Should telecom companies that helped the National Security Agency wiretap consumers without warrants receive retroactive immunity for their actions? Last Friday, the House voted “No” in its first secret session in 25 years. The Senate, which already passed a bill supporting legal immunity for phone companies, will revisit the debate next month after a break. The White House called the House vote “a significant step backward in defending our country against terrorism.”

PBS NOW sheds some light on the debate by interviewing whistleblower Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who witnessed the company’s data-gathering firsthand:

Klein tells David Brancaccio about the “secret room” set up by the National Security Agency inside his AT&T office in San Francisco. He also describes in remarkable detail—with documents to back him up—how wires were split and extra equipment was brought in to essentially suck up and store emails from all over the country. Klein claims this activity is a violation of the Fourth Amendment, yet the White House continues to press Congress not only for authorization to continue surveillance but also for legal immunity for cooperating telecom companies.

>> Watch the interview on NOW.

Carrie Ching

Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.