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Newspaper hedges report on telecom cooperation with NSA on phone records

[JURIST] USA Today reported [USA Today article] Friday that its inside sources at BellSouth and Verizon are unable to "document a contractual relationship" between the two phone companies and the National Security Agency, or document that "the companies turned over bulk calling records" for the alleged NSA phone records database [JURIST news archive]. Lawmakers sitting on the House and Senate intelligence committees, who were briefed by NSA officials on the program after the original May 11 USA Today report [text; JURIST report], have since told the paper that the phone record database is "enormous but incomplete."

USA Today's sources have repeatedly confirmed their original reports, and Friday's article insisted that "the published report accurately reflected their [sources'] knowledge and understanding of the NSA program." Verizon and BellSouth have both denied contracting with the NSA [JURIST report] for the program, while AT&T has neither confirmed nor denied the reports. Five members of the intelligence committees told USA Today that they learned from intelligence officials that AT&T did in fact give the NSA bulk call records, and five lawmakers also said that BellSouth did not provide call records to the program, contradicting the original USA Today story. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who receives intelligence reports, said that the program monitored only long distance calls to and from geographic areas where al-Qaeda affiliates were thought to reside. AP has more.

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