Whistleblower Explains How The NSA Tapped Ma Bell (And All Of Us)

from the all-in-the-secret-room dept

Back in January, the story came out that the EFF was suing AT&T, claiming that the company gave illegal access to the NSA of its network. Of course, plenty of people already believed that the NSA had pretty good access to the internet from a variety of places — so the interesting thing here was both the specifics of how they did so, and the question of whether or not AT&T was violating customer rights in giving this free access. Earlier this week, the Justice Department tried to block evidence from being filed in the case — even under seal. However, it seems like some of that information is coming out anyway, in large part thanks to a whistleblower who is explaining exactly how AT&T opened up its systems for the NSA to have pretty much unfettered access to the type of stuff you’re normally supposed to get warrants to view — and then in a much more limited manner. It’s interesting to note, by the way, that the data mining technology that AT&T hooked up for the NSA came from Narus, the very same company that just sold VoIP blocking technology to the Chinese. Either way, this lawsuit is shaping up to be quite interesting, and it’s likely that a lot more of this kind of information will be coming out over the course of the case — even as the government tries to keep it quiet.

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Comments on “Whistleblower Explains How The NSA Tapped Ma Bell (And All Of Us)”

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J says:


Anonymous Coward says:


Everyone who works for the government takes an oath to uphold the constitution. Then constitution is the contract betweent the American people and their government. It specifies what they are supposed to provide, and what we are willing to give up. When the government chose to begin domestic wiretapping, they violated the constituion. Making the situation public is their only choice; they brought the problem to those who are affected.

I am actually sad that more government employees don’t choose to reveal the governments illegal actions when they occur.

SadisticFreek says:

Re: Re:

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” You’re blind ignorance is sickening. Giving that much trust into a government is sickening. The freedoms of every American are being taken away. And by who? Not by those terrorists, or Iraqi people that our government are fighting, but by the very government that promised our freedoms would remain intact and uncompromised after the terrorist attacks. “Protest is patriotism.” These are words to live by. “It is to secure our rights that we resort to government at all.” – Thomas Jefferson.

And one more quote: “There is no external threat to your freedoms. Freedom is almost never taken away, but it has often been given away.”

And those “Whistle Blowers” are the people that are making sure the freedoms which you are taking for granted (the same freedoms which are the basic foundation of this country) are not taken away without the people knowing about it. Laws were put in place to prevent the government from abusing their power. Now the government officials are abusing their powers by circumventing these laws which have proven to be extremely flexible. There was no reason for circumventing the laws, and that leaves the very likely possibility that our government intends on using the information for personal gain.

And finally, my last statement: Why don’t you go live in China since you love life without your basic freedoms.

Richard Walter Davis (user link) says:

Re: J's post

You, my sad goose stepper, would have felt right at home in Germany circa 1939.

No government, especially ours, has inalienable rights to invade our privacy. Overstepping the bounds of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is impeachable; in the least measure.

Individual rights, my uninformed friend, are the only ones that matter. When they are broken in the name of national security, and it is permitted by the citizenry, and supported by the press, it is yet another giant step for mankind down the long walk to the end of all freedom. The connotative, elastic definitions of PC newspeak have produce a living horror. Our Constitution was written to guarantee our rights and to limit the government’s. That you, and so many like you, don’t know or understand it ensures that we soon will not have to fear invasion by any foreign power. Our leaders invite it with their every non-action.

“The final battle will be fought by the communists, and the ex-communists.”

I can imagine you asking, “What would happen without big government to take care of us?” Let me answer this way. If you search deeply inside yourself and find a goal that would bring you happiness, my way ensure your right to pursue it under your own steam, and by your own efforts, as long as it does not promote or involve physical coercion on another, and you would not need anyone else’s approval, permission, or license… oh yes, they wouldn’t impose a tax on it either.

Your way or mine. Choose.

P.S. I agree that our intelligence agencies need to be able to engage in all kinds of black opps. The have my full support, as long as they do it to other nations, and not to our citizens without due process of law; especially within the borders of the United States of America.

Have a nice day, while you still can buddy.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Whistleblower


It’s not polite to shout(if you don’t already know, using CAPS for everything is considered shouting on the net), especially since apparently you have no clue what you are shouting about. Then again, if you are a NSA spook, maybe you do….

Either way, I’ll protect you J, we’ll just route all of your internet traffic to my net, especially your financial info since we’ll have to make sure you aren’t a terrorist yourself and once we have determined you aren’t a security risk, we’ll begin the labotomy^H^H^H^H^H^H^H re-education. After that you can safely live your life in a 4’x6′ room. I know it’s cramped but all that counts is that you as an American citizen are SAFE, RIGHT!?!?! You do have to trust us J, we have our, err, your best interests in mind… I mean I told you I would protect you and wouldn’t lie to you so what’s stopping you?

John Fante says:

Re: Re:

You are a raving psychotic– you are what is wrong with this country. Is it treason to insist that the government plays by the rules that this country was founded on? Those rules are the very reason that we call this the, rightly or not, the greatest country on earth. If we allow this type of activity we are no longer anything remotely resembling a democracy. So, then, who is the true traitor– the people working to wright a wrong, or you, the one willing to give up all semblance of ‘freedom’ in the name of ‘security’??

Anonymous Coward says:

To J:

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

“Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither”

“He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security”

“He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither”

“If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.”

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Jenice says:


Can’t say that I agree with you Jon. The issue being brought to light is not that our elected representatives are doing their jobs or not, but that they’re doing it illegally. They’re violating our rights to get their jobs done. What’s the purpose of having those rights if you think we should just throw them off any time is suits the higher ups?

As to the whistle blowers, the only thing that surprises me is that someone actually came forward. Rumors of this supposed access has been floating around for years. I’m curious as to why they came forward after all this time, or if this was new informatin for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s a sad day when someone actually attacks the whistleblowers. Government historically has failed to uphold its duties, prefering instead fo abuse the position to further themselves and those near to them. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. As previously stated, the Constitution is the agreement between the people and those whom we grant authority; government only has power as long as its citizens consent. When a branch decides to act outside of their Constitutionally-granted boundary, it is the responsibility of the true Americans to come forward and help preserve the system by making note of those responsible.

malhombre says:

Re: Re:

And might I add that those who question authority, and who, with good reason, oppose corrupt and over-reaching government, are the real patriots in the truest American sense of patriotism…

What if our founding fathers felt that “our government (i.e. King), right or wrong” was the noble attitude? NO AMERICA. NO CONSTITUTION. NO FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SPEECH, ASSY, etc., etc.

Thank God for those who have the courage to stand up to authoritarianism, ESPECIALLY when it is hardest and most dangerous: when it is perpetrated by YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT!!!

J says:

I see my little rant caused all kinds of reactions…but my point is this…first of all, I think we all have the same thought in mind, that being that the governement is there for the people, not the other way around. I stated in my origional posting that it really does not matter to me if the governement is right or wrong in this case. A person with access to sensitive governement information has leaked that information to the world. What if all governement employees did the same? What would become of our rights? Whistle blowing is a good thing…just that they need to use the proper channels. One thing our government has many of are PROCEDURES. I am sure that there are procedures to report law breaking by the many arms of our government. There are also checks and balances in place. This person (or these people), have alerted the WORLD, including AL QAIDA, and all of our enemies, to what they believe are our secrets. My only contention in this whole mess is that the person who did not follow procedure has given our enemies an upper hand, and NOBODY is talking about that. The different congressional oversight committees have redundant politicial, ethical, and legal checks and balances. THEY have all the facts, many of which I am sure we will never hear. Assume for once that CNN and FOX dont have all the facts, but the hard working career government employees and elected officials do. Politics needs to be out of this fight, and what is right and wrong needs to be in it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: J's second post

And just what do you think the “proper channels” are when you’re talking about the ***National Security Agency***?!!?!?!?!?!

Who do you tell? The head of the NSA who is in on it already? The President who supports their actions and wishes they did more? Congress, the people who voted this Patriot Act crap into “law” in the first place? Oh, I know, you tell tech support at AT&freakin’-T cause they’ll tell you that they’ll get something done about that, right? When you deal with agencies that have incredible amounts of “hush power” over the entire government and the government’s subjects(we’re subjects to a “king” at this point especially the way you’re looking at it so just bow to W and be done with it), you have no chance of getting anything done about it if you tell them because of that hush power AND because once they know that you know, if the news breaks you get blamed regardless.

Ever heard of Watergate? “Deep Throat” was in the same situation overall and thankfully brought down Nixon’s regime pretty quickly. Let’s hope this is along the same lines.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: J's second post

Forgive me if this ends up being a repost..forgot to enter my username.

And just what do you think the “proper channels” are when you’re talking about the ***National Security Agency***?!!?!?!?!?!

Who do you tell? The head of the NSA who is in on it already? The President who supports their actions and wishes they did more? Congress, the people who voted this Patriot Act crap into “law” in the first place? Oh, I know, you tell tech support at AT&freakin’-T cause they’ll tell you that they’ll get something done about that, right? When you deal with agencies that have incredible amounts of “hush power” over the entire government and the government’s subjects(we’re subjects to a “king” at this point especially the way you’re looking at it so just bow to W and be done with it), you have no chance of getting anything done about it if you tell them because of that hush power AND because once they know that you know, if the news breaks you get blamed regardless.

Ever heard of Watergate? “Deep Throat” was in the same situation overall and thankfully brought down Nixon’s regime pretty quickly. Let’s hope this is along the same lines.

WeeBit says:

Our Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which required that agencies receive warrants from a special court staffed by judges with top secret clearance before spying on U.S. soil. Which means a warrant has to be issued before they can act on any person on US soil. This has been a standard for many years. It was passed in the 1970’s to stop abuse by the higher Government offices. In other words abuse was rampid and then Congress went in and stepped on a few toes to protect our Constitutional Rights.

We are now back to square one. Bush says that the laws passed in the past do not reflect on today’s circumstances. They are out dated. But Bush has only been looking at one way to curb crime and Terrorism. And that way is to take our freedom away, and smash our Constitutional Rights.

I agree that certain things have no business in the press. But I also disagree too. If it wasn’t for the whistleblowers All that power that our Congress, and President has would go to their heads, and they would run all over us, because power is great, it’s a head rush and in the past they proved that it could get out of hand, plus they could run over us. They abused their power in the past, it can happen again, and seems to be happening again.

SadisticFreek (user link) says:

Re: to WeeBit

Indeed FISA does require a warrant, but initially it was required only 24 hours AFTER the surveillance began. After the Patriot Act was passed, that 24 hour deadline moved to 72 hours after the surveillance began. There have been many more changes since the 9/11 attacks, and that is why Bush has no ground on saying these laws are not flexible enough.

Also, if anybody still thinks FISA just gets in the government’s way of tracking down terrorists, look at the numbers of warrants denied by the FISA court. As I recall, out of thousands upon thousands of warrants recieved, FISA court only denied 4 throughout the history of the law.

WeeBit says:

RE: SadisticFreek

Yes I forgot to add about the 72 hour warrant grace period they have. This is why in all the time I heard Bush say the reasons to why they need to act fast, it just never settled well with me. I mean they can have one team doing what ever they need to do, and the other getting the paper work ready for the Judge within that 72 hours, and presenting it. So where does the slow down exist at? I don’t see it. FISA denied four? So just what is behind Bush’s reasoning then? He doesn’t have a reason. His head is getting too big?

SadisticFreek (user link) says:

Re: RE: SadisticFreek

Exactly. Bush has no reasoning behind his actions for circumventing FISA, and that could very well imply that he was using the surveillance for personal gain much in the same way Nixon was. As for J’s comment about there being a process for disclosing the information, there is also a process that the government must follow to start electronic surveillance on its very own citizens, but it failed to do that, so these “Whistle Blowers” should have every right to inform the citizens that their freedoms and rights are being compromised because a President believes he should have his powers “unimpaired.”

I mean, the people have the right to know when their civil liberties are being infringed upon, and the sooner the better.

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.” – Thomas Jefferson

Michael "TheZorch" Haney (profile) says:

Warning Signs

These are all warning signs that something very rotten is going on within our government. Ever since 9/11 and the creation of Homeland Security I’ve seen things start to go downhill fast.

I’m waiting for the day when they call for a volunteer whistleblower service made up of ordinary citizens who will watch and listen for any possibly disloyal or un-American comments others people. It is coming and anyone who says otherwise is living in a fantasy world. Our Democracy is dying from the inside and the sad thing is nobody but a few people (myself included) realizes its happening.

So, you all have a choice, stand up and put a stop to it now or wait until its too late and risk torture and death when the inneviable 2nd American Civil War breaks out.

I’m calling for a “Revolution of Words and Votes”, fight back with words and in the voting booths of America. Elect the current Congresss out-of-office and demand the immediate IMPEACHMENT of President George W. Bush, make demands of your Senators and Representatives to do what is right for YOU and to ignore the lobbyist minority who want the laws changed so they have things their way.

This country is BY THE PEOPLE, OF THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE and we need to make them remember what that really means.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some of you need to read what whistle blowers are and the act that covers it. This person is not a whistle blower. I have to laugh, because most of you have missed information here or there and/or are ingoring parts completely (like what a whislte blower is). Whatever the case, for you to assume you know what Bush’s reasoning was, or for you to assume you have all or most the facts and can make the jugdements you are making is ludicrous. Your talking about a topic layered in secrecy and then making bold statements about what little has been illegally leaked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow Concerned, you missed it. BY DEFINITION HE/SHE IS NOT A WHISTLE BLOWER. I can’t make that point any more obvious, so its up to you to pick up on it this time thru, if you miss it again I really can’t help you and I won’t argue with you if you splice definitions and apply labels that aren’t appropriate.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re:

An anonymous and CLUELESS COWARD wrote:


Here’s the definition, clueless…

Whistleblower: an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it.

Now stop trying to act like you’re on-up on us, your gnit-picking isn’t gonna work here.

Unkle Nuke says:

I've been there

I don’t usually bother putting my two cents in anymore, but perhaps this “old-school” can inspire a spark that becomes a fire in Liberty’s torch once again.

You see….my father lived through the dark years following World War II, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Committee On Unamerican Activities was engaged in a witch-hunt to purge every communist from this land of ours. Many honest folk were harassed, imprisoned, and had their lives ruined. Then into the 1960’s it began to be known just how extensive and broad the FBI’s survelliance of Americans was in the name of “national security” while J. Edgar Hoover was the Director. And then Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson invented the euphemism of “credibility gap” when his administration got caught in numerous lies used to gain citizens’ support for U.S. policy that escalated the Vietnam war. I have lived to see Nixon’s resignation following Watergate, followed by the Iran-Contra scandal under Pres. Reagan. Next, the first Bush convinced America it was a noble cause to liberate Kuwait from Hussein in a war that many still believe to this day was more about U.S. oil interests. And then Bill Clinton’s adminstration was discovered to have strong ties with the communist Chinese through North Vietnam and evidence suggests China was given business and policy favors in return for campaign funds donated through dummy corporations here on our soil. Now we have the new Bush administration, who have very obviously been caught in countless lies to justify not only the occupation of Iraq, but to pass laws and make policies that have made a mockery of what our forefathers gave birth to in this great land and generations have paid for dearly in blood to preserve. It is a fact of history that all goverments become despotic over time. Thomas Jefferson said that and it was he that made sure our Constitution has a clause in it that makes it permissible and legal for the citizens to rise up in revolution to ensure their freedom if need be and start over fresh. So why is it that these politicians have abused their power and grow more outrageous with those abuses and lies with every year that passes? Why has the current President used fear to sell his own grab for money and power? The answer is quite simple…We The People have sat back on our apathetic collective ass and allowed it. Sure…we’ll complain and argue about it amongst ourselves….even write comments like this online and in blogs. But not a damn one of us will actually DO anything about it! If you want to impeach those responsible, you have to organize and then hit the streets to rally support and gather signatures on petitions. Once you have enough to mandate a national vote by the citizenry for impeachment, Congress is bound by law to follow through with it. We need to stop electing these spoiled children of rich corporate fat cats and ex-politicians, these over-educated, over-priced lawyers. We need to elect statesman once again, those great men that led the country not for profit, but for ideals. Too many Special Interest Groups and Coporate Lobbys have bought and paid for our goverment. We should abolish them as well. If you want your freedom, you have to work for it, not spout historical quotes you have no real appreciation for. Many have sacrificed everything they have, their fortunes, even their lives for the sake of liberty. “Freedom is a right that is earned in blood.”. Go look that one up. Unfortunately, nobody wants to be bothered with any of it and so we have surrendered ourselves completely to the wills and whims of wealthy men who have no regard for anyone but themselves. We have entrusted our country to fools and put our very lives in their hands. Thus we have made fools of ourselves.

illegall gun pwn3r3r says:

Re: I've been there

i am preparing and waiting for a revolutoion in my generation. i served this country for 16yrs in the military, not as a pencil pusher or college student but as infantry for most of that time. i, to this day cannot own a gun leagally in this country because of behaviour i did while a minor. it was nothing like robbery or anything harming another person.

i have my collection, high cap mags, waiting to stand and fight!

the governtment has gotten too big and pompass and the presedecny has turned into a monarchy once again…

btw uncle nuke, saved ur post, awesome!

Anonymous of Course says:

Re: I've been there

If you would keep a secret, tell no one.

There are structural defects in the government that were foreseen by the founding fathers but corruption

and the loathing of politicians to touch a hot issue have

broken the safe guards. For example, there is a strict

separation between the branches of government. No

lawyer should ever hold a legislative position. Check the

constitution on that if you doubt me. You can’t take an

oath to two masters and serve both without impairment

Your inalienable right to protection from unreasonable

search and seizure is creator endowed. Which is why

it’s inalienable. If your rights are at the whim of the

state (or the U.N.) they may be given or taken away

as the they see fit. It’s a pretty good firewall, use it.

Even if you’re an atheist! By the way… define


Joe McCarthy had many faults. But he was not totally

wrong. The case of Elia Kazan is a telling one. I think

he misidentified the threat. Capitalism and Communism,

for the most part, are played against one another by

the ruling oligarchies. I guess you can call them the

globalists… I’m not sure.

I lived through the cold war but the greatest shock was

discovering that everything I was taught in school about

how the government operates is B.S..

Frankly, I don’t care if the NSA listens in on international

conversations terminating in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

This seems reasonable to me given their mission. I know

my mail to Czechoslovakia in the 60’s was opened, it

was expected. Abe Lincoln said it best, the constitution

is not a suicide pact.

Enough already… people’s minds are made up, they

believe what they want to believe. Much of the furor

is generated by a knee-jerk reaction to President Bush

and anything he is involved in. I haven’t liked a president

since Eisenhowe excepting Ronnie. But the polarization

between democrats and republicans right now is

insane… neither candidate was any prize package.

What do I know, I’m just an old independent, ranting.

OneNeutrino says:

Okay I am not Anon anymore, because I guess lazyness is a target for a personal attack and preventing the topic from being argued. So, clearly I need to be more specific. Please make some attempt to read the Whistle Blower Act. In there you will learn what “the proper channels are” since you don’t seem to know what you are arguing about. BTW I don’t care about the dictionary definition ehrichweiss. Its a law problem so argue law.

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