NSA 'Routinely' Listened in on Americans' Phone Calls, Passed Around 'Salacious' Bits
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Ever since President Bush confirmed the existence of a National Security Administration wiretapping program in late 2005, he has insisted it is aimed only at terrorists' calls and protects Americans' civil liberties:
- If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why. ... In the meantime, this program is conscious of people's civil liberties, as am I. This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America -- and I repeat: limited. [ 1/1/06]
- This is a -- I repeat to you, even though you hear words, "domestic spying," these are not phone calls within the United States. It's a phone call of an al Qaeda, known al Qaeda suspect, making a phone call into the United States. I'm mindful of your civil liberties. [ 1/23/06]
- People who analyze the program fully understand that America's civil liberties are well protected. There is a constant check to make sure that our civil liberties of our citizens are treated with respect. [ 2/28/08]
However, ABC News reports that the NSA frequently listened to and transcribed the private phone calls of Americans abroad, according to two former military intercept operators. These conversations included those of American soldiers stationed in Iraq and American aid workers abroad, such as Doctors Without Borders:
Ali Frick is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.