24 June 2006
The AT&T Bridgeton Network Operations Center has been reported as a central source for worldwide telecommunications data to US intelligence:
In a pivotal network operations center in metropolitan St. Louis, AT&T has maintained a secret, highly secured room since 2002 where government work is being conducted, according to two former AT&T workers once employed at the center.
In interviews with Salon, the former AT&T workers said that only government officials or AT&T employees with top-secret security clearance are admitted to the room, located inside AT&T's facility in Bridgeton. The room's tight security includes a biometric "mantrap" or highly sophisticated double door, secured with retinal and fingerprint scanners. The former workers say company supervisors told them that employees working inside the room were "monitoring network traffic" and that the room was being used by "a government agency."
The details provided by the two former workers about the Bridgeton room bear the distinctive earmarks of an operation run by the National Security Agency, according to two intelligence experts with extensive knowledge of the NSA and its operations.
The company's Bridgeton network operations center, where approximately 100 people work, is located inside a one-story brick building with a small two-story addition connected to it. The building shares a parking lot with a commercial business and is near an interstate highway.
According to the two former workers, the secret room is an internal structure measuring roughly 20 feet by 40 feet, and was previously used by employees of the company's WorldNet division. In spring 2002, they said, the company moved WorldNet employees to a different part of the building and sealed up the room, plastering over the window openings and installing steel double doors with no handles for moving equipment in and out of the room. The company then installed the high-tech mantrap, which has opaque Plexiglas-like doors that prevent anyone outside the room from seeing clearly into the mantrap chamber, or the room beyond it. Both former workers say the mantrap drew attention from employees for being so high-tech.
The AT&T Easylink Service is located at 12976 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton, MO:
A T & T Easylink Service
12976 Hollenberg Dr
Bridgeton, MO 63044-2407
The facility is named AT&T Easylink Service after its predecessor owner, Western Union EasyLink:
Today, the host site for (the former Western Union) EasyLink and most of its related services is Bridgeton, MO. AT&T Mail is in the process of moving there from South Plainfield, NJ, as part of the merger of Western Union Telex/EasyLink and AT&T Global Messaging into AT&T EasyLink Services.
Western Union Financial Center, where worldwide telegram financial transactions are handled, is located next door at 13022 Hollenberg Drive:
Western Union has experienced consistent growth since it opened its Customer Service Center in 1972 at 13022 Hollenberg Drive, Bridgeton with fewer than 100 employees. The Bridgeton center now employs about 900 people and handles more than four million telephone calls per month. Experiencing rapid growth, the company's worldwide money transfer service grew from 35 million to 48 million transactions in 1997 alone.
Western Union has covertly provided telecommunications data to the US Government since the US Civil War.
Western Union is a subsidiary of First Data Corporation which filed a Western Union spin-off notice with the SEC on June 9, 2006. First Data has been been reported as providing access to worldwide customer data to US intelligence since shortly after September 11, 2001:
First Data Corp., the world's largest processor of credit-card transactions and wire transfers, gave the FBI and CIA unfettered access to data on millions of customers shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a new book alleges.
First Data's computer systems served as the "FBI's own in-house search engine," and the CIA was allowed to monitor money-wire transactions in real time, according to "The One Percent Doctrine" by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind.
Greenwood Village-based First Data and its money-transfer subsidiary Western Union declined to answer questions from The Denver Post but issued a joint statement.
"We have not worked with Mr. Suskind nor had the opportunity to read his book," the statement said. "Both companies support and adhere to all laws related to financial information and provide information to law enforcement agencies only in response to subpoenas and other lawful requests."