USA Today reports NSA obtained call logs from communications companies

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Friday, May 12, 2006

American newspaper USA Today reported on Thursday that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) collected millions of call logs from telecommunications companies in 2001. The report comes almost four months after a previous NSA controversy involving the monitoring of international calls placed within the United States.

Members of Congress called for answers from the government about the report detailing the agency's collection of records from telecommunications companies of American phone calls.

The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said that he was very shocked about the NSA revelation. "It is our government, it's not one party's government. It's America's government. Those entrusted with great power have a duty to answer to Americans what they are doing," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

AT&T, Verizon Communications, and BellSouth, three major telecommunications companies in the United States, began releasing logs of millions of phone calls to the NSA shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to the USA Today report.

Earlier this year, the New York Times released a report stating that the NSA had been monitoring certain phone calls placed between the United States and other countries. Nominated CIA director Michael Hayden commented on the NSA program on January 23, 2006, stating: "The purpose of all this is not to collect reams of intelligence, but to detect and prevent attacks." Hayden was the head of the NSA during the programs' durations.

President George W. Bush assured Americans that their privacy is being "fiercely protected." "We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans," commented Bush after leaving for a commencement address at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi.

According to the report, the information released by the telecommunications companies does not detail the content of the calls. The identities of those that placed and received the calls were recorded.

The Supreme Court of the United States has previously ruled that logs of numbers dialed are not considered 'private' because they are being communicated to the telephone company.