Report: Bush administration used blackmailed judges to approve NSA spying
Officials of the National Security Agency requested warrantless wiretapping from the chairman of the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Council (NSTAC) at a meeting at NSA headquarters on February 27, 2001, seven months before the 9/11 attack.
This stunning revelation was made by the former NSTAC chairman, Joseph Nacchio, who cited court documents from the government’s retaliatory 2005 case against him for insider trading. Nacchio made his remarks at a Newsmaker press conference at the National Press Club on July 29.
In response to NSA’s request, Nacchio asked the agency representatives if they had a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant. The reply was no. Nacchio then asked them if they had presidential executive authority. The answer was again no. Although Nacchio also served as chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications, his refusal to provide NSA with warrantless wiretapping of Qwest lines was made more significant in his role as NSTAC chairman. Other NSTAC members quickly followed suit in rejecting NSA’s request. They included AT&T, SBC Communications, Sprint, Bell South, Verizon, WorldCom, and others.
The Bush administration retaliated against Nacchio by indicting him for insider trading in 2005, five days before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Rather than try Nacchio in the Southern District of New York, where the alleged trades were made, or the Northern District of New Jersey, where Nacchio resided, the Department of Justice went judge shopping and decided to indict in Denver, the location of Qwest’s corporate headquarters. George Nottingham, the judge chosen was in a blackmailable position.