Washington, April 9, 2015: The U.S. government started collecting and keeping secret records of Americans’ international telephone calls about a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) virtually collected pieces of all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking for more than two decades as reported by the current and former officials involved with the operation.
Federal investigators used the call records to track drug gangs’ distribution networks in the USA that allowed agents to identify previously unidentified trafficking rings and money handlers. They also used the records to help eliminating foreign links to the bombing in 1995 of a federal building in Oklahoma City. They were also used to identify U.S. suspects in a vast range of other inspections.
In January, The Justice DepartmentÂ declared that theÂ DEA had collected data about calls to designated foreign countries. However, the history and wide scale of that operation have not been opened yet.
The operation carried out by the DEA’s intelligence arm, which is cancelled now, was the government’s first known attempt to collect data on Americans in big volumes. It contained records of telephone calls made by millions of U.S. citizens disregarding of whether they were doubted of a crime.
It was a miniature for the massive phone surveillance system that was launched by NSA to detect terrorists after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The White House proposed a similar way for the NSAâ€™s telephone surveillance program, which is arranged to expire on June 1. That approach would stop the NSA’s bulk data collection .However, it would provide the spy agency the power to force companies to turn over records connected to particular telephone numbers, subject to a court order.