Thomas Drake is a former senior executive with the National Security Agency, a United States Air Force and Navy veteran, CIA intelligence analyst, computer software expert and whistleblower. While at NSA, he blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar programmatic fraud, waste and abuse; the critical loss and coverup of 9/11 intelligence; government wrongdoing; and a dragnet electronic mass surveillance and data mining program conducted on a vast scale by the NSA (with the approval of the White House) after 9/11. Mr. Drake argued that this program violated and subverted the Constitution as well as individual sovereignty and privacy, while weakening national security and fundamentally eroding our civil liberties. In April 2010 he was charged by the US Department of Justice with a 10 felony count Espionage Act indictment facing 35 years in prison and declared an enemy of the state. All 10 original charges were dropped in July 2011 after Mr. Drake pled to a single misdemeanor count of exceeding the authorized use of a government computer with no fine or prison time. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize, and with Jesselyn Radack the co-recipient of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner 1st Amendment Award.
There's a subscription only article written by Dianne Feinstein right now on the WSJ called "The NSA's Watchfulness Protects America" with a sub headline that says, "If today's call-records program had been in place in before 9/11, the terrorist attacks likely would have been prevented." Unfortunately, I can't read it, however…
According to www.historycommons.org, in 1997 the U.S. Military and NSA asked for access to Telecom networks. In documents filed in 2006 by Joe Nacchio concerning his trial on insider trading charges, a Lieutenant General "told Mr. (Dean) Wandry (a member of Qwest) that he ran the largest telecom operation in the world, he had looked at Qwest's network, and he wanted to use it for government purposes." […] "By 1999, Qwest is working extensively with the NSA."