The Senate Intelligence Committee is examining allegations by two former US military linguists that the super-secret National Security Agency routinely eavesdropped on the private telephone calls of American military officers, journalists and aid workers.
NSA interceptors purportedly shared some intercepts of highly personal conversations, including “phone sex.”
If the allegations are true, they could re-ignite a political firestorm over the administrations post-Sept. 11 eavesdropping operations and its efforts to collect vast quantities of data about American’s tax, medical and travel records; credit card purchases; e-mails and other information.
… Bush and other senior officials have repeatedly asserted that after the Sept. 11 attacks; the NSA only monitored the private communications of Americans who were suspected of links to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups without court orders.
The allegations follow the release Tuesday of a study by a government advisory group that questions how useful communications intercepts and another technique known as data mining are at ferreting out terrorist plots.
“The information sought by analysts must be filtered out of the huge quantity of data available the needle in the haystack problem,” says [the] two-year, 352-page study by the National Research Council for the Department of Homeland Security. “Terrorist groups will make calculated efforts to conceal their identity and mask their behaviors, and will use various strategies such as encryption, code words, and multiple identities to obfuscate the data they are generating and exchanging,” the report says.
“Even under the pressure of threats as serious as terrorism, the privacy rights and civil liberties that are the cherished core values of our nation must not be destroyed,” the report warns.
via Miami Herald: Did US govt eavescrop on Americans phone calls?