It seemed improbable that today’s bombshell report from The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald about the National Security Agency seizing the phone records of every Verizon cell phone customer was something limited to just one carrier. The USA Today reported in 2006 that, according to their own sources, the same thing is going on with AT&T and BellSouth.
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 story gets more disturbing by the minute.
The primary pushback I am hearing from Democrats, their media, and even some Republicans is that this is the seizure of meta-data. That, however, is nothing but spin. From this so-called meta-data, the NSA can not only profile you, but track your whereabouts via cell phone towers:
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 three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
It’s hard to imagine that we are done learning about the number of carriers involved. Sprint handles my cell phone business, and more than once I could’ve sworn I heard the sound of someone chewing Nicorette listening in.
This story has been updated to clarify that the USA Today story is from 2006.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC