DEA: ‘All Your Calls Are Belong To Us’

Well, this sure makes the Patriot Act seem quaint.

On Monday, the New York Times revealed that since 2007 the DEA and other drug law enforcement officials have had routine access to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of most Americans’ phone calls. The secretive, previously-undisclosed “Hemisphere Project” covers a much longer time – 26 years! – than even the National Security Agency’s recently-disclosed collection of phone call logs, which store data on nearly all Americans’ phone calls for “just” five years. And unlike the NSA, the Hemisphere Project records data about the location of callers, rather than just phone numbers and time and duration of calls.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of President Nixon’s establishment of the DEA. With an annual budget of more than $2.4 billion – not to mention 227 field offices and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries – the DEA certainly merits a top-to-bottom review of its operations, expenditures and discretionary actions.

According to the Times:

The project comes to light at a time of vigorous public debate over the proper limits on government surveillance and on the relationship between government agencies and communications companies. It offers the most significant look to date at the use of such large-scale data for law enforcement, rather than for national security.

The scale and longevity of the data storage appears to be unmatched by other government programs, including the N.S.A.’s gathering of phone call logs under the Patriot Act.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.