Doesn't this scare you?
From today's Democracy Now broadcast:
Three Major Telecom Companies Help U.S. Government Spy on Millions of Americans
USA Today has revealed the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. One source told the paper that the NSA is attempting to create the world's largest database — big enough to include every call ever made within the nation's borders.
USA Today has revealed the National Security Agency is secretly collecting the phone call records of millions of Americans with the help of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. One source told the paper that the NSA is attempting to create the world’s largest database — big enough to include every call ever made within the nation’s borders.
This spy program is far more expansive than what the White House has acknowledged. Last year, President Bush admitted he had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop — without warrants — on calls and e-mails of people suspected of having links to terrorists.
On Thursday, President Bush discussed the NSA’s spy operations but did not directly address the report in USA Today that the NSA was creating a database of phone call records.
President Bush: Today there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America. I want to make some important points about what the government is doing, and what the government is not doing. First, our intelligence activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of congress, both Republican and Democrat. Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.
On Capitol Hill, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter — Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — announced he would call officials from AT&T, Verizon and Bell South to appear before the panel for questioning. Meanwhile there have been a number of other developments about the NSA's spy program.
On Wednesday the Justice Department announced it had to close an investigation into the NSA's domestic spy program because the NSA had refused to grant investigators security clearances.
On Monday, President Bush nominated General Michael Hayden to become the next director of the CIA. Hayden was the head of the NSA in 2001 when President Bush ordered the agency to begin warrant-less spying of Americans.
General Hayden spoke with reporters yesterday about the NSA spying program.
Michael Hayden: Everything that NSA done is lawful and carefully done and the appropriate members of congress, the house and senate are briefed on all NSA activities and I will just leave it at that.
But the NSA spy program is even being criticized by former top NSA officials. On Monday the agency's former Director Bobby Ray Inman said “this activity is not authorized.”
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