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"Officials in the government and the telecommunications industry who have
knowledge of parts of the program say the N.S.A. has sought to analyze
communications patterns to glean clues from details like who is calling
whom, how long a phone call lasts and what time of day it is made, and the
origins and destinations of phone calls and e-mail messages. Calls to and
from Afghanistan, for instance, are known to have been of particular
interest to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said."


"This so-called "pattern analysis" on calls within the United States would,
in many circumstances, require a court warrant if the government wanted to
trace who calls whom."


. . . 


"A former technology manager at a major telecommunications company said that
since the Sept. 11 attacks, the leading companies in the industry have been
storing information on calling patterns and giving it to the federal
government to aid in tracking possible terrorists."


""All that data is mined with the cooperation of the government and shared
with them, and since 9/11, there's been much more active involvement in that
area," said the former manager, a telecommunications expert who did not want
his name or that of his former company used because of concern about
revealing trade secrets."


"Such information often proves just as valuable to the government as
eavesdropping on the calls themselves, the former manager said."


""If they get content, that's useful to them too, but the real plum is going
to be the transaction data and the traffic analysis," he said. "Massive
amounts of traffic analysis information - who is calling whom, who is in
Osama Bin Laden's circle of family and friends - is used to identify lines
of communication that are then given closer scrutiny.""


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