WASHINGTON – No subpoena, no problem. America’s largest wireless communications provider is giving call data information to the government voluntarily, according to The New York Times.
The CIA is paying AT&T $10 million a year for records of phone calls placed on its vast network overseas — even if one end of a conversation happens in the U.S., according to The New York Times.
In their agreement, the CIA provides AT&T phone numbers of suspected terrorists overseas. AT&T then searches its databases and supplies records of calls that may help the CIA identify associates, according to the Times.
Government sources tell The New York Times the relationship began at some point prior to 2010 and Congressional Intelligence Committees are aware of it.
The CIA isn’t supposed to operate inside the U.S., but it receives metadata on both ends of a conversation utilizing the AT&T overseas network even if one caller is in America.
Officials tell The New York Times government lawyers deem that legal because the identification of the U.S.-based caller is not provided and a portion of the phone number is masked.
If it’s determined more information is needed on the U.S.-based caller, an administrative subpoena requires the phone company to provide the information to the FBI for that agency to pursue.
The information about CIA-AT&T relationship comes as details continue to develop surrounding the National Security Agency’s role in government spying and information gathering.