Whistleblower Babak Pasdar Available for Briefings and Interviews during Congressional Recess
(Washington, D.C.) – Telecommunications whistleblower Babak Pasdar praised today’s House of Representatives 214-195 vote denying corporate immunity in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) reauthorization. Pasdar, a computer expert, is a client of the Government Accountability Project (GAP). In 2003, he discovered a mysterious “Quantico Circuit” from a major telecommunications firm that provided unfettered access to all customer communications connected directly or indirectly to mobile phones.
Last week, Pasdar released a public affidavit to all 435 House members after years of frustration with anonymous disclosures to government offices. His disclosure is credited with helping reverse the outcome of a House showdown on corporate accountability when telecoms violate customers’ legal privacy rights at government request.
Pasdar commented on today’s vote, “I am glad the House looked beyond the propaganda and stayed true to the constitution. I know there is a better approach than asking Americans to trade in their liberties for perceived security.” His attorney, GAP Legal Director Tom Devine, added, “Today the House voted to defend freedom and the rule of law where it counts the most – at home.”
GAP credited civil liberties coalition leaders from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ACLU and Center for National Security Studies with networking and distribution that meant Pasdar’s voice was heard and taken seriously, rather than drowned out by demagogic fear tactics. Devine also credited public solidarity by 35 good government and watchdog groups not previously connected with the legislation, but chose to rally behind Pasdar. Most significant was support from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mi), Telecommunications Subcommittee Chair Edward Markey (D-Ma) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Bart Stupak (D-Mi), who championed Pasdar’s dissent and cautioned against immunity before the facts are in a letter to all House Members.
The House vote creates a deadlock with the Senate, which already has passed a bill with blanket retroactive immunity for any government-directed surveillance by the telephone companies. Pasdar’s disclosure put an exclamation point next to a fundamental, unanswered question frustrating the House leadership: “Immunity for what?”
GAP illustrated questions that must be answered for Congress to make an informed decision: “Who was at the other end of the Quantico Circuit, and what information have they been obtaining? Does such access comport with long-standing federal law? Is the circuit legal? Is its apparent lack of security legal or wise? How long has it been in operation? Who paid for construction and operation of the Quantico Circuit? Was the telecom paid by its recipients for using the circuit? What were the terms?”
Pasdar is making himself available to brief any citizen organizations or journalists who would find it helpful during a two week recess, before Congress returns to attempt resolution of the impasse.