The New York Times has revealed the Drug Enforcement Administration has an even more extensive collection of U.S. phone records than the National Security Agency.
Under a secretive DEA program called the Hemisphere Project, the agency has access to records of every phone call transmitted via AT&T’s infrastructure dating back to 1987.
That period covers an even longer stretch of time than the NSA’s collection of phone records, which started under President George W. Bush. Each day, some four billion call records are swept into the database, which is stored by AT&T. The U.S. government then pays for AT&T employees to station themselves inside DEA units, where they can quickly hand over records after agents obtain an administrative subpoena. The DEA says the collection allows it to catch drug dealers who frequently switch phones, but civil liberties advocates say it raises major privacy concerns. We speak with Scott Shane, national security reporter for The New York Times and co-author of the report, “Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing NSA’s.”
Read the transcript from Democracy Now!.