< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: More Spying by the NSA Revealed

Thursday, May 11, 2006

More Spying by the NSA Revealed

The USA Today reports:

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.

Among the big telecommunications companies, only Qwest has refused to help the NSA, the sources said. According to multiple sources, Qwest declined to participate because it was uneasy about the legal implications of handing over customer information to the government without warrants.

Qwest's refusal to participate has left the NSA with a hole in its database. Based in Denver, Qwest provides local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states in the West and Northwest. But AT&T and Verizon also provide some services — primarily long-distance and wireless — to people who live in Qwest's region. Therefore, they can provide the NSA with at least some access in that area.

Members of both parties have raised objections to this program and it seems as though this will cause even more problems for the Bush administration and their nomination of General Hayden as CIA director. In addition, this revelation raises even more serious constitutional questions, as the collection of these phone calls was done without a warrant. Bush's argument has always been that the NSA is spying on people with connections to terrorism, but this program targets ordinary Americans, not suspected of any wrong doing. I think this is only the beginning, as more secret programs may arise in the future.

To read the original USA Today story, click here.

--Tom Hayes


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