The NSA's data collection programs go back further — and cover more territory — than previously reported, according to a Wall Street Journal report out Tuesday.
Here's the Cliff's Notes, since we've had a lot of these lately: According to the Journal's sources, the NSA started setting up internet intercepts (specifically, the Blarney program) before 2001, based on arrangements with foreign internet providers. Those intercepts expanded their reach rapidly after the September 11 attacks, to the point where the laws laid out to limit the NSA's surveillance powers are applied with astonishingly broad parameters. And it looks like that happened pretty quickly. For instance, the agency monitored the communications of the entire Salt Lake City area for about 6 months:
For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, officials say, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA arranged with Qwest Communications International Inc. to use intercept equipment for a period of less than six months around the time of the event. It monitored the content of all email and text communications in the Salt Lake City area.