Former Qwest CEO out of prison, blames NSA for troubles

Revelations made by NSA leaker Edward Snowden would have given former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio a fighting chance to beat insider-trading charges that garnered him a 70-month jail term, says Nacchio, who was released this month after serving four and a half years.

Had he been able to provide testimony that the government brought the charges in retaliation of Nacchio's refusal to let Qwest participate in a warrantless surveillance program sought by the NSA without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court a program that came to light with the NSA documents Snowden leaked, Nacchio told the Wall Street Journal.

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The insider-trading charges stemmed from Nacchio selling $52 million in stock just before the stock tanked. Nacchio's claims that the stock tanked when contracts he expected the government to award Qwest didn't come through were never heard at his trial. The judge ruled that evidence to support the claim was classified.

Snowden's leaks back up the claim that the NSA was engaging in unwarranted surveillance much as Nacchio claimed from the outset. News stories in 2006 outlined the basics of the warrantless surveillance program, attributing the information to anonymous sources.

Those sources said the program went into effect after the 9/11 attacks, but Nacchio says he was approached beforehand. The program amasses details about all calls made to and from phones inside the U.S. and stores them in a database that is supposed to be accessed only if a FISA judge says there's cause and issues a warrant.

Meanwhile, Nacchio says that private equity firms have offered him work as a consultant and that he's working on two books. One is about his experiences with the NSA and what they show about the loss of liberties in the U.S. The other is about his time in prison. Meanwhile, he's got a work-release job in a New Jersey law firm, the Wall Street Journal story says.

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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