NSA representatives denied in an interview with CBS News that they are collecting the content of Americans’ phone calls, without an authorization.
"The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, and we’re not listening to that," says Gen. Keith Alexander. “NSA can only target the communications of a U.S. person with a probable cause finding under specific court order.”
The agency admits collecting phone records of some 300 million Americans in the form of metadata - the time, date, duration and frequency of calls involving a specific phone number. This helps the agency identify terrorist leads by analyzing a phone number’s “chain” of communications.
If a terrorist is suspected of having contacts inside the United States, the NSA can query a database that contains the metadata of every phone call made in the U.S. going back five years,” says Stephen Benitez, an NSA analyst.
On the recent alliance between Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies to limit NSA’s surveillance power, Gen. Keith Alexander denies allegations of monitoring the companies’ datacenters.
"We do target terrorist communications," he said. "And terrorists use communications from Google, from Yahoo, and from other service providers. So our objective is to collect those communications no matter where they are."