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.)