Move over NSA, you have some competition for flagrantly violating the Constitution. Remember that extremely dubious program called imprison racial minorities and fund illegal wars around the globe the War on Drugs? Apparently while the War on Terror has justified letting Afghanistan become the largest producer of opium in the world, the powers-that-be still want a massive police state here at home to combat the evils of illegal drug use. You know, drugs like heroin that are being produced from the opium flooding out of Afghanistan.
For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.
The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant.
Reach out and bug someone.
The Hemisphere Project takes the word dragnet to a whole new level – indiscriminate and wide ranging collection.
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. The N.S.A. stores the data for nearly all calls in the United States, including phone numbers and time and duration of calls, for five years.
Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day, the slides say; technical specialists say a single call may generate more than one record. Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.
Yes, every call. It’s Big Business and Big Government working together, what a system.
Of course there still is that little issue of the law. According to the report, AT&T employees were “embedded” with drug units in at least three states. The phone data is held by AT&T and not the government, which would seem to insulate government agents from illegal search claims. However, what is AT&T’s power to spy on citizens? And if the program was paid for by the DEA and the White House drug policy office then who is really in charge? Who is responsible?
Does anyone even know anymore?