It's considered a news flash that the NSA is collecting data on phone calls, with the cooperation of almost all of the major telecom companies, to look for suspicious patterns. [Duh]
[The] article identified Qwest as the one major carrier that declined the NSA's request for cooperation. Presumably Qwest has now become the terrorists' telecom company of choice. Way to go, USA Today!
[I]t's obvious that what the NSA does with this vast amount of data is to run it through computers, looking for suspicious patterns, especially involving known or suspected terrorist phone numbers. I did a quick calculation: assuming that there are 200 million adult Americans, each of whom places or receives ten phone calls a day (a conservative estimate, I think), it would require a small army of 35,000 full-time NSA employees to pay a total of one second of attention to each call. In other words, lighten up: the NSA obviously isn't tracking your phone calls with your friends and relatives.
On the other hand, PL points out, last summer’s London subway bombings were preceded by “a series of suspicious contacts from an unknown individual or individuals in Pakistan” which British intelligence knew about but did not listen in on. Says PL:
These are exactly the kind of communications that are intercepted by the NSA under the terrorist surveillance program that has been widely denounced by Democrats.