Lawmakers Confirm NSA Spying Program

June 30, 2006 12:00 am

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ACLU Renews Call for Congress, FCC and State Officials to “Get to the Bottom of It”

WASHINGTON – USA Today reported today that fully 19 members of Congress have confirmed that the National Security Agency has built a massive database of American phone records for the purpose of monitoring American calling patterns. USA Today is also reporting that five of those lawmakers have confirmed that AT&T has participated in the program and stated that BellSouth did not. Three lawmakers stated that Verizon did not participate in the program but its subsidiary, MCI, did.

The following can be attributed to Christopher Calabrese, Legal Counsel to the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project:

“Regardless of the details of which companies may or may not have participated, the fact remains: telecommunications companies are letting the NSA watch over the telephone calling patterns of masses of innocent Americans, in clear violation of the law.

“This Administration needs to come out right now and tell the American people what is really going on – and if they don’t, Congress needs to force them to. The Federal Communication Commission and state officials also need to act. That is why the ACLU has called on the FCC and Public Utility Commissions in 22 states to investigate the entire telecommunications industry and to get to the bottom of this scandal. We will continue to push for full accountability on this matter.

“Instead of providing explanations, the federal government is stonewalling – moving recently to attempt to end an inquiry by the New Jersey Attorney General, illegitimately invoking the infamous “state secrets privilege” to try to block an investigation.

“Why should Americans be kept guessing about the extent to which their communications are being spied on by the government? Why should all of us have to rely on newspaper reports, shadowy sources, hunches, and conjecture? The American people have a right to know what is going on here. The government has a right to keep particular investigations secret but it does not have a right to keep overall surveillance policies that apply to everyone secret. Those must be democratically debated and decided upon.”

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