Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
“These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,” said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA’s Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003. […]
Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad’s Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.
“Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another,” said Faulk.
The accounts of the two former intercept operators, who have never met and did not know of the other’s allegations, provide the first inside look at the day to day operations of the huge and controversial US terrorist surveillance program.
“There is a constant check to make sure that our civil liberties of our citizens are treated with respect,” said President Bush at a news conference this past February.
But the accounts of the two whistleblowers, which could not be independently corroborated, raise serious questions about how much respect is accorded those Americans whose conversations are intercepted in the name of fighting terrorism. […]
Asked for comment about the ABC News report and accounts of intimate and private phone calls of military officers being passed around, a US intelligence official said “all employees of the US government” should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and “information assurance.”
ABC News will have more on the story on “World News Tonight,” which I urge you to watch.