the state, business from capitalist countries are enticed by cheap, obedient labor and cheap land and facilities owned by the state. If China insists on maintaining its one-party dictatorship, if it continues to exploit and suppress its people at home and expand its military threats against its democratic neighbors, then China will retain its current status and we will continue to witness the rise of a militarist hegemony.” – Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui

    “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free”

    Clearly, the all-pervading aim of the Chinese regime is not the conversion of the PRC into a pluralistic political system with a free market economy modeled after, and integrated with, Western institutions. Rather, its purpose is to perpetuate the Communist Party’s rule.

    All business issues are related to political issues, and in the end, every important political and social issue has relevance to business!

    Every government that has imposed totalitarian rules told its populace that it was doing so to “uphold freedom” or “improve the security of the homeland” or “root out terrorists and subversives.”  We uphold freedom by exercising it – not by restricting it.

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