WASHINGTON (www.incnow.tv) -- The National Security Agency is collecting phone records of millions of Verizon Business Network Services customers after obtaining a highly classified court order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
An article in UK-based Guardian newspaper Wednesday, leaked the news after the paper obtained a copy of the court order. The court order requires Verizon to provide information on all telephone calls in its system on an “ongoing, daily basis” to the NSA.
Many reports Thursday morning cite that the Obama Administration defended the phone record seizure saying such information has been “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats” without confirming reports that Verizon has been ordered to give information to the NSA.
According to the Guardian, the court document, marked “Top Secret”, shows that the Obama Administration is collecting communication records of millions of U.S. citizens “regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing”.
Under the terms of the order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, numbers of both parties on a call are provided along with location data, call duration, unique identifiers and time of call. The contents of the conversation itself and the name, address and financial information of the subscriber are not included. The order is set to expire on July 19.
The UK-based newspaper reached out to the NSA, White House and Department of Justice for comment but claims all declined. The newspaper also states that the court order “expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.”
Thursday morning an administration official said that the data described in the Guardian article “allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”
“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” the official continued.
As of Thursday morning, no formal comment on the report or the court order described were issued by the White House, NSA, Department of Justice or the FBI.
The Guardian Newspaper and NBC News were sources for this report. Information has not been independently verified by 21Alive.
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