Skip to main content /TECH with /TECH

Feds enlist ISPs in terrorist probe

By Richard Stenger

(CNN) -- Major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States said Thursday they are cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington.

The FBI served EarthLink with a search warrant to gather electronic information relating to national security, said Dan Greenfield, spokesperson for the Atlanta, Georgia-based ISP.

"We received on Tuesday an FISA order," said Greenfield, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which provides guidelines for certain kinds of secret investigations of the FBI, CIA, the National Security Agency and a handful of other federal organizations.

"You cannot necessarily make the assumption that it was around events on Tuesday," Greenfield added. "We are cooperating with the FBI and other officials on any assistance they need," he said, declining to elaborate.

Representatives of many top ISPs said that their companies had been working with U.S. authorities in the wake of the hijackings and air assault Tuesday. But none gave any specifics.

Attack on America
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

"We have been approached by investigators. We did cooperate and provided information that was requested," said Nicholas Graham, a spokesperson for America Online, based in Dulles, Virginia.

"We routinely cooperate with authorities, from the local to the state to the national level. This investigation is no different," he said.

Alison Bowan of Excite@Home said that the Redwood City, California-based ISP was been in contact with federal law enforcement agents.

"I can't elaborate on which branch. We are cooperating fully based on the law on our policies," she said.

Use of 'Carnivore?

Greenfield said EarthLink did not install any so-called "Carnivore" boxes on its servers, which the FBI uses to monitor electronic correspondences of suspected criminals.

Likewise, other ISPs said that they did not use the Carnivore system. Greenfield and other ISP reps hastened to add that their companies were adhering to internal guidelines that protect the privacy of their subscribers.

The FBI, as is its custom, declined to confirm or comment on the investigation. But one U.S. government official said that they "were not ruling out any legal investigative techniques right now."

Early Tuesday, hijackers took control of four commercial airliners. Within the span of an hour, two crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers, one slammed into the headquarters of the U.S. military, and another went down in rural Pennsylvania. Some believe that the last aircraft had an intended target in Washington, D.C.

Federal authorities said Thursday that they had identified at least 18 people who took part in the hijackings, some from Arab nations in the Middle East.

• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• Excite@Home
• EarthLink
• Yahoo!

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


Back to the top