Shocking, ain't it?BaltSun
: "The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project -- not because it failed to work -- but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden White House expansion of the agency's surveillance powers, according to several intelligence officials."
The shelved program ...
*Used more sophisticated methods of sorting through massive phone and e-mail data to identify suspect communications.
* Identified U.S. phone numbers and other communications data and encrypted them to ensure caller privacy.
* Employed an automated auditing system to monitor how analysts handled the information, in order to prevent misuse and improve efficiency.
* Analyzed the data to identify relationships between callers and chronicle their contacts. Only when evidence of a potential threat had been developed would analysts be able to request decryption of the records.