Wall Street Journal: NSA surveillance monitored email, text communications in Salt Lake during Olympics

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Salt Lake City skyline during the 2002 Olympics as seen from KSL. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Salt Lake City skyline during the 2002 Olympics as seen from KSL. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

In a lengthy report on the National Security Agency's surveillance network published Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal examined how information is gathered, what is discarded and stored and what role telecommunications providers like Verizon, Quest and AT&T play in intercepts.

The article revealed that during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the FBI and NSA worked with Qwest to monitor the content of all email and text communications in the area.

The intercept equipment was used for a period of less than six months around the Olympics, the article said.

According to the article, the NSA started setting up Internet intercepts well before 2001, and that after the September 11 attacks, intercept systems were expanded as the government began working with key Internet providers.

The 2002 Olympics came less than five months after September 11th, and the terror attacks immediately shifted the conversation to security.

A Deseret News article from Nov. 15, 2001 reported that about 7,000 law-enforcement officers from 80 agencies were set to work during the Games, and one dollar out of every four spent on the Olympics would be used for security.

Other specific security measures were not discussed at the time, with then-Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt saying, "We obviously don't talk about it publicly."

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