“In other words, one end of the communication must be outside the United States.”
President George W. Bush, on the NSA phone monitoring program
USA Today is reporting that the NSA phone monitoring is far broader than previously acknowledged. Apparently AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth have been, since just after September 11, 2001, complicit in permitting the NSA to create a massive database — possibly the largest database, ever — of phone calls made inside the country (despite the Administration’s consistent reassurances that one end of any monitored phone call is outside the country) for the purpose of attempting to identify terrorist activity by calling patterns. While no voices were recorded, and no customer names and addresses exist in this database, it’s hardly trivial to pin the gathered phone numbers to a person. The same article also reports that the three companies were paid by the NSA to provide this information. More interestingly enough, Qwest Telecom refused to join the program, because of fears over fines and privacy concerns. Bravo.
I’m just starting to wonder what would happen if General Hayden is confirmed as the CIA head. CIA agents working domestically to gather intelligence, much as they would do overseas? We probably already have that too.
Needless to say, I smell a giant lawsuit against these three companies for a gross and willful invasion of privacy. The Fourth Amendment is still valid in the Constitution, right? Or was repealing the 4th yet another secret clause in the “Patriot” Act that no one read? You just can’t make this stuff up anymore. Orwell would be shocked. I, for one, am pretty disgusted.