Revelations about massive NSA monitoring program set off alarms with U.S. senators
May 11, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today called for an immediate congressional investigation in the wake of new revelations that the National Security Agency has been amassing information from phone companies about the calls of tens of millions of Americans.
The Florida senator said he wants to know, among other things, how and why phone companies voluntarily turned over to the NSA detailed records of calls their customers reportedly made to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others. “We must make sure our country is secure,” Nelson said, “but we must also protect our privacy.”
Nelson, in a letter, asked Sen. Ted Stevens, the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to hold immediate hearings - closed if necessary - to take testimony from phone company executives who reportedly provided such data to determine whether consumers’ privacy rights have been violated.
Nelson, D-FL, is a member of the Commerce Committee that oversees the telecommunications industry; and, is an outspoken advocate of protecting individuals from unwarranted intrusion by government and business.
Meantime Thursday, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he intends to call executives of the phone companies before his panel as well.
It was USA TODAY that disclosed in its Thursday editions that the NSA has been compiling a comprehensive database of phone calls in the U.S. – a program far more expansive than anything the White House previously has acknowledged. Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper said the NSA program is aimed at creating “a database of every call ever made” by anyone within U.S. borders. The newspaper also said three telecommunications companies working under contract with the NSA launched the domestic-call tracking program in 2001.