For at least six years, counternarcotics officials have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans' phone calls, reports the New York Times. The database covers a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s collection of phone call logs. The Hemisphere Project involves a close association between federal and local drug officials and AT&T.
The government pays AT&T to place employees in drug-fighting units. They supply Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives with phone data from as far back as 1987. Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch and includes calls dating back 26 years. Information on the program was given to the Times by Drew Hendricks, a peace activist in Port Hadlock, Wa., who said he got it via public information requests to West Coast police agencies.