News keeps breaking about the alleged electronic surveillance done by U.S. spy agencies. Thursday's exclusive comes from The New York Times:
"The CIA is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials."
According to the Times:
"The C.I.A. supplies phone numbers of overseas terrorism suspects, and AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said."
A CIA spokesman wouldn't confirm the program's existence, but tells the Times that the agency's work is done according to the law and is "subject to extensive oversight." AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel also does not confirm the program's existence and is reported as saying the company values customers' privacy and complies with the law "in all respects."
Most of the calls the CIA wants data about are "foreign-to-foreign," officials say. If one end of a call is from the U.S., the agency reportedly "masks" several digits when it requests information.
Other news outlets, including NPR, haven't yet matched or knocked down the Times report.
The story comes after several months of revelations about the electronic data scooped up by the National Security Agency — revelations leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The Times says its reporting "shows how agencies beyond the NSA use metadata."