Should telecom companies that helped the National Security Agency wiretap consumers without warrants receive retroactive immunity for their actions? Last Friday, the House voted “No” in its first secret session in 25 years. The Senate, which already passed a bill supporting legal immunity for phone companies, will revisit the debate next month after a break. The White House called the House vote “a significant step backward in defending our country against terrorism.”
PBS NOW sheds some light on the debate by interviewing whistleblower Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who witnessed the company’s data-gathering firsthand:
Klein tells David Brancaccio about the “secret room” set up by the National Security Agency inside his AT&T office in San Francisco. He also describes in remarkable detail—with documents to back him up—how wires were split and extra equipment was brought in to essentially suck up and store emails from all over the country. Klein claims this activity is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet the White House continues to press Congress not only for authorization to continue surveillance but also for legal immunity for cooperating telecom companies.