Report: NSA spying broke privacy rules many times (Update)

Aug 16, 2013
This Sept. 19, 2007 file photo shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The U.S. National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the intelligence agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reports. In one case, telephone calls from Washington were intercepted when the city's area code was confused with the dialing code for Egypt. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the U.S. intelligence agency broad new powers in 2008. In one case, telephone calls from Washington were intercepted when the city's area code was confused with dialing codes for Egypt and Cairo.

Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, which are restricted by law and executive order, according to documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden and first published Thursday in The Washington Post.

They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. emails and telephone calls, the Post said, citing a May 3, 2012, internal audit and other top-secret documents provided it earlier this summer.

The report was the latest in a series by various media on once-secret surveillance programs, based on information provided by Snowden, who fled the U.S. and is now in Russia after having been granted temporary asylum there. His status has strained the already tense relationship between the U.S. and Russia, and President Barack Obama has called off a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for next month.

The White House on Friday declined to comment on the latest revelations. It directed questions to the National Security Council, and NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden directed questions to the NSA.

In one of the documents, NSA personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

This June 6, 213 file photo shows the sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. The NSA has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the intelligence agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reports. In one case, telephone calls from Washington were intercepted when the city's area code was confused with the dialing code for Egypt. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The Post cited a 2008 example of the collection of a "large number" of phone records from Washington-based phone numbers when a programming error confused the U.S. area code for the capital of 202 for 20-2, the international dialing code for Egypt and the city code for Cairo. That's according to a "quality assurance" review that was not distributed to the NSA's oversight staff.

The NSA also saw a large spike in the number of "roamers," or overseas, phone calls wrongly tracked in the first quarter of 2012, when people traveled into the United States territory, which is outside NSA's authority. The May 2012 compliance report said the errors may have been due to tracking Chinese targets who were visiting friends and relatives for the Chinese lunar new year.

In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.

The 2012 NSA audit obtained by the Post counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure.

The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

"At least some of these incidents seem to have implicated the privacy of thousands or millions of innocent people," Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement late Thursday. He also criticized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, saying it relied too much on what intelligence officials say. "It makes no sense at all to let the intelligence community police itself," Jaffer said.

In a statement emailed to The Associated Press late Thursday, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said the number of incidents in the first quarter of 2012 was higher than normal, and that the number has ranged from 372 to 1,162 in the past three years.

Vines said that's due to factors like "implementation of new procedures or guidance with respect to our authorities that prompt a spike that requires 'fine tuning,' changes to the technology or software in the targeted environment for which we had no prior knowledge, unforeseen shortcomings in our systems, new or expanded access, and 'roaming' by foreign targets into the U.S., some of which NSA cannot anticipate in advance but each instance of which is reported as an incident."

"When NSA makes a mistake in carrying out its foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers—and aggressively gets to the bottom of it," Vines said.

Explore further: Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

More information: apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page… quarter-of-2012/395/

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User comments : 15

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antialias_physorg
3.2 / 5 (12) Aug 16, 2013
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by law and executive order

When secret services become a law unto themselves (a state within a state)...where have i seen that bfore? Oh, right - just about every dictatorship...ever.

Watch out Americans, before it's to late.

The number of 'compliance incidents' is jaw-dropping

Ah. Euphemisms. That's when you know there's some serious shit going on behind the scenes.

On a totally unrelated note: The german ruling party has declared the NSA scandal as 'over'. How's that for boot-licking.

We take each report seriously, investigate the matter, address the issue, constantly look for trends and address them as well—all as a part of NSA's internal oversight and compliance efforts.

If that were the case I somehow doubt Snowden would be where he is today.
philw1776
2.2 / 5 (10) Aug 16, 2013
So both NSA's Clapper and President Obama either deliberately "misled" the public in their claims or they're incompetent. Or maybe willful ignorance on the part of the President, but if so it's then deliberate dereliction of sworn duty to uphold the US Constitution. For international readers the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights prohibits warrantless searches. I do not believe the FISA Court warrants allow the extent what is being done. If someone more knowledgeable than I on the legality has a correction, I would like to be informed.
Claudius
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 16, 2013
The very BEST slaves are the ones that don't think they are slaves. And slaves need to be monitored. If you are being monitored, that should tell you something.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (8) Aug 16, 2013
When secret services become a law unto themselves (a state within a state)...where have i seen that bfore? Oh, right - just about every dictatorship...ever.

Watch out Americans, before it's to late
No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Bin laden dead and gone. Id say we were doing pretty well dont you think?

Hey your new reichstag looks like it belongs in eurodisney. Anybody take a skateboard down that ramp yet?
a law unto themselves
Ah. Euphemisms.
And slaves need to be monitored
Bad guys need to be monitored. Anyone who chooses to ignore them are their slaves.
Claudius
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 16, 2013
Bad guys need to be monitored. Anyone who chooses to ignore them are their slaves.


I thought it was Baaad guys, as in sheep, that needed monitoring. Since we are ALL being monitored, we must ALL be Baaad guys.

Willing slaves are the BEST.
NikFromNYC
2.1 / 5 (15) Aug 16, 2013
Due to the NSA scandal, even Hollywood is turning on President Starfuck, the tamer of oceans:

"There are a lot of things that I question, you know: the legality of the drone strikes, and these NSA revelations they're, you know, it's like, they're, you know, Jimmy Carter came out and said, we don't live in a democracy. That's, that's a little, that's a little intense when an ex-president says that. So, you know, he's got some, some explaining to do, particularly for a constitutional law professor." - Matt Damon

The trippy bOINGbOING blog where all the 3D printing hipsters hang out overlaps with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, comprised of old school social libertarians, and they are suddenly -=P-I-S-S-E-D=- -=O-F-F=-.

-=NikFromNYC=-

...formerly -=Xenon=- who created the Macintosh Cryptography Interface Project in 1994, a port of the encryption program PGP to the Mac:

https://groups.go...hPCdS2Ks
Milou
1.7 / 5 (12) Aug 16, 2013
To "TheGhostofOtto 1023"

"...No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Bin laden dead and gone. Id say we were doing pretty well dont you think?..." That is what Hitler said about his SS, "No terrorist attacking us... yatti yatta..."

"...Bad guys need to be monitored. Anyone who chooses to ignore them are their slaves."
The "bad guys" are the one doing the monitoring.
Claudius
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 16, 2013
To "TheGhostofOtto 1023"

"...No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Bin laden dead and gone. Id say we were doing pretty well dont you think?..." That is what Hitler said about his SS, "No terrorist attacking us... yatti yatta..."

"...Bad guys need to be monitored. Anyone who chooses to ignore them are their slaves."
The "bad guys" are the one doing the monitoring.


That was doubleplus good.
Claudius
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 16, 2013
No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Bin laden dead and gone. Id say we were doing pretty well dont you think?


Spoken like a true running dog lackey of capitalist imperialism, a bourgeois traitor to the proletariat, a lickspittle idler and a kulak parasite, a Bonapartist pig, a Trotskyite fascist hyena, a revanchist, a stoner, a lazybones, and a class traitor
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (8) Aug 16, 2013
That is what Hitler said about his SS, "No terrorist attacking us... yatti yatta..."
So self-defense is bad because hitler thought it was a good idea? Im confused.
Spoken like a true running dog lackey of the Imperialist pig dogs.
Spoken like an effete roman dictator with a speech impediment.
Claudius
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 16, 2013
No terrorist attacks on american soil since 9/11. Bin laden dead and gone. Id say we were doing pretty well dont you think?


I'd say we have been throwing the baby out with the bath water. The most frightful thing about the situation is how the Constitution, which has been a shambles since the Civil War, is now openly regarded as a source of terrorism by the "authorities."

"If you encounter any of the following, Call the Joint Terrorism Task Force: defenders of the US Constitution against federal government and the UN"

rug
2.6 / 5 (10) Aug 16, 2013
This would be a very interesting topic to discuss but there is so much backwater hillbilly crap being said around here a logical discussion would not be possible.
kochevnik
3 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2013
"If you encounter any of the following, Call the Joint Terrorism Task Force: defenders of the US Constitution against federal government and the UN"
To be fully precise, "federal" meant a union based on a treaty. It described the type of association that was being used.

Federal is NOT the same as national.

http://www.freema...ernment/
Claudius
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 17, 2013


Federal is NOT the same as national.



Sadly, such distinctions are of academic interest only. We are like Imperial Romans, discussing how we should try to return to the Republic. If the United States existed, it was for a short time only, perhaps 20 years or so. Thomas Jefferson had this to say about it:

"I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self- government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it."

Thomas Jefferson, 1820

What remains of the United States is the name only, not the substance.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 20, 2013
"we have more evidence that British authorities are leaning heavily on The Guardian as well as Greenwald in an effort to shut off the flow of revelations that are almost as embarrassing to the U.K.'s GCHQ as to America's NSA. In fact, British spooks have actually been over to that newspaper's office to smash things. I kid you not."
"There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more.""
http://reason.com...ice-litt
UK has no Constitution or Bill of Rights.

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