(Removes reference to "over two years" in first paragraph to
more accurately reflect the scope of activity)
WASHINGTON, June 27 The U.S. National Security
Agency for years collected masses of raw data on the email and
Internet traffic of U.S. citizens and residents, the website of
Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday, bringing to
light another mass surveillance program that affected Americans.
Citing a top-secret draft report prepared in 2009 by NSA's
inspector general, the Guardian said that the collection of the
raw Internet traffic information - described as "bulk internet
metadata" - began shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Initially the program collected information in which one
party was outside the United States or communications between
known foreigners, but expanded in 2007.
The paper said the Internet "metadata" which the NSA
collected comprised the addresses to and from which messages
were sent, including IP addresses which could show a person's
The latest Guardian revelations appear to show that the NSA
collected the same kind of raw Internet traffic data among
people inside the United States as it collects on telephone
The Guardian also previously published secret documents
about an NSA program called Prism which involved NSA being able
to search the content of traffic sent through U.S. Internet
companies by foreign intelligence subjects. The paper's latest
revelations do not discuss the searching or examination of email
The Guardian said that the NSA Internet metadata collection
initially began under a controversial warrantless wiretapping
program authorized by the administration of President George W.
Bush, but was later authorized by the secretive Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Guardian quoted Shawn Turner, chief spokesman for the
U.S. Director of National Intelligence, saying that the
collection program, which continued after Barack Obama became
president, was terminated in 2011 "for operational and resource
reasons and has not been re-started."
Turner added: "The program was discontinued by the Executive
branch as the result of an interagency review."
An official in the intelligence director's office confirmed
the accuracy of Turner's quote.
However, the Guardian said that it had seen other secret NSA
papers which suggested that some collection of Americans' online
records continued today.
Previously, citing documents provided by former NSA
contractor Edward Snowden, the Guardian reported that NSA also
had been authorized by the FISA court to collect masses of
similar "metadata" charting traffic between phone numbers which
called each other both within the United States and between the
United States and foreign countries.
The existence of such an NSA program was subsequently
acknowledged by U.S. officials.
The Guardian's latest story said that when NSA first started
collecting Internet metadata in the wake of the Sept. 11
attacks, the agency could only collect such material in cases
where "at least one communicant" was located outside the United
States "or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of
the United States."
However, the Guardian printed what it said was a 2007 U.S.
Justice Department memo, classified secret, which it said
indicated that NSA later got authority to "analyze
communications metadata associated with United States persons
and persons believed to be in the United States."
(Reporting By Mark Hosenball and Warren Strobel; Editing by Tim