Next time your significant other gets hold of your cell phone to look for possible incriminating evidence, imagine for a second if he or she worked for the NSA.
Government officials have apparently conceded that National Security Agency analysts occasionally spied on their lovers or perhaps would-be lovers but only a handful of times in the last 10 years. The agency even has a official sounding intelligence-gathering term for this practice: LOVEINT
Last week it was reported that the NSA's electronic surveillance program violated US law thousands of times each year for the past five years, most of which was unintentional the agency insists. It was also revealed this week that the NSA can allegedly monitor 75 percent of all US internet traffic as part of its monitoring program of foreign communications.
Members of Congress are stepping up the pressure to find out more about possible NSA snooping on Americans. An NSA Inspector General's report suggest that although noncompliance apparently is rare, "U.S. intelligence agencies sometimes have violated the legal and administrative restrictions on domestic spying, and [abuses] may add to the pressure to bolster laws that govern intelligence activities."
As far as LOVEINT is concerned, the Wall Street Journal provides the following background on when government agents listen in on their spouses or special friends:
"Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of 'INT,' such as 'SIGINT' for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and 'HUMINT' for human intelligence, or spying. The 'LOVEINT' examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said...
"The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination. Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance."
Over the years, there have been instances where cops get caught accessing law enforcement databases for inappropriate purposes. Given general human nature and natural curiosity and/or jealously, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, is it reasonable to accept the premise that LOVEINT was only collected occasionally or infrequently?