WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 – Congressional officials said Saturday that they wanted to investigate the disclosure that the National Security Agency had gained access to some of the country’s main telephone arteries to glean data on possible terrorists.
“As far as Congressional investigations are concerned,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, “these new revelations can only multiply and intensify the growing list of questions and concerns about the warrantless surveillance of Americans.”
Members of the Judiciary Committee have already indicated that they intend to conduct oversight hearings into the president’s legal authority to order domestic eavesdropping on terrorist suspects without a warrant.
But Congressional officials said Saturday that they would probably seek to expand the review to include the disclosure that the security agency, using its access to giant phone “switches,” had also traced and analyzed phone and Internet traffic in much larger volumes than what the Bush administration had acknowledged.
To anyone in the phone business this has to make them think WTF? It has been common knowledge that the NSA monitored all international phone calls for years. They started doing that as soon as it became technically feasible, long before Bush was President. I remember reading an Insight magazine article in the 1990s detailing how the Echelon system was gathering all this data and mining it for mentions of “bombs” and other key words. The article talked about how the restrictions on spying on American were evaded by having the Canadian Intelligence do the monitoring of U.S. citizens and vice versa. This was during the period that Clinton was President. None of the “mainstream” media seemed to be interested at that time.