The Quantico Circuit

Yesterday, Wired’s Threat Level reported on the Quantico Circuit, what appears to be Verizon’s back door to give the government complete access to our telecommunications.

A U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier’s systems, exposing customers’ voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance, according to a computer security consultant who says he worked for the carrier in late 2003.

"What I thought was alarming is how this carrier ended up essentially allowing a third party outside their organization to have unfettered access to their environment," Babak Pasdar, now CEO of New York-based Bat Blue told Threat Level. "I wanted to put some access controls around it; they vehemently denied it. And when I wanted to put some logging around it, they denied that."

Pasdar won’t name the wireless carrier in question, but his claims are nearly identical to unsourced allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006 against four phone companies and the U.S. government for alleged privacy violations. That suit names Verizon Wireless as the culprit. [my emphasis]

To which John Dingell and friends respond, this is another reason not to pass telecom immunity.

Because legislators should not vote before they have sufficient facts, we continue to insist that all House Members be given access to the necessary information, including the relevant documents underlying this matter, to make an informed decision on their vote. After reviewing the documentation and these latest allegations, Members should be given adequate time to properly evaluate the separate question of retroactive immunity.

Yeah, and while we’re at it, let’s figure out why the email providers are actually opposed to retroactive immunity. 

16 replies
  1. NCDem says:

    I wonder what bells and whistles would have gone off if Babek Pasdar had written up a liability waiver form for the DS (Director of Security) stating his concerns about the unfettered link that violated protocol and allowed possible damage or virus to invade his clients system. Having completing such form, just requested him to sign below as a precaution for future damages or possible litigation because he had performed work outside his ethical standards.

    Based upon the distance quoted in the testimony by Pasdar, my assumption is that the DS was out of the Verizon Fairfax office since it took almost an hour for him to suddenly visit the job site in Quantico.

  2. perris says:

    you know, tom hartman made a great point the other day that made some sense but not entirely and I’d like your take Marcy;

    he said the telecoms don’t need immunity, that they definitely had the proper authority from bush and his administration and the lawyers would make certain they had no liability

    that the entire issue was to protect the administration, that if the telecoms were challenged to produce the proof that they followed proper protocol, we would discover that the administration was listening in on democrats and political rivals

    so he says there the telecoms don’t give a rats butt about this immunity

    his reasoning makes sense accept there are those telecoms that refused the requests from the administration

    I think that’s a weak link in tom hartman’s assessment

    your thoughts?

  3. Ishmael says:

    Can this revelation serve as a basis to get past the standing problem that is part of the triple-barrelled standing/state secret/immunity strategy to cover up Bush’s Stasi?

  4. LS says:

    Quantico is rather close to D.C.

    If the telcos don’t need immunity, but the Administration does…

  5. mainsailset says:

    Kind of puts a bullseye on attorney/client confidentiality or doctor/patient disclosures, eh?

  6. Praedor says:

    Ya know, I have been wanting to get off my current Cingular (now ATT) wireless network precisely because ATT gives the NSA a direct feed of everything that passes through their wires. I was thinking of Verizon but then this shit came up.

    My Working Assets (now CREDO) long distance provider now offers wireless. They state uncatagorically that they do not do this sort of shit but…they piggyback off of Verizon’s network so they don’t have to do the spying or spy-enabling shit because Verizon is doing it for them!

    Is there ANY provider that isn’t part of the Police State machinery?

    Are there any encrypted cell phones? I’d buy one and hand others out to those I would intend to call just to keep these weasels out of my business.

    Are there ANY trusted wireless providers in the USA?

    • phred says:

      CREDO piggy backs off Sprint NOT Verizon. That said, I have no idea what mischief Sprint may have been up to.

  7. drational says:

    Are the email providers opposed to immunity because they had better lawyers and did not play ball? Perhaps an impending TelCo litigation tie-up over past practices gives the emailCos a long-term strategic business benefit.

    You know, follow the money and all…..

    • bmaz says:

      No, they certainly don’t have better lawyers, but the two classes of entities are not necessarily similarly situated, and for a variety or reasons, it would be easier for the email providers to decline participation. Assuming they did indeed refuse which is, itself, not an easy assumption.

      • drational says:

        maybe they were not presented with the opportunity to refuse. If the government wanted any emails coming in and out of google servers, they just pick it off the mirrored tubes, no?

        with big telcos suffering financially, new startups, maybe partnering with the emailCos, less competition at the upcoming FCC bandwith auctions?

  8. portorcliff says:

    Let’s shine the light on all the spigots we can accurately identify.
    Right now I know about 2. The magic door in SFO and now the Quantico Circuit.

    If we identify with 90% accuaracy where the spigots are and confirm that they are unmonitored, unprotected taps what Telecom provider will want to be associated with that? They all will be looking to get the blame properly placed (on the government that coerced their cooperation). Whaddaya say? Anybody want to go on a hunt?

  9. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    If Verizon Wireless is the company I am not surprised one bit.

    I worked there for about five months in the Business to Business sales portion.

    I found the whole place very disturbing on so many levels. I felt they were not honest with their employees and did not treat them very well. Customer service was therefore abysmal. They trained us to compete on quality and then they couldn’t get a bill right to save their lives.

    I boycott Verizon and tell everyone I know that it is not good. I don’t want to give those people my money.

    People should know that whether you are on Sprint or Alltel the company I use, whenever you are on the “extended network” you are very likely to be on the Verizon network. The extended network of these companies is most likely Verizon. Similarly if you are on Verizon and get extended network you are likely to be on Sprint.

    Basically if you have a CDMA cellphone provider you will not avoid Verizon.

    AT&T uses GSM technology and they have problems too.

    We have to fight this. We must assume until proven otherwise that all of them are involved. No immunity. Ever.

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