[JURIST] The National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] has been collecting phone records from major telephone companies AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth [corporate websites] to study the calling patterns of millions of Americans in an effort to detect terrorist activity, according to a report [text] from USA Today on Thursday. Although the NSA is not recording or eavesdropping on telephone conversations, the agency has data on millions of domestic calls from individuals and businesses with no suspected ties to terrorism. One source told USA Today that the ultimate goal of the program is "to create a database of every call ever made" domestically.
The NSA's warrantless domestic wiretapping program [JURIST news archive] has been a contentious issue since it was first exposed [JURIST report] in December 2005. Responding to criticism of his testimony on the surveillance program and a letter [PDF text] sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] in March claimed that the administration is not conducting any surveillance [JURIST report] beyond what was already acknowledged. President Bush's nominee for CIA director [JURIST report], former NSA director General Michael Hayden [official profile], has suggested [JURIST report] that he might welcome a modification to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [text] to bring the wiretapping surveillance program under its scope of authority. Reuters has more.