"AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp. telephone companies began turning over records of tens of millions of their customers' phone calls to the NSA program shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, said USA Today, citing anonymous sources it said had direct knowledge of the arrangement."
"tens of millions "
If that's not data mining I don't know what is. plk
Congress Demands Phone Records Answers on Yahoo! News
By LAURIE KELLMAN and DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press Writer
Read the entire article at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060511/ap_on_go_pr_wh/nsa_phone_records_23
Lawmakers demanded answers from the Bush administration Thursday about a spy agency secretly collecting records of millions of ordinary Americans' phone calls to build a database of all calls within the country.
"The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval," said Bush, without confirming the program of the National Security Agency.
The disclosure, reported in USA Today, could complicate Bush's bid to win confirmation of former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden as CIA director.
It also reignited concerns about privacy rights and touched off questions about the legal underpinnings for the government's actions and the diligence of the Republican-controlled Congress' oversight of a GOP administration.
"Everything that NSA does is lawful and very carefully done," Hayden said while making rounds at the Capitol to advocate for his confirmation.
"The appropriate members of the Congress --- the House and Senate --- are briefed on all NSA activities."
The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said he was shocked by the reported activities.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would call the phone companies to appear before the panel in pursuit of what had transpired.
"We're really flying blind on the subject and that's not a good way to approach the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional issues involving privacy," Specter said of domestic surveillance in general.
The companies said Thursday they were protecting customers' privacy but also had an obligation to assist law enforcement and government agencies in ensuring the nation's security.
In January, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group devoted to preserving privacy in digital media, alleged in a federal lawsuit that AT&T Inc. had given the NSA direct access to the records of the more than 300 million domestic and international calls and the huge volume of Internet data traffic.
AT&T Inc. includes the AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications, Inc.
On Capitol Hill, several lawmakers expressed incredulity about the program, with some Republicans questioning the rationale and several Democrats railing about a lack of congressional oversight.
Associated Press Writers Laurie Kellman, Elizabeth White, Mark Sherman and Jim Abrams in Washington and AP Business Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York contributed to this report.
Summarized by Copernic Summarizer