Thursday, May 11, 2006

200 Million US phone numbers being analyzed by government spy agencies

USA Today reveals that since 2001, the three biggest telephone companies have turned over ALL of their records of phone calls made by their customers to the National Security Agency (NSA). The justification asserted by the government, of course, is "national security."

Qwest Communications did not go along with the request questioning the legality of the government's request.

In a paragraph deep in the USA Today story discussing Qwest's objections, it is revealed that domestic law enforcement agencies would have access to the data and the analysis of the data:

The NSA told Qwest that other government agencies, including the FBI, CIA and DEA, also might have access to the database, the sources said. As a matter of practice, the NSA regularly shares its information — known as "product" in intelligence circles — with other intelligence groups. Even so, Qwest's lawyers were troubled by the expansiveness of the NSA request, the sources said.
Qwest asked the NSA to either get authorization from the FISA court -- the court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to grant legal authority for surveillance -- or obtain a letter from the Attorney General certifying the legality of the disclosure of all this customer information. The NSA refused!

This administration has a shocking aversion to getting legal permission for its national security operations.

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