Nacchio, Qwest and NSA Warrantless Surveillance Demands

October 11 2007, 4:32 PM

The Judge in the insider trading trial of former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio has unsealed documents related to his classified information defense which he was not allowed to present at trial. This is coming up now because yesterday Joe Nacchio filed his appeal brief and one of the grounds alleges the Judge erred in refusing him to raise the defense. The Rocky Mountain News reports:

The National Security Agency and other government agencies retaliated against Qwest because the Denver telco refused to go along with a phone spying program, documents released Wednesday suggest. The documents indicate that likely would have been at the heart of former CEO Joe Nacchio's so-called "classified information" defense at his insider trading trial, had he been allowed to present it.

As to specifics:

The partially redacted documents were filed under seal before, during and after Nacchio's trial. They were released Wednesday. Nacchio planned to demonstrate at trial that he had a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., to discuss a $100 million project. According to the documents, another topic also was discussed at that meeting, one with which Nacchio refused to comply. The topic itself is redacted each time it appears in the hundreds of pages of documents, but there is mention of Nacchio believing the request was both inappropriate and illegal, and repeatedly refusing to go along with it. The NSA contract was awarded in July 2001 to companies other than Qwest.

It's been previously widely reported that Qwest refused to comply with the Government's demands, believing them to be illegal, unlike AT&T, Verizon and Bell South. (More here.) As I wrote at the time, "Three cheers for Denver-based U.S. Qwest." If Nacchio was behind the refusal, and I were the Judge, I think I would have departed downward from the sentencing guidelines for that act alone. [Cross-posted at TalkLeft.com]

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