A u.s. Senator warned that “NSA’s potential to violate the privacy of American citizens is unmatched by any other U.S. intelligence agency.”
“Tons of electronic surveillance equipment at this moment are interconnected within our domestic and international common carrier telecommunications systems. Much more is under contract for installation. Perhaps this equipment is humming away in a semi quiescent state wherein at present no citizen is targeted but simply scanned…How soon will it be before a punched card will quietly be dropped to the machine, a card having your telephone number, my telephone number or the number of one my friends to whom we will be speaking.”
The sinister statement above was uttered in 1976.
Under the Reagan administration, the NSA could be authorized to lend its full cryptanalytic support – analysts as well as computers – to any department agency. By then, the microwaves and the internet and satellite coverage had transformed human communication. By 1981 there were domestic satellites in orbit with the capacity of carrying thousands of circuits. Each COMSAT bird had 18,000 thousand circuits that record many thousand phone conversations. Literally tons of billions of words including computer data transfers. Even the mail was being carried by satellite.