In May 2006, USA Today reported that the National Security Agency, under then-CIA Nominee Gen. Michael Hayden's leadership, had, since 9/11, secretly collected tens of millions of phone call records from the nation's three largest telephone companies -- Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth. Jeffrey Brown held this conversation on May 12, 2006 about the government's alleged data collection program.
"It's the largest database ever assembled in the world," said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA's activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency's goal is "to create a database of every call ever made" within the nation's borders, this person added.
For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.
The three telecommunications companies are working under contract with the NSA, which launched the program in 2001 shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the sources said. The program is aimed at identifying and tracking suspected terrorists, they said.
The sources would talk only under a guarantee of anonymity because the NSA program is secret.
''The intelligence activities undertaken by the United States government are lawful, necessary and required to protect Americans from terrorist attacks,'' said Dana Perino(2006), the deputy White House press secretary, who added that appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on intelligence activities.