DEA's vast surveillance of Americans' phone communications dwarfs NSA's

In case you missed it, the latest domestic spying bombshell: At the New York Times, Scott Shane and Colin Moynihan report that for the past six years, at least, "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. The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.
Peace activist Drew Hendricks received the information on Hemisphere in response to FOIA requests, and he provided the 27-slide PowerPoint presentation to the Times. The slides were marked "law enforcement sensitive," indicating the program was considered secret; even the name of the project, according to one slide, must not be revealed.

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