Thursday, May 11, 2006

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

Cross posted at Liberty Zone.

It's certainly unsurprising. Nor does it bother me personally -- as in "Ooooh, I've got something to hide from the gooberment!" No. Nothing like that. It just amazes me that we have come so far on the path to a police state, and no one is blinking an eye.

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

But of course, it's all in the name of the War on Terror!

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, the same one whom President Bush tapped to head the CIA, was in charge of the NSA from March 1999 to April 2005. Hmmmm. Given his limited understanding -- or willful ignorance of -- the Constitution, this shouldn't surprise anyone.


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