US Had Spy Program Before Sept. 11, Ex-CEO Says

The former CEO of Qwest Communications claims the company lost hundreds of millions of dollars in government contracts after he refused its request for customer records in a secret surveillance program.

Joseph Nacchio says in court documents unsealed last week that his company got the National Security Agency request almost seven months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the New York Times reports. He says he turned down the government proposal because he believed it was illegal.

Nacchio, who was convicted of insider trading in April, maintains in his appeal that he believed his optimistic public forecasts about the company because he thought Qwest was about to win the lucrative government contracts, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.). The government said he sold $52 million in stock when he knew the company’s finances were precarious.

The revelations about the early NSA request could affect congressional debate on whether to give immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the government program, the Washington Post reports.

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