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NSA Colluded with AT&T, Verizon & Bell South to Track Tens of Millions of Domestic Phone Calls

Reported by Marie Therese - May 11, 2006

This morning the FOX & Friends trio discussed revelations made in USA Today which claim that, since 9-11, the National Security Agency (NSA) has collected "the largest database in the history of planet earth." It would seem that President Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied when they said the NSA domestic spying program was limited only to suspected terrorists making overseas calls! After making a snide comment about the person who leaked the information, host Steve Doocy and his cohorts E. D. Hill and Brian Kilmeade spent the next two minutes trying to assure FOX News viewers that everything was just fine and no one was listening in on their personal phone calls. It was clear from their comments that the word from FOX Central was to poor-mouth the leaker thus making it seem that "someone" had it "in" for Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush's nominee to the post of CIA Director. Transcript follows.

STEVE DOOCY: What's on the database? Every single phone call you have made since 9-11 - every single one! We're not talkin' about when you called abroad. We're talking about if you call a relative, a family member, a friend, anybody, it has been gathered, if you have phone service from AT&T, Verizon or Bell South. [Note: AT&T now includes SBC.]

E. D. HILL: But no one has listened in on those phone calls. They have not given your name or your location or any other personal information. Simply, what phone numbers call what other phone numbers in the United States and they say this is - it's not domestic surveillance without court approval. It is specifically aimed at identifying and tracking - tracking suspected terrorists.

DOOCY: Um-hmm.

KILMEADE: So, but they didn't get Qwest and Qwest is in fourteen states and about fourteen million people so they're not gonna be logged. But this is someone, perhaps, [who] is against Michael Hayden because Michael Hayden would be somebody ...

DOOCY: The leaker.

BRIAN KILMEADE: ... General Michael Hayden would be - the leaker would be - would be someone who would be - know all about this and would not say this publicly but now they want to, perhaps, show "OK, this guy has got secret programs that he's overseeing, do we want him in charge of the CIA?"

HILL: But they're secret programs - not - not - not thanks to USA Today, though

KILMEADE: Not any more.

HILL: So, but what they're trying - and this is the interesting thing - as you read this article in USA Today, you're gonna get the impression that what they're doing, really, is - is listening in on your phone calls and that they know who you are, who you're calling, all that stuff. It's not. Read the whole article very carefully. Here's what's basically going on.

DOOCY: Um-hmm.

HILL: They're tracking phone numbers. They - the phone system says area code [such and such] called area code [such and such]. That's it. No phone. They don't listen in. Absolutely nothing else.

DOOCY: Now think about this. I have always assumed that there was that record at the phone company and how many times have you heard in court cases where ...

HILL: Well, they do have that, because they pull it up.

DOOCY: ... absolutely but in court cases you know somebody [will say] "You know, I'm gonna get those rec - the phone records" ...

HILL: Right!

DOOCY: In this instance what's happening is the government simply is amassing all of these phone numbers with the cooperation of those three big phone companies. Qwest was a little queasy on it because they said "We don't know if there could be some customer ramifications so we're not going to be a part of it."

(Doocy could not bring himself to reveal that the management team at Qwest refused to cooperate because they believed they would be in violation of the law. They wanted a warrant or a FISA approval before handing over the records. USA Today points out that the three participating companies received financial remuneration for their cooperation, a fact that the FOX viewers never heard.)

DOOCY: But it - do you have a problem with that, if the government knows that that phone number called that phone number at a certain time, if nobody listened in on the conversation?

KILMEADE: Right. So that it ...

HILL: But they did it after the fact. Because nobody - it's just the numbers.

KILMEADE: Oh, and by the way, I have an unimpeachable source that talks about the NSA wiretapping thing and everyone says, including Judge Napolitano. He's like "Don't worry the FISA court they can give you immediate answers anytime. This emergency court, you wanna listen in on these calls and the NSA did not have to go ahead and have these domestic surveillance programs that the President talked about. Someone who's said that someone [they] know personally [says] it has taken 51/2 months, when they called this FISA court, in two separate circumstances. to get the OK to tap someone's line and that was part of the reason why the President we gotta find a way to get around the FISA court.

COMMENT

To read the report go to USA TODAY.

FOX News Live host Jon Scott then interviewed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on this topic.

Graham was not sending out signals that boded well for the White House. He said he was "skeptical" and could see no reason why the government would need to keep a record of every phone call ever made in the United States just because there might be some small possibility that someone somewhere might be making a long distance call to a terrorist.


For those of you who are Qwest customers, here's their contact information if you'd like to drop them a line thanking them for declining to participate in this program:

Corporate.Compliance@qwest.com

In addition, the rest of us might like to shoot off a nasty note to the other guys.

AT&T Online Form

brent.fowler@bellsouth.com (Brent Fowler is the Corporate Communications Manager)

Verizon Online Form

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