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