On May 11, USA Today published a story which claimed AT&T, Bell South and Verizon provided million of customer records to the National Security Agency. Since then all three companies have issued carefully worded denials. Bell South has demanded a retraction.
Appearing on NPR, USA Today Editor-in-Chief Ken Paulson strongly defended the story:
“Our sources have told us they think we got it right — they know we’ve got it right,” Paulson says. “And they reiterated that what they told us is what showed up in the newspaper.”
…“We were surprised because we had been talking to both companies for literally weeks,” Paulson says. “They knew this story was being written. They knew what we were going to say. And frankly, they took some time in deciding how to craft a response.”
That’s the critical question. If the phone companies knew about the program for weeks in advance, why did it take them days to deny their involvement? Something doesn’t add up.