Role of Verizon and BellSouth in wireptaps cannot be confirmed
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Friday June 30, 2006
In a note to readers in USA Today the national newspaper said it could not confirm that BellSouth or Verizon Communications had entered into a contract with the National Security Agency. USA Today had reported that the two companies were contracted to provide the agency with calling records of their customers. The report of the inability to confirm the contracts was reported by today the Associated Press.
Excerpts from the Associated Press article as published on the Wall Street Journal site are below:
Gannett Co.'s USA Today acknowledged in a "note to our readers" Friday that it could not establish that BellSouth Corp. or Verizon Communications Inc. contracted with the National Security Agency to provide it with customer calling records, as it previously reported.
But spokesman Steve Anderson said, "this is an important story that holds up well. At the heart of our report is the fact that NSA is collecting phone call records of millions of Americans."
"What we address in the editors' note," he said, "deals with the fact that we originally reported that the telephone companies were working under contract with the NSA. We've concluded that we cannot establish that BellSouth or Verizon entered into a contract with the NSA to provide the bulk calling records."
In an accompanying story, the newspaper reported Friday that lawmakers on House and Senate intelligence committees have said that while the NSA has amassed a huge database calling records, cooperation with the NSA by telephone companies was not as extensive USA Today initially reported on May 11.