For more than two decades, the U.S. government has carried out domestic electronic espionage that has impacted hundreds of countries including Mexico, the USA Today reported Wednesday.
The Drug Enforced Agency (DEA) under former President George H. Bush with the authorization of the Department of Justice initiated the collecting of data from billions of international calls made to and from 161 countries associated with narco-traffic.
The federal investigators utilized the calls to trace drug distribution webs in the United States. This operation allowed the agency to identify and locate previously unidentified criminal organizations.
The investigations also permitted authorities to locate money laundering areas, the USA Today reported, quoting government sources familiar with the operations.
The information collected does not include the content of the calls, only the phone numbers and the dates of which the calls were made.
The USA Today said that the practice of electronic espionage began a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The DEA operation had less restrictions and oversight than what the National Security Agency (NSA) faces today. The agency did not need a warrant from a judge, which is necessary now.
Mark Rumold, attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation, questioned the legality of the program. “From a constitutional perspective, it is significant since it was directed at the general public,” he said.
The operation was halted by the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after the scandal generated by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
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