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Nacchio Confirms Qwest Received NSA Requests
By Shawn Young
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 12, 2006

Former Qwest Communications International Chief Executive Joseph P. Nacchio confirmed on Friday that he had been approached by the National Security Agency in 2001 with a request for "access to the private telephone records of Qwest customers."

A press release put out by his attorney, Herbert Stern, said Mr. Nacchio declined the NSA's request because the agency did not have a warrant and that the authorities showed "a disinclination…to use any legal process, including the special court which had been established to handle such matters."

Mr. Nacchio refused the request, the statement said, and the refusal remained in effect until he left the company in the summer of 2002.

The statement by Mr. Nacchio's lawyer said that Mr. Nacchio believed the NSA's request for customer records "violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."  The statement did not give details about the amount or type of records requested by the NSA.

The statement broadly confirms a report in USA Today that the NSA sought to gather extensive data on customers' calling patterns and that Qwest refused.  The paper's report said AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. complied with the request, which resulted in the creation of a massive database of virtually every call.  The agency did not listen to the calls, but instead sought to analyze calling patterns for clues to terrorist activities in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the report said.  That report added to earlier revelations that the government engaged in warrantless eavesdropping on overseas communications in search of terrorist activities.

AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon yesterday declined to comment on reports that they cooperated with the NSA.  They said they protect customer privacy and act within the law.

Mr. Nacchio's statement came as he faces criminal insider trading charges in connection with his sale of $101 million worth of Qwest stock in 2001.  National security activities play a pivotal role in the defense Mr. Nacchio is mounting.  He has said in filings with the U.S. District Court in Denver that he intends to claim that he didn't sell Qwest stock because he knew the company was headed for trouble.  Instead, he says he was confident about Qwest's prospects because he was aware of top secret, national security related contracts that Qwest appeared poised to win.  Other executives who expressed concern about Qwest's ability to sustain its brisk revenue growth didn't know about the potential contracts, the defense argues.

Shortly after the sales, Mr. Nacchio was appointed vice chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a panel of top-ranking communications and technology executives that advise the president.

Write to Shawn Young at shawn.young@wsj.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114744633378951344.html?mod=home_whats_news_us