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WASHINGTON, April 8. /TASS/. The National Security Agency (NSA) was not the only federal body collecting data on Americans’ international telephone calls over the past decades, the USA Today newspaper has reported.
The report said citing officials that the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration for the first time began carrying out a similar secret program back in 1992 and "amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking."
"The US government started keeping secret records of Americans' international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed," according to the report.
The program was banned upon the order of US Attorney General Eric Holder in September 2013 amid the revelations about other surveillance programs made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden worked at the NSA's Hawaii site in the spring of 2012 and downloaded tens of thousands of secret NSA documents. The publication of this information led to an international scandal and deteriorated the ties between the US and other countries.
US prosecutors accuse Snowden of leaking information on NSA secret surveillance programs to mainstream media.
In 2013, he was granted a temporary asylum in Russia after spending more than a month in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. In August 2014, as the asylum expired, Snowden received a three-year residency permit.