NOT GOOD: Audit found NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year

Many are just mistakes. Others are violations. Either way, data is being collected on Americans that should never be collected:

WASHINGTON POST – The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

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. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.

The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one of the documents, agency 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.

In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt, according to a “quality assurance” review that was not distributed to the NSA’s oversight staff.

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 Obama administration has provided almost no public information about the NSA’s compliance record. In June, after promising to explain the NSA’s record in “as transparent a way as we possibly can,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole described extensive safeguards and oversight that keep the agency in check. “Every now and then, there may be a mistake,” Cole said in congressional testimony.

The NSA audit obtained by The Post, dated May 2012, 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.


Comment Policy: Please read our comment policy before making a comment. In short, please be respectful of others and do not engage in personal attacks. Otherwise we will revoke your comment privileges.

To our ad-free users: I apologize for the ad below but unfortunately DISQUS requires this ad in order to use their commenting system and I cannot make it go away.

39 thoughts on “NOT GOOD: Audit found NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year

  1. physicsnut your right that’s what I heard too, the NSA, if on the presidents staff, need I say more, especially with this little man and little woman whom neither have any honor?

  2. it would be useful to know whether those thousands of ‘errors’ involved, oh let’s see,  tracking Judge Alito – and others in positions of responsibility.   Sorta reminds me of the Clintons having a whole bunch of files they were not supposed to have.

  3. Now that Susan Rice ( who is by the way is the lying deceitful headache sent out on a Sunday morning who told the world the Benghazi terrorist attack was caused by the video made by a American, but we now know was a complete lie and attack was supported by Islamic Muslim Brotherhood the terrorist group Obama still supports).  Is now head of the NSA, so now Americans can sleep better at night. * Just be sure to keep the double barrel shotgun loaded and by the nightstand.
    Can you even imagine a lying rouge like Ms Rice who lied about the cause of death of 4 Americans, then getting promoted as the head of the NSA!, when she should be in prison! Sorry but her actions and then promotion brings to mind a political madam Heidi Fleiss.
    When the American who did the video is off probation (or even now since the evidence is clear) I can hardly wait to see the number of lawsuits he will file against all these blood drenched lying creeps who used him as a scapegoat to cover their evil crimes and ensuing cover up(s) that’s still on going. I hope there are a few good honest patriotic attorneys interested to take his case, he and the 4 dead Americans deserve their day in court.

  4. Don’t you just love how the government is LYING to us???  What else don’t we know….   But I DO know that we are in BIG trouble if we do nothing…just sayin’…

  5. PapaLouie tinlizzieowner
    “They are all on record with others saying that the safeguards in place at the NSA prevent such things from ever happening”.
    Right, and I have some beachfront property in Nevada I’ll sell real cheap. 😉 😉

  6. If the government is admitting that they’re collecting “metadata” (wink, wink), then it’s not that huge of a leap to conclude that they’re also collecting “other” data as well. You’d have to be naive to believe otherwise….or a liberal….or a repugnantcan.
    A tyrant has no moral line of demarcation when he’s given unrestrained power.

  7. Pinocchio and his gang are above the LAW , from what I see , and no one holes them accountable . WHY ? .

  8. tinlizzieowner 
    It apparently surprises Peter King, Michelle Bachmann, and the NSA Director, himself. They are all on record with others saying that the safeguards in place at the NSA prevent such things from ever happening. This new report, and the fact that Snowden was able to bypass the safeguards so easily, makes liars out of them all.

  9. “No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all.” — NSA Director Keith Alexander, Aug 8, 2013
    No mistakes like that at all? Yeah sure. And NSA Directors don’t lie to us, either, do they? Has Mr. Alexander ever heard of a guy named Snowden? Didn’t he “willfully and knowingly disobeying the law” when he exposed the NSA? If Snowden is ever caught, how will they prosecute him for disobeying the law when the NSA Director is on record saying no one has ever “knowingly” done that at his agency?  But besides Snowden, there are other instances in the audit like the following:
    The FISA Court “did not learn about a new collection method until it had been in operation for many months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.”
    If the NSA did not intent to disobey the law and the constitution, they would have run the new method by the FISA court before they put it into operation. It sounds like the NSA is taking all kinds of liberties to me. 
    Does security trump individual freedom? Not according to President Obama. He just told Egypt that he is opposed to denying rights to citizens “under the principle that security trumps individual freedom, or that might makes right.” Tell that to the NSA, Mr. President!

  10. “The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its
    legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the
    agency broad new powers in 2008 …….”.
    And this surprises anybody?

  11. Conservative_Hippie njmom Audits use samples not an examination of the population.  Given they found this in the audit samples, it’s MUCH larger than we are being told.

  12. The Sentinel Issa and others will have their dog-and-pony shows, get their re-election ad cutlines and the American people will be left hung to dry again.

  13. Where is the Liar-n-Chief that said none of this was happening.  The NSA is going to use all the info they collect for blackmailing purposes.

  14. njmom Agreed, the surprise is that they are not being held accountable.  Blows my mind what this administration gets away with!

  15. PaulMarek1 I still think Snowden is a traitor, but even traitors can do something right in the midst of their traitorism (word?).

  16. So where are the trials? Where are the consequences? Why aren’t people in jail yet?
    Sorry, just impatient for justice against this imperial regime.

  17. PressWatchusa  
    I wonder what the DNC, excuse me, the NSA found out about John Roberts.  
    I dare say, considering he has a lifetime appointment, it must be particularly repugnant.

  18. PaulMarek1 
    Armed with the information currently available. 

    I believe Snowden did what he did to protect Americans from an increasingly intrusive and tyrannical federal government.
    Manning did what he did out of malice towards America and Americans he deemed bigoted towards homosexuals.
    Manning was motivated by vengeance and hatred,  Snowden’s motivations were more noble.  In other words, Manning sought to hurt Americans, while Snowden, in his mind, sought to protect Americans.

    The only criticism I have of Snowden was running into the arms of our enemies, particularly Putin.  I know he didn’t have many alternatives considering the ruling class in both parties want his head on a pike.

  19. Snowden still a traitor? My, how a few weeks of reality quiet down the Snowden haters. Lefty or not, that young man has risked all to give Americans a chance to save their country. This is the first issue to unite a lot of Americans from all political spectrums. The young man is a truly unlikely hero.

  20. I still believe that the GOP and Company (like Palin, etc.) were the REAL targets of the DNC – I mean the NSA

  21. I left out the sentence 
    “For a price/donation to term # 3 ” 
    If he gets IMPEACHED – He will PARDON HIMSELF  – 
    I looked it up – It is allowed

  22. I assumed they were breaking the law but this administration is lawless so what’s the surprise? None for me.

  23. was Petraeus illegally monitored ?
    when did Obama become aware of the illegal activities ?
    was Congress told ? If not why ? If so , when ?
    how long before this is Bush’s fault ?
    hat tip Rightscoop , you beat all the major media outlets in reporting this , even Fox online .

  24. Laurel A And the secret court found something to be unconstitutional? They should look in the mirror and will see unconstitutional in every corner.

  25. So where / who do we send a request for copies of ALL info they’ve gathered on us to ?  We should have a right to them like medical records , service records , ect .

  26. There are Laws now? – I didn’t realize Federal Employees had to follow laws 
    I thought they were all exempt – 
    No big deal – Obama will issue pardons – for a price of course!

  27. Of course they did. I haven'[t ever seen any agency, policy, or power come out of the government that wasn’t abused. That’s why the government that governs the least governs the best.

Comments are closed.