The National Security Agencyâ€™s collection of phone data from all of Verizonâ€™s U.S. customers is just the â€œtip of the iceberg,â€ says a former NSA official who estimates the agency has data on as many as 20 trillion phone calls and emails by U.S. citizens.
William Binney, an award-winning mathematician and noted NSA whistleblower, says the collection dates back to when the super-secret agency began domestic surveillance after the Sept. 11 attacks.
â€œI believe theyâ€™ve been collecting data about all domestic calls since October 2001,â€ said Mr. Binney, who worked at NSA for more than 30 years. â€œThatâ€™s more than a billion calls a day.â€
He called his figures â€œback of the envelopeâ€ estimates, adding that they include emails as well as telephone calls.
Mr. Binney, who left the agency in October 2001, said the data were collected under a highly classified NSA program code-named â€œStellar Wind,â€ which was part of the warrantless domestic wiretapping effort â€” the Terrorist Surveillance Program â€” launched on orders from President George W. Bush.
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