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May 27, 2006

AT&T accidentally leaks info on NSA spying program has learned that AT&T's lawyers accidentally disclosed sensitive information about the NSA domestic spying program by forgetting to securely redact lines in a .pdf file. The "redacted" material consisted of AT&T's benign explanations for the existence of a room that the Electronic Frontier Foundation considers to be an illegal domestic spying facility, a room that AT&T does not officially acknowledge to exist....

The deleted portions of the legal brief seek to offer benign reasons why AT&T would allegedly have a secret room at its downtown San Francisco switching center that would be designed to monitor Internet and telephone traffic.[...]

Another section says: "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.

The redacted portions of AT&T's court filing are not classified, and no information relating to actual operations of an NSA surveillance program was disclosed. Also, AT&T's attorneys at the law firms of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Sidley Austin were careful not to explicitly acknowledge that such a secret room actually exists. [CNET]

So, just to recap, AT&T doesn't acknowledge that the room exists, but they've already written up excuses for why the room they may or may not have is benign.


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That's the thing...the truth leaks.

The most revealing thing about this whole story

AT&T's attorneys this week filed a 25-page legal brief striped with thick black lines that were intended to obscure portions of three pages and render them unreadable (click here for PDF).

But the obscured text nevertheless can be copied and pasted inside some PDF readers, including Preview under Apple Computer's OS X and the xpdf utility used with X11.

is that AT&T's attorneys are stupid.

It probably goes without saying that I meant to end the blockquote after "X11."

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