DEA Spying : New Revelations US Tracked Americans’ Calls for Over a Decade

DEA Spying : New Revelations US Tracked Americans' Calls for Over a Decade

The DEA Just Ended A Secret 15-Year Phone Call Spying Program

Yet another federal agency of the United States government maintained a database of phone records pertaining to Americans who were not necessarily suspected of any wrongdoing, the Justice Department has admitted.

The database, maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration, contains the records of calls made between phone numbers in the United States and overseas, even if there is no evidence that the callers were involved in criminal activity.

The DEA shared this information with other law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, IRS, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

The government stored the numbers, the time and date of the call and the length, but the database did not include names, other personal identifying information or the content of the conversations.

The government said it collected calls between Americans and people in countries that had connections to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.

Depending on how broadly the government interpreted that definition, it could have collected information on calls to many countries around the world.

The database, which was disclosed by the government in a court filing, “could be used to query a telephone number where federal law-enforcement officials had a reasonable articulable suspicion that the telephone number at issue was related to an ongoing federal criminal investigation,” it said.

The database is one of several troves of information on U.S. phone records revealed in recent years.

The most controversial is kept by the National Security Agency and contains records on every U.S. phone call. Counterterrorism officials use it when conducting investigations, but civil-liberties advocates have questioned the practice.

The DEA program was stopped in September 2013 and will not be reinstated, the Justice Department said in another filing.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the department in 2014 not to reinstate the program and to make it public.