back to article 'The NSA set me up,' ex-con Qwest exec claims

Former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, having recently completed a prison sentence for insider trading, maintains that he never committed any crime and that the sole reason for his conviction can be summed up in three letters: NSA. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Nacchio said former security contractor Edward Snowden's …


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  1. Mtech25

    Cough bullSh*t Cough

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Mtech25

      Indeed, I predict that the NSA will soon be the stock excuse for all types of jiggerypokery. No doubt next week the Whale Traders will be claiming "the NSA made me do it!"; Bill Clinton will be insisting that Monica Lewinsky was an NSA plant; and Larry Ellison will be confirming the only reason he bought SUN was because the CIA paid him to.

      1. nsld

        Re: Mtech25

        Contrary to popular belief Matt you won't get a better seat in heaven or extra virgins for sticking your tongue up the US governments arse.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Re: Mtech25

          Contrary to popular belief Matt you won't get a better seat in heaven or extra virgins for sticking your tongue up the US governments arse. .... nsld Posted Wednesday 2nd October 2013 08:07 GMT

          The likes of El Reg is bound to attract its more than fair share of fully paid up and paid for establishment trolls attempting to poison the fonts and wells of emerging and new knowledge, nsld. Done well, IT can make one a gazillionaire which is mighty rich. However, it does certain difficulties which makes it an odd choice to consider if one values the future and would be expecting to be present in it .... and if seriously aspirational and inspirational too, leading one's way in it with IT.

          Done badly though and it just draws attention to the vulnerabilities to be ruthlessly zeroday exploited and shared for others have some fun and play great games with and which are dealing in catastrophes and systemic collapses.

          Ignorance is a true bliss which many will say has arrogance as its fraudulent reward.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          Re: nsld Re: Mtech25

          "....better seat in heaven...." Sorry, chap, but unlike you I don't baaaah-lieve in fairytales. If I did I'd be more inclined to hell - all the interesting people will be there, whilst heaven will probably just be full of the pious like you, riding around on their moral hobbyhorses.

    2. Anakin

      I totaly agree.

      There is no such agensy and they don't have employes whitewashing on the internet with FUD.

      </ Irony>

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually it is not

      What he is saying is common knowledge in the industry and one of the reasons why everyone is towing the line and not squeaking.

      Once Qwest refused to implement Dubya's illegal (as it was at the time) snooping programme it was systematically run into the ground by US govt.

      1. It lost all Govt contracts

      2. It had IRS camping on their premises digging for dirt

      3. The CEO and other execs had their dirty loundry regularly uppear from somewhere (nobody knows where) for public consumption. Usually before financial results.

      And so on. Until one of the great US companies was no more.

      1. swschrad

        nonsense, it was a pump-and-dump

        Evil Joey Nachos KNEW Qwest was going to lose Federal contracts. he KNEW his minions outside the C-suite were not raking in billions of dollars free from the Internet, there was this little thing called "building out" that would eat a lot of the money. and he conspired with the 5 others indicted (who all did plea deals) to cover that up long enough to sell a tubload of his stock before the shit hit the fan. he poured money into KPNQwest in Holland until KPN had enough and pulled the plug, and still blithely told the stock callers, "We'll just light our own fiber," that of course being the part that pushed KPN to the brink.

        Nacchio was duly convicted and jailed and made to pay back far too little of his ripoff, and he's got a lot more in common with Spoonie and Juice, two failed drug dealers, than he had with his peers in telecom.

        It is too bad he will not make a farewell tour of Qwest facilities. We have been waiting patiently for him...

        1. J__M__M

          Re: nonsense, it was a pump-and-dump

          So besides being YOUR CEO, what makes him different than any other CEO ?

    4. LarsG

      The hard part is proving it, especially as nothing can be disclosed because of national security.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Innocent people never go to jail in the US.......

      Innocent people have nothing to fear from the Government.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        The reflexive "he was an exec, he must be bad" idiots are out in force I see. Apparently they trust the government and the SEC. I laugh.

        "Insider trading" is very often a bullshit accusation, where you are being asked to prove you are not a witch. I expect the next level will come where you are accused of not having sold your shares in spite of knowing their value would go up, depriving poor widows and children of their just rent.

        The real insiders are setting pretty on the Hill and clustering around Fed offices to pull on the contracts fuelled by money printing. Anyone ready to haul them away? Nope.

      2. tony2heads
        Big Brother

        re: nothing to fear

        Sorry, but my irony meter just max'ed out and bent the needle at the end stop

        So little to fear indeed that the poster stays anonymous.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cough bullSh*t Cough

      It's okay, the NSA have arranged for you to do time as well and we'll see how enthusiastic you are to call him bullshit.

    7. J__M__M

      Cough bullSh*t Cough

      Cough ReadAF*ckingBook Cough

  2. The Dude

    Not necessarily bull$hit. There is plenty of precedent for government agencies doing this sort of thing with taxes etc. In fact, here in Canada we currently have a huge scandal with mafia infiltration of the tax department, and some fun and games with that.

  3. h3

    Seems completely wrong that you can be barred from using that sort of information as part of your defence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @the dude

    I know I shouldn't laugh, but: Canada? Mafia? Now there's a combination you don't hear every day.

    1. The Dude

      Re: @the dude

      Recent revelations have shown that the Montreal Mafia are heavily involved in Quebec municipal governments, contracts, kickbacks, graft etc. and there have been several mayors and bureaucrats caught. Now, we have learned there are connections between the mafia and the federal government Canada Revenue Agency.

      Personally, I was not overly surprised to learn of the mafia infiltration of the tax department. Mafia men are a natural fit as tax collectors, being experienced in the extortion business...

    2. kain preacher

      Re: @the dude

      Here in the US we have a TV show about the Amish Mafia.

    3. Oninoshiko

      Re: @the dude

      Just goes to show you how good they are...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the usual "everyone else but me" nonsense from the 1%

    I see that a few years in the slammer did not give Nacchio sufficient time to repent his sins. Still very much of the "what sins?" mindset.

    Mr. Nacchio, a jury of your peers found you guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. You were not a Master of the Universe: you were a criminal. Get over it.

    1. sam bo

      Re: the usual "everyone else but me" nonsense from the 1%

      "Mr. Nacchio, a jury of your peers found you guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. You were not a Master of the Universe: you were a criminal. Get over it."

      Such childlike trust in the legal system (and especially the US one).

      Thankfully , no innocent person has ever had to spend time behind bars.

      I certainly hope for your sake that you don't run afoul of it.

      You would probably defend yourself , after all why waste money on a lawyer when you are innocent ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the usual "everyone else but me" nonsense from the 1%

      I like a good rip on the 1% as the next guy, but come on. The facts in his case don't even come close to showing him as an evil, out-of-touch, rich exec who thought he was above the law.


      he sold a lot of stock

      shortly after that, qwest had to re-state their outlook downward, primarily due to losing gov't contracts

      Nacchio's version of events is that he refused to allow NSA direct access to qwest facilities in the way that AT&T allowed access. In retaliation, as many contracts as possible were pulled from qwest. That is a lot of business to lose, resulting in the change in outlook. Now, we don't know for certain if his version of events is actually correct. He was not allowed to present evidence at his trial that may have proved his version.

      I would say not being allowed to use all evidence available to prove your innocence at a trial that cost him over 4 years in prison gives him a legitimate gripe. Doesn't make him a hero, but being pissed about getting rail-roaded by the NSA doesn't make him a villain either.

    3. Grogan Silver badge

      Re: the usual "everyone else but me" nonsense from the 1%

      So just because a "jury of his peers" (such sanctimonious bullshit) ruled against him, it's the final word according to the lord, your god?

      So we can always assume that juries are completely objective and even in that case, that they are not acting on false or misleading evidence? A proper jury will have no choice but to convict, when their decisions are based solely on the evidence presented. The defense cannot even mount a defense.

      That's the way the courts work, in that perverted country. It's like a game... even when it's not national security being invoked, if a defense is inadmissible, you're not even allowed to bring it up. So the judge and jury never know about all the circumstances involved. It is like a chicken before egg scenario sometimes. This is illegal, so you can't bring it before the court, therefore you have no defense and are treated like any other criminal and sentenced by the book, with a mandatory minimum penalty even though there really were circumstances to take into account.

  6. codeusirae
    Big Brother

    From the SUN school of journalism ..

    "Having entered prison looking every bit the plump-faced, well-heeled corporate exec, the 64-year-old Nacchio's body has been hardened by weightlifting and he now sports a shaved head and goatee reminiscent of Breaking Bad's Walter White."

    Good Grief, for a minute there I thought I was reading the SUN

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Open verdict

    A few years ago I might have said this was a total fantasy. These days I'm not so sure.

    How would you actually be able to tell sour grapes from a stitch-up? Especially bearing in mind that it wasn't so long ago that a man in this country spend over 20 years inside for a murder he didn't commit. The irony being that had he 'confessed' he probably would have got out quicker.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Open verdict

      > The irony being that had he 'confessed' he probably would have got out quicker.

      Hardly "irony." It seems the intention these days is to make everything so scary, its better to confess than risk a trial. That's what happens when the legislative wants to "send messages" rather than decide on what really is a reasonable punishment for a particular crime. For white-collar crime, where physical danger from the defendant is not problem, physical restraint hardly seems a good remedy.

      Plea-bargains corrupt both the legislative and the judicial process.

  8. john devoy


    It's a sad indictment of modern America and its corrupt agencies that this could actually be possible and not just the ravings of a tinfoil hat wearer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    S&P are being prosecuted, shortly after downgrading U.S. debt.

    Gallup are being prosecuted, shortly after refusing to adjust their reporting of U.S. unemployment.

    Joe Nacchio was prosecuted, shortly after refusing NSA access to Qwest's data.

    Even a renowned surgeon can be targeted by the IRS for giving a speech critical of ObamaCare in the presence of The Great One:

    P.S. The reputation managers sure do react quick to any NSA stories. Always first and second comments...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Trying to get it right this time... According to one political comedian, Iraq was invaded shortly after threatening to sell oil for euros instead of dollars. I'm not exactly sure how this works and how it would be bad for the dollar, but apparently it would, and it fits the pattern.

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    100% true

    This is 100% true, I read about it at the time. The then-CEO of Qwest was the ONLY telco head to tell the NSA "come back when you have a warrant". He pointed out that the NSAs requests were illegal and unconstitutional, and Qwest did not respond to illegal methods of requesting information. A while later, he sold some stock. A while after that, the feds dropped a large fiber optics contract that had already been awarded to Qwest, and gave it to somebody else (I think AT&T). They then tossed the CEO's ass in jail on the claim that he somehow knew ahead of time that the feds would unilaterally drop this contract and therefore was insider trading. At trial, his defense was basically nothing, as he was prohibited from bringing up any of this in trial (the usual federal claim that even information already published in the New York Times is classified and cannot be brought up in trial).

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: 100% true

      I've served on a few (US) juries, and doubt very much that an average jury would return a guilty verdict on this story. Mr. Naccio's refusal to authorize Qwest participation in the post 9/11 Bush administration wiretapping is commendable, but his sales of Qwest stock in early 2001 probably had little to do with wiretapping that the New York Times reported to have been started after 9/11.

      The Times articles, though, are interesting to read in the present context of agitation over the NSA: much of what is Simply Shocking now was, in fact, reported fairly explicitly in late 2005 and 2006. Also reported was significant concern by FISC judges, and one resignation, over whether the actions then were lawful or in compliance with the Constitution. And then, as now, the President "welcomed" discussion.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The rocky horror road to status quo systems systemic collapse/federal shutdown

    How smart does everyone/anyone with a brain that can think especially well, think it is of the likes of an NSA/GCHQ type operation to make seriously clever enemies and novel model peering contemporaries of others who think especially well and differently?

    The/A silver lining to that dark matter cloud though is that it does present a very lucrative private provision of missing intellectual property and alternative thinking opportunity to that which would be enabled and well able to supply equitable and inclusive and exclusive executive solutions to compromised and bankrupted and intellectually deficient publicly funded bodies ..... which nowadays appears to have morphed into bastard and bitching QE team terrain ...... and that is a leading inherently catastrophically weak place for fraudulent power play.

  12. Magnus_Pym

    The worying thing is ...

    ... the paranoid ravings of an obviously bitter ex-con, ex-exec, ex-millionaire and publicity seeker which would in the past be dismissed as a barrel-scraping defence of wrong doing on a major scale now sounds quite plausible.

    The first casualty of war (on terror) is the truth.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Re: The worying thing is ...

      The point I make is proven by the thread above. I don't think I've characterised him badly, he is by his own admission bitter and he is seeking publicity if only for a book deal. Agency's have been proven to have lied because they want to catch 'terrorists' and people here are thinking about the viability of this guy's claims. Claims like this should be preposterous but these days they're not. It's a sorry state of affairs.

      What's to down vote?

  13. Hayden Clark Silver badge

    He's right - but he's guilty

    It's just that everybody was at it at the time. What's "not fair" for him is that he got called out on it because he pissed off the NSA, not because he was more criminal than the other robber CEOs

  14. LoPath


    I worked for Qwest at the time. He effectively ran what was once a good company (US West) into the ground. People watched their investments go up in smoke while he "cashed out". He may have had his run-in's with the NSA, but there was plenty of other sneaky stuff going on under his watch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      At least you didn't have Ebbers ru(i)n your company like we did...

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Smoke and Fire and Brimstone, Black Kettle and Pot and Executive Admin which has Lost the Plot

    Hi, Neil and El Regers,

    Considering the comments and the tale which be told and shared here, the following quoted text is hardly alarming and surely to be reasonably expected and thought long overdue for activation and implementation. In extremis are requirements quite drastic but needs must in such cases which do not value lives methinks.

    Date: October 1, 2013 9:28:07 AM PDT

    From: "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <shap[at]>

    Subject: Cost and Responsibility for Snowden's Breaches


    "It becomes clear that the damage to *us* was far worse than any cost to the terrorists. In fact, the damage is proportional to your dependence on electronic infrastructure.

    That's bad. Because it means that people inside our government, at the direction of government officials, sworn to protect and defend the constitution and the country, actively conspired to undermine every segment of the United States along with our key allies. While the run-of-the-mill staff may not have understood this, the more senior people at NSA knew what they were doing. They were certainly told by people on the outside often enough.

    Frankly, I think some of them should hang. And I mean that literally. These decisions by NSA weren't made by extremist muslims. They were made by people from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (and elsewhere) right here in America."

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