Here's the note that USAT provided on its Web site to its readers.
On May 11, USA TODAY reported that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of several of America's leading telecommunications companies, had compiled a database of domestic phone call records in an effort to monitor terrorist activity.
Several days later, BellSouth and Verizon specifically denied that they were among the companies that had contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records.
The denial was unexpected. USA TODAY had spoken with BellSouth and Verizon for several weeks about the substance of the report. The day before the article was published, the reporter read the sections of the article concerning BellSouth and Verizon to representatives of the companies and asked for a denial before publication.
At the time, BellSouth did not deny participation in the program, but it issued a statement saying the company "does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any government agency without proper legal authority." Verizon said that it would not comment on national security matters and that it acts "in full compliance with the law" and with respect for customers' privacy.
On May 15, BellSouth said it could not categorically deny participation in the program until it had conducted a detailed investigation. BellSouth said that internal review concluded that the company did not contract with the NSA or turn over calling records.
USA TODAY continued to pursue details of the database, speaking with dozens of sources in the telecommunications, intelligence and legislative communities, including interviews with members of Congress who have been briefed by senior intelligence officials on the domestic calls program.
In the adjoining article, USA TODAY reports that five members of the congressional intelligence committees said they had been told in secret briefings that BellSouth did not turn over call records to the NSA, three lawmakers said they had been told that Verizon had not participated in the NSA database, and four said that Verizon's subsidiary MCI did turn over records to the NSA.
USA TODAY also spoke again with the sources who had originally provided information about the scope and contents of the domestic calls database. All said the published report accurately reflected their knowledge and understanding of the NSA program, but none could document a contractual relationship between BellSouth or Verizon and the NSA, or that the companies turned over bulk calling records to the NSA.
Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.
USA TODAY will continue to report on the contents and scope of the database as part of its ongoing coverage of national security and domestic surveillance.While I'm encouraged to read that BellSouth and Verizon may not have supplied the records, I'm sad to hear that USAToday had to print this, b/c it opens the media to attacks. But at least they had the balls to print this and open their process up to scrutiny. Where's the fucking scrutiny of the PATENTLY LIED ABOUT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?
This couldn't have come at much of a worse time given the current maelstrom of controversy surrounding newspapers publishing the details of a classified program in which the federal government is monitoring some U.S. citizens' international banking transactions as part of the war on terror.
Fucking Congress voted to condemn the NYTimes for publishing a story about the banking program. That's a real valuable waste of time. The Los Angeles Times story about this quoted several experts who said that this program isn't that effective anyway. But I guess by the Bush standards of effective -- leaving Osama bin Laden at large nearly five years after 9/11 and flying in on jets for "mission accomplished" photo ops before Saddam was captured and before any semblance of new government was established, before any infrastructure was rebuilt -- this program, in which no one was purported to have been killed and there were no dictators to find was the most successful thing since illegal military tribunals.