In case there were any doubts about AT&T’s role in government spying, let them be dispelled now. Turns out that a mysterious building in New York City known as the AT&T Long Lines Building was actually one of the National Security Agency’s most valuable assets and was involved in mass surveillance programs, according to a report from The Intercept.
The building, which is located at 33 Thomas Street, is made up of 29 floors and has three underground levels. It was built between 1969 and 1974, and was simply referred to as Project X during its planning phase. It was designed to be able to house enough food for a “self-sustained city” of 1,500 people in case of a worst-case scenario during the Cold War.
According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the building is referred to by the NSA as Titanpointe, and the employees inside it played a key role in a program that goes by the name of Blarney. which involved tapping into communications of the United Nations, the World Bank, and as many as 38 countries — some of which are allies of the U.S., like Japan, Germany, and France.
Among the leaked NSA documents are a few references to the building and AT&T. One document from 2011 is a guide to Blarney, while another document, dated from 2013, refers to a partner code-named “Lithium” — that’s the NSA’s name for AT&T. In the documents, employees were instructed on how to buzz in to the building, sign in, and meet an escort.
Blarney wasn’t the only program conducted from the building — another one, called Skidrowe, allegedly focused on looking at internet data. AT&T, however, denied that the government had direct access to AT&T networks.
“Rather, we simply respond to government requests for information pursuant to court orders or other mandatory process and, in rare cases, on a legal and voluntary basis when a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence, like in a kidnapping situation,” said AT&T spokesperson Fletcher Cook in an interview with The Intercept.