The National Security Agency is building a “spy center” in Utah with the purpose of gaining intelligence by breaking codes. But the center will also collect massive amounts of private domestic data, including phone calls, emails and Google searches:

The NSA also has the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls directly and in real time. According to Adrienne J. Kinne, who worked both before and after 9/11 as a voice interceptor at the NSA facility in Georgia, in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks “basically all rules were thrown out the window, and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” Kinne found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. “It’s almost like going through and finding somebody’s diary,” she says.

“The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say).” — James Bamford, Wired

See also: “The Journalist and the Spies.” — Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2011