In 2009, Barack Obama was newly installed in the White House. At that time, according to the AP, internal NSA employees challenged the telephone metadata collection program that had been operated since 9/11. Discussions were held, but no changes were made.
By 2009, several former officials said, concern about the “215 program,” so-called for the authorizing provision of the USA Patriot Act, had grown inside NSA’s Fort Meade, Maryland, headquarters to the point that the program’s intelligence value was being questioned. That was partly true because, for technical and other reasons, the NSA was not capturing most mobile calling records, which were an increasing share of the domestic calling universe, the former officials said.
The dissent prompted NSA leaders to examine whether the agency could stop gathering and storing domestic landline calling records and instead access the records as needed from the telephone companies, Alexander said. The NSA consulted with the Justice Department, Congress and the White House, newly occupied by President Barack Obama.
But the government ultimately decided against changing what most officials still view as a necessary bulwark against domestic terror plots, Alexander and other former officials said. The program collects and stores so-called metadata on every landline phone call made in America — the phone number called from, the phone number called and the duration of the call. Some estimates have said the program collects records on up to 3 billion calls a day.
Good job, Mr. President. If you had acted then, Edward Snowden would probably not disclosed much of what he did.
— Declan McCullagh (@declanm) November 20, 2014
- AP Exclusive: Some in NSA warned of a backlash (usnews.com)
- Some GOP senators oppose NSA phone records measure (dailymail.co.uk)