Verizon is the latest carrier implicated in the NSA domestic call record scandal to deny participating in the secret government surveillance program. The initial report from USA Today last week stated that Verizon, BellSouth, and AT&T were all complying with the unprecedented NSA requests for telephone records for domestic calls, but first BellSouth denied the reports that it was involved in the massive telephone data collection effort, and now Verizon is also claiming that it hasn’t handed over call records. From the Verizon statement:
One of the most glaring and repeated falsehoods in the media reporting is the assertion that, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon was approached by NSA and entered into an arrangement to provide the NSA with data from its customers’ domestic calls.
This is false.
The New York Times however points out that Verizon’s statement left open the possibility that MCI, which Verizon bought in January, was involved in turning over such records. The USA Today article claimed the NSA is attempting to create a database of virtually every call made in the U.S. and has amassed tens of millions of call records. The Times article today cites an anonymous government official who essentially confirms the USA Today report:
A senior government official, granted anonymity to speak for publication about the classified program, confirmed on Friday that the security agency had access to records of most telephone calls in the United States. The official said the call records were used for the limited purpose of identifying regular contacts of “known bad guys.” The official would not discuss the details of the program, including the identity of companies involved.