From Wired's Threat Level
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.
That consultant is a man named Babak Pasdar, who outlined the accusation in an an affidavit
(pdf) for the Government Accountability Project
. Pasdar does not name the wireless carrier, but Wired
reports that "his claims are nearly identical to unsourced allegations made in a federal lawsuit filed in 2006," which names Verizon Wireless.
In the affidavit, Pasdar says that he was hired by the carrier in 2003 to do a major security overhaul, a taxing job that was going relatively smoothly, having covered more than 300 sites, until he asked why the overhaul seemed to be skipping one location, which the carrier consultants called the "Quantico Circuit." Quantico, Virginia is home to the FBI Academy and the bureau's electronic surveillance operations.
When Pasdar asked the company's security consultants about the location, he only got smiles. And when he insisted that the location be covered by the same security procedures as the others, one of the consultants replied "I don't think that is what they want." When he asked "Who?" the consultants didn't respond. Then the company's security director appeared to demand that Pasdar "move on" and "forget about the circuit" or he'd be fired.
In a later conversation, Pasdar asked a company consultant if he didn't think "it is unusual for some third party to have completely open access to your systems like this?"
To which the consultant responded, "Dude, that's what they want." That's all Pasdar was able to learn.
Pasdar's account is reminiscent of that given by Mark Klein, the former AT&T technician who's affidavit
about the NSA's room at AT&T's Folsom Street Facility has provided the basis for the Electronic Frontier Foundation's suit against AT&T, with the notable difference that Klein was able to do a lot more snooping.