UPDATE: The phone companies were NOT required to turn over our records - Qwest refused - but AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth gave the Mein Kampf salute. Pigs.
Remember that little canard about making sure a terrorist was on one end of the line, and making sure it was an international call?
Not so much. In fact, the government's goal is to get every phone record in the country - we're talking a record of every phone call you ever make or receive.
I'm going to say it again. Encrypt your emails NOW:
- Encrypting Mac emails
- Encrypting Windows emails
More from USA Today
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.And as I noted, Bush lied to us about the program. It's far worse than he promised.
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.
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.
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 NSA's domestic program, as described by sources, is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, Bush said he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on international calls and international e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists when one party to the communication is in the USA. Warrants have also not been used in the NSA's efforts to create a national call database.
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."
As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans.