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Ex-Qwest CEO Claims Spy Effort Began Before 9/11

Says NSA sought phone records months earlier
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2007 9:34 AM CDT
Ex-Qwest CEO Claims Spy Effort Began Before 9/11
In this artists rendition, Joe Nacchio the former head of Qwest Communications is shown in this courtroom drawing, holding a handkerchief used to wipe away tears, as he is sentenced to six years in prison by U.S. District Judge Edward Notingham on his insider trading conviction at the federal courthouse...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Joseph Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, claims that the National Security Agency asked his company in February, 2001, to participate in a potentially illegal surveillance program—and when he declined, punished the company by dropping a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, reports the Washington Post. The allegation puts NSA's move to get access to Americans' phone records without a warrant six months before 9/11.

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The allegation (with details redacted) is included in an appeal of Nacchio's insider-trading conviction last spring; he argues that the loss of the NSA contract contributed unexpectedly to the company's earnings collapse. But the implications reach beyond his case: the government has said it was the September 11 attacks that made access to phone records and warrantless wiretapping necessary. (Read more National Security Agency stories.)

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