As Congress prepares new guidelines for the NSA's domestic spying program, US lawmakers are leaving untouched a wide array of government programs which also perform surveillance on Americans:
These programs - most of them highly classified - are run by an alphabet soup of federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies. They sift, store and analyze the communications, spending habits and travel patterns of U.S. citizens, searching for suspicious activity.
The surveillance includes data-mining programs that allow the NSA and the FBI to sift through large databanks of e-mails, phone calls and other communications, not for selective information, but in search of suspicious patterns.
Other information, like routine bank transactions, is kept in databases similarly monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency.
"There's virtually no branch of the U.S. government that isn't in some way involved in monitoring or surveillance," said Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian and fellow at the National Security Archives at The George Washington University. "We're operating in a brave new world."
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