NSA Report Reveals A Decade’s Worth Of Surveillance Abuses and Missteps

The National Security Agency (NSA) released a report on Tuesday — but only now gaining attention by the media — detailing a pattern of surveillance abuses dating back over a decade, Fox News is reporting.

Some of the details in the heavily-redacted NSA report include the revelation that NSA employees, either deliberately or inadvertently, spied on Americans who were not suspected of any crimes, including spouses of NSA employees and their friends.

Other missteps include sending data collected by NSA surveillance practices to unauthorized individuals, according to The Hill.

The Hill provided examples of other abuses.

  • At least one NSA analyst “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting.” She was advised by her superiors to stop.
  • An Army sergeant used NSA systems to “target his wife.” When he was found out, he was punished with a reduction in rank.
  • Another American’s personal information was “disseminated to a foreign partner” before it was recalled and deleted.

The revelations of abuses seem to confirm allegations by NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden.

The NSA said, in a statement, that the overwhelming majority of abuses and missteps were simply the result of “unintentional technical or human error.”

“In the very few cases that involve the intentional misuse of a signals intelligence system, a thorough investigation is completed, the results are reported to the IOB [Intelligence Oversight Board] and the Department of Justice as required. These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA’s commitment to compliance. By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies.”

Civil libertarians were quick to jump on the report. Patrick Toomey, speaking on behalf of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said that the report shows “how the NSA has misused the information it collects over the past decade. They show an urgent need for greater oversight by all three branches of government.”

Even the timing of the NSA report’s release demonstrates a thinly-veiled attempt at secrecy, writes The Intercept writer Murtaza Hussain.

“While the NSA has come under public pressure for openness since high-profile revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the release of the heavily redacted internal reports at 1:30PM on Christmas Eve demonstrates limits to the agency’s attempts to demonstrate transparency. Releasing bad news right before a holiday weekend, often called a ‘Christmas Eve surprise,’ is a common tactic for trying to minimize press coverage.”

You can see the NSA report in its entirety here.

[Image courtesy of: The Desk]