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
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...   (Associated Press)
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(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.

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.)