Mr. Klein Goes To Washington
Mark Klein, a 62-year-old retired AT&T technician, spent 22 years with the company and exposed their participation
(pdf) in the government's warrantless wiretap program. Klein today took an important trip to Washington DC
His goal? To try and convince Congress that AT&T should not
be given legal immunity for handing over your voice and data to Uncle Sam without a court order. AT&T and Verizon are currently facing 37 different lawsuits for their involvement. Klein makes it clear his goal is Justice, not "bringing down"
the company or lower level AT&T employees:
The plain-spoken, bespectacled Klein, 62, said he may be the only person in the country in a position to discuss firsthand knowledge of an important aspect of the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. He is retired, so he isn't worried about losing his job. He did not have security clearance, and the documents in his possession were not classified, he said. He has no qualms about "turning in," as he put it, the company where he worked for 22 years until he retired in 2004.
"If they've done something massively illegal and unconstitutional -- well, they should suffer the consequences," Klein said. "It's not my place to feel bad for them. They made their bed, they have to lie in it. The ones who did [anything wrong], you can be sure, are high up in the company. Not the average Joes, who I enjoyed working with."
The phone companies, meanwhile, have been spending millions to lobby lawmakers in order to dodge legal accountability for their actions (one wonders how well that would work for you or I). Former Attorney General John Ashcroft (now a telecom lobbyist paid by AT&T) penned this editorial
in the New York Times this week, arguing that the telcos were simply following orders:
If the attorney general of the United States says that an intelligence-gathering operation has been determined to be lawful, a company should be able to rely on that determination.
Klein (and the EFF, who is suing AT&T on your behalf) believe that AT&T chose to participate in what AT&T lawyers knew
was a constitutionally dubious endeavor -- they just never believed it would become public information. Allowing unfettered access to all customer data and phone communications -- across multiple carriers -- violated your legal rights, and Klein believes they should be held legally accountable for their error in judgment.
You and I would be.