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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Database grows by billions of calls per day.

The leaks keep coming, although this time it's perfectly legal. According to NBC News and the New York Times, The Drug Enforcement Agency has run a project codenamed Hemisphere which has aggregated AT&T phone records going back to 1987.

The DEA database goes back at least as far back as these.

The DEA database goes back at least as far back as these.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: database, DEA, NSA, calls, records, Constitution, oversight, judicial


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to records shared with the New York Times, AT&T has embedded staff assisting the DEA in sharing records of phone calls and collecting logs of phone calls, which grow longer by billions each day.

According to the NYT, the DEA database is even larger than the one maintained by the NSA and goes back to 1987. Project Hemisphere has been in operation for six years.

Drew Hendricks, an activist, obtained the information on Project Hemisphere via public information requests to West Coast police departments. Among the information he received was a PowerPoint slideshow that was not classified and described the program.

The presentation admonishes that Hemisphere is not to be mentioned in any official document.

According to the findings, AT&T maintains the database, which is different from the NSA, which maintains their own database. Government agents working drug cases, must then file a subpoena with AT&T for access to specific records.

This is a key difference because transparent and genuine judicial oversight exists to protect the privacy of Americans, unlike the NSA's programs. The database is also a call log, and does not record the content of the calls, only that a call was made.

No other phone company has been mentioned or admits to working with the DEA, however it is probable that they do.

According to NBC, the database allows the DEA to monitor, among other things, the use of "burner phones," which are prepaid cell phones that traffickers use only once then throw away to prevent tracing calls.

This revelation demonstrates at least two significant things. The first is that the government has been monitoring our communications far longer than expected, possibly as far back as 1987. The second is that the government can access records and track criminals without violating the Constitutional rights of citizens.

If we are going to tolerate a database the government can access, it should only be one with proper and transparent civilian oversight.

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