Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut
Former AT&T technician Mark Klein is the key witness in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class-action lawsuit against the telecommunications company, which alleges that AT&T cooperated in an illegal National Security Agency domestic surveillance program.
Inside the Secret Room
A federal judge refuses to give AT&T back its internal documents, but orders the EFF not to give them out.[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: However, nothing was said about other publications (net or printed) not giving them out. PAT]
Years before the NSA's warrantless surveillance program made national headlines, then-AT&T technician Mark Klein suspected his company was colluding with the government to spy on Americans.
The Ultimate Net Monitoring Tool
A little-known company called Narus makes the packet-inspection technology said to be the basis of the NSA's internet surveillance. Here's how it works.
In a public statement Klein issued last month, he described the NSA's visit to an AT&T office. In an older, less-public statement recently acquired by Wired News, Klein goes into additional details of his discovery of an alleged surveillance operation in an AT&T building in San Francisco.
Klein supports his claim by attaching excerpts of three internal company documents: a Dec. 10, 2002, manual titled "Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco," a Jan. 13, 2003, document titled "SIMS, Splitter Cut-In and Test Procedure" and a second "Cut-In and Test Procedure" dated Jan. 24, 2003.
Here we present Klein's statement in its entirety. This, and other documents were filed under seal in federal court in San Francisco.
AT&T's Implementation of NSA Spying on American Citizens31 December 2005
I wrote the following document in 2004 when it became clear to me that AT&T, at the behest of the National Security Agency, had illegally installed secret computer gear designed to spy on internet traffic. At the time I thought this was an outgrowth of the notorious Total Information Awareness program, which was attacked by defenders of civil liberties. But now it's been revealed by The New York Times that the spying program is vastly bigger and was directly authorized by President Bush, as he himself has now admitted, in flagrant violation of specific statutes and constitutional protections for civil liberties. I am presenting this information to facilitate the dismantling of this dangerous Orwellian project.
AT&T Deploys Government Spy Gear on WorldNet Network -- 16 January, 2004
In 2003 AT&T built "secret rooms" hidden deep in the bowels of its central offices in various cities, housing computer gear for a government spy operation which taps into the company's popular WorldNet service and the entire internet. These installations enable the government to look at every individual message on the internet and analyze exactly what people are doing. Documents showing the hardwire installation in San Francisco suggest that there are similar locations being installed in numerous other cities.
The physical arrangement, the timing of its construction, the government-imposed secrecy surrounding it and other factors all strongly suggest that its origins are rooted in the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program which brought forth vigorous protests from defenders of constitutionally protected civil liberties last year:
"As the director of the effort, Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, has described the system in Pentagon documents and in speeches, it will provide intelligence analysts and law enforcement officials with instant access to information from internet mail and calling records to credit card and banking transactions and travel documents, without a search warrant." The New York Times, 9 November 2002 To mollify critics, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) spokesmen have repeatedly asserted that they are only conducting "research" using "artificial synthetic data" or information from "normal DOD intelligence channels" and hence there are "no U.S. citizen privacy implications" (Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General report on TIA, December 12, 2003). They also changed the name of the program to "Terrorism Information Awareness" to make it more politically palatable. But feeling the heat, Congress made a big show of allegedly cutting off funding for TIA in late 2003, and the political fallout resulted in Adm. Poindexter's abrupt resignation last August. However, the fine print reveals that Congress eliminated funding only for "the majority of the TIA components," allowing several "components" to continue (DOD, ibid). The essential hardware elements of a TIA-type spy program are being surreptitiously slipped into "real world" telecommunications offices.
In San Francisco the "secret room" is Room 641A at 611 Folsom Street, the site of a large SBC phone building, three floors of which are occupied by AT&T. High-speed fiber-optic circuits come in on the 8th floor and run down to the 7th floor where they connect to routers for AT&T's WorldNet service, part of the latter's vital "Common Backbone." In order to snoop on these circuits, a special cabinet was installed and cabled to the "secret room" on the 6th floor to monitor the information going through the circuits. (The location code of the cabinet is 070177.04, which denotes the 7th floor, aisle 177 and bay04.) The "secret room" itself is roughly 24-by-48 feet, containing perhaps a dozen cabinets including such equipment as Sun servers and two Juniper routers, plus an industrial-size air conditioner.
The normal work force of unionized technicians in the office are forbidden to enter the "secret room," which has a special combination lock on the main door. The telltale sign of an illicit government spy operation is the fact that only people with security clearance from the National Security Agency can enter this room. In practice this has meant that only one management-level technician works in there. Ironically, the one who set up the room was laid off in late2003 in one of the company's endless "downsizings," but he was quickly replaced by another.
Plans for the "secret room" were fully drawn up by December 2002, curiously only four months after Darpa started awarding contracts for TIA. One 60-page document, identified as coming from "AT&T Labs Connectivity & Net Services" and authored by the labs' consultant Mathew F. Casamassima, is titled Study Group 3, LGX/Splitter Wiring, San Francisco and dated 12/10/02. This document addresses the special problem of trying to spy on fiber-optic circuits. Unlike copper wire circuits which emit electromagnetic fields that can be tapped into without disturbing the circuits, fiber-optic circuits do not "leak" their light signals. In order to monitor such communications, one has to physically cut into the fiber somehow and divert a portion of the light signal to see the information.
This problem is solved with "splitters" which literally split off a percentage of the light signal so it can be examined. This is the purpose of the special cabinet referred to above: Circuits are connected into it, the light signal is split into two signals, one of which is diverted to the "secret room." The cabinet is totally unnecessary for the circuit to perform -- in fact it introduces problems since the signal level is reduced by the splitter -- its only purpose is to enable a third party to examine the data flowing between sender and recipient on the internet.
The above-referenced document includes a diagram showing the splitting of the light signal, a portion of which is diverted to "SG3 Secure Room," i.e., the so-called "Study Group" spy room. Another page headlined "Cabinet Naming" lists not only the "splitter" cabinet but also the equipment installed in the "SG3" room, including various Sun devices, and Juniper M40e and M160 "backbone" routers. PDF file 4 shows one of many tables detailing the connections between the "splitter" cabinet on the 7th floor (location 070177.04) and a cabinet in the "secret room" on the 6th floor (location 060903.01). Since the San Francisco "secret room" is numbered 3, the implication is that there are at least several more in other cities (Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego are some of the rumored locations), which likely are spread across the United States.
One of the devices in the "Cabinet Naming" list is particularly revealing as to the purpose of the "secret room": a Narus STA6400. Narus is a 7-year-old company which, because of its particular niche, appeals not only to businessmen (it is backed by AT&T, JP Morgan and Intel, among others) but also to police, military and intelligence officials. Last November 13-14, for instance, Narus was the "Lead Sponsor" for a technical conference held in McLean, Virginia, titled "Intelligence Support Systems for Lawful Interception and Internet Surveillance." Police officials, FBI and DEA agents, and major telecommunications companies eager to cash in on the "war on terror" had gathered in the hometown of the CIA to discuss their special problems. Among the attendees were AT&T, BellSouth, MCI, Sprint and Verizon. Narus founder, Dr. Ori Cohen, gave a keynote speech. So what does the Narus STA 6400 do?
"The (Narus) STA Platform consists of standalone traffic analyzers that collect network and customer usage information in real time directly from the message.... These analyzers sit on the message pipe into the ISP (internet service provider) cloud rather than tap into each router or ISP device" (Telecommunications magazine, April2000). A Narus press release (1 Dec., 1999) also boasts that its Semantic Traffic Analysis (STA) technology "captures comprehensive customer usage data ... and transforms it into actionable information.... (It) is the only technology that provides complete visibility for all internet applications."
To implement this scheme, WorldNet's high-speed data circuits already in service had to be rerouted to go through the special "splitter" cabinet. This was addressed in another document of 44 pages from AT&T Labs, titled SIMS, Splitter Cut-In and Test Procedure, dated01/13/03. "SIMS" is an unexplained reference to the secret room. Part of this reads as follows:
"A WMS (work) Ticket will be issued by the AT&T Bridgeton Network Operation Center (NOC) to charge time for performing the work described in this procedure document....
"This procedure covers the steps required to insert optical splitters into select live Common Backbone (CBB) OC3, OC12 and OC48 optical circuits." The NOC referred to is in Bridgeton, Missouri, and controls WorldNet operations. (As a sign that government spying goes hand-in-hand with union-busting, the entire (Communication Workers of America) Local 6377 which had jurisdiction over the Bridgeton NOC was wiped out in early 2002 when AT&T fired the union work force and later rehired them as nonunion "management" employees.) The cut-in work was performed in 2003, and since then new circuits are connected through the "splitter" cabinet.
Another Cut-In and Test Procedure document dated January 24, 2003, provides diagrams of how AT&T Core Network circuits were to be run through the "splitter" cabinet. One page lists the circuit IDs of key Peering Links which were "cut-in" in February 2003, including ConXion, Verio, XO, Genuity, Qwest, PAIX, Allegiance, AboveNet, Global Crossing, C&W, UUNET, Level 3, Sprint, Telia, PSINet and Mae West. By the way, Mae West is one of two key internet nodal points in the United States (the other, Mae East, is in Vienna, Virginia). It's not just WorldNet customers who are being spied on -- it's the entire internet.
The next logical question is, what central command is collecting the data sent by the various "secret rooms"? One can only make educated guesses, but perhaps the answer was inadvertently given in the DOD Inspector General's report (cited above):
"For testing TIA capabilities, Darpa and the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) created an operational research and development environment that uses real-time feedback. The main node of TIA is located at INSCOM (in Fort Belvoir, Virginia).."
Among the agencies participating or planning to participate in the INSCOM "testing" are the "National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the DOD Counterintelligence Field Activity, the U.S. Strategic Command, the Special Operations Command, the Joint Forces Command and the Joint Warfare Analysis Center." There are also "discussions" going on to bring in "non-DOD federal agencies" such as the FBI.
This is the infrastructure for an Orwellian police state. It must be shut down!
By Ryan Singel13:30 PM May, 26, 2006
Formerly sealed documents from a lawsuit against AT&T for allegedly helping the National Security Agency spy on Americans' communications without a warrant were released in redacted form Thursday, and confirm the legitimacy of documents published earlier by Wired News.
The papers, which were obtained by Wired News through an anonymous source, included a declaration written by Mark Klein, several snapshots of a secret room in an AT&T facility in San Francisco that Klein alleges is used to spy on a wide swath of domestic internet traffic, and eight pages of wiring diagrams marked "AT&T Proprietary."
In order to help the Electronic Frontier Foundation's class-action lawsuit, Klein provided the online civil liberties advocacy group with a sworn affidavit and three documents, totaling more than 140 pages. The EFF filed these, along with a motion asking for a preliminary injunction that would stop the alleged spying and an evaluation of Klein's evidence by a former FCC internet expert, under seal with the court.
While the judge in the case initially declined to unseal the documents last week, he ordered AT&T and EFF to jointly redact Klein's statement and the preliminary injunction motion and make them public.
Much of the wording in the redacted text of Klein's affidavit (seefor details and .pdf), which was published in the court docket Thursday afternoon, matches language in the statement published Monday by Wired News.
Technical details in the newly released documents also mesh with the documents published by Wired News. Additionally, both sets of documents refer to an employee who was cleared by the NSA to work in the room, but who was later laid off by AT&T as part of a downsizing. This shared detail, along with others, was not part of Klein's only previous public statement, which was released by his lawyer in early April and printed in full by Wired News.
The proposed preliminary injunction (.pdf) filed by the EFF also referred to a declaration by J. Scott Marcus, a former senior technical adviser for internet technology for the FCC.
Marcus found that the surveillance room described in documents provided by Klein is "consistent with the media reports describing telecommunication companies' assistance with the program, and illustrates an infrastructure built and designed by AT&T Corp. to conduct large-scale covert collection and intensive analysis of substantial amounts of both international and domestic communications carried by AT&T Corp.'s network, including domestic communications of AT&T WorldNet internet service customers such as the plaintiffs."
Additionally, the preliminary injunction argues that the secret room was connected to an "additional, parallel backbone network that would be unnecessary if AT&T Corp. were merely using the Surveillance Configuration for ordinary business purposes, because such analytical results could, and logically would, be transmitted over the common backbone."
The presence of extra routers on the list of equipment in the documents published by Wired News suggests intercepted traffic is being forwarded somewhere, according to Columbia University computer science professor Steven Bellovin.
But Bellovin points out the system described could not forward all the internet data flowing into the room.
"An OC-3 network (150 Mbit/s) can't possibly carry all of the traffic from multiple OC-3, -12 (621 Mbit/s), and -48 (2488 Mbit/s) networks back to Ft. Meade (NSA headquarters)," Bellovin said in an e-mail. "They'd have to do some filtering there." But the other equipment in the room, including a Narus packet inspection tool, is well suited to pick out traffic of interest and forward it along.
Bellovin was one of the technical experts who looked at the documents for Wired News. He suggested that the room might be part of a network-management system or used to comply with lawful wiretap orders.
But Klein's statements about the room being off-limits to anyone not cleared by the NSA make Bellovin suspicious.
"The taps are oddly located for the alleged purpose, but the restricted-access room is unusual," Bellovin said.
AT&T filed a redacted brief in its defense this week, but carried out the redaction in a sloppy manner that makes it easy to remove the black bars.
The poorly redacted text included the statement, "Although the plaintiffs ominously refer to the equipment as the 'Surveillance Configuration,' the same physical equipment could be utilized exclusively for other surveillance in full compliance with" the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, according to CNET News.com.
That brief, along with one filed by the federal government, argued that the judge should promptly look at secret documents prepared for him by the government.
Those documents, which include sworn statements by the head of the NSA and the director of national intelligence, constitute the government's argument as to why the case should be dismissed on national security grounds.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker will review the government and AT&T's motions to dismiss the case June 23.
Copyright 2006 Wired News[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That rule about 'forbidden to enter the area' (by anyone other than a couple people) was also the case in Chicago when the ESS machinery was first installed back in the early to middle 1970's. The very large Illinois Bell building downtown at Congress Parkway and Clark Street (65 West Congress) was originally full of the older style switches and frames. When they started installing the ESS equipment, one or two floors of the building became totally _off limits_ to even telephone workers who did not have a special pass to be in the area. I found this out through a discussion with an old man (in 1975) who was about to retire from Illinois Bell. He had been an 'inside plant' worker for many years. I asked him once, "what does that ESS stuff look like?" His reply was, "I have never seen it up close. None of us older guys are allowed in that room. Only a couple of the young kids who know about computers are allowed to go anywhere near it. They told me and the guys I work with to stay away from the area." See for the full report, pictures and sketches, etc. PAT]