NSA employees used the agency’s massive surveillance network to spy on lovers, former spouses
By End the LieNational Security Agency (NSA) employees reportedly used the agency’s global surveillance network to spy on lovers and former spouses, casting further doubt on the government’s claims about the program.
This comes in the wake of the realization that the agency’s employees were guilty of multiple “willful violations” of the NSA’s surveillance authorities and the privacy rights of Americans.
Just last week it was also revealed that the NSA breached privacy rules almost 3,000 times in a single year, making it officially impossible to deny that the NSA illegally spied on Americans.
It’s interesting to note that this latest news seems to cast doubt on the NSA’s claim that the analysts guilty of the “willful violations” were actually just “overzealous NSA employees or contractors” who wanted to prevent a second attack along the lines of September 11, 2001.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that the NSA told the committee about “isolated cases” of employees spying on loved ones that have occurred about once a year over the past 10 years, according to the Telegraph.
The employees code named the practice “LOVEINT,” according to the Telegraph.
The LOVEINT name is styled after the terms used for other types of intelligence gathering, like SIGINT (signals intelligence), GEOINT (geospatial intelligence), MASINT (measurement and signature intelligence), HUMINT (human intelligence), TECHINT (technical intelligence), etc.
Two unnamed U.S. officials said that one analyst was disciplined in the past for leveraging NSA resources to spy on a former spouse, according to the Associated Press.
Still, Feinstein maintains that there is nothing wrong with the so-called oversight system of the NSA, even though the findings of the NSA’s internal audit were kept from Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“Clearly, any case of noncompliance is unacceptable, but these small numbers of cases do not change my view that NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place,” Feinstein maintained.
“When errors are identified, they are reported and corrected,” she added.
Unfortunately, as The Washington Post notes, this problem isn’t limited to the NSA.
“There are plenty of cases in which local law enforcement officials have been accused of abusing their access to databases to acquire information about potential romantic interests,” the Post reported.
Officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal claimed that the LOVINT violations only involved overseas communications and Feinstein made similar claims.
She told the WSJ that the violations did not involve the personal information of Americans “in most instances” – which means that it did in some – and that “she’s seen no evidence that any of the violations involved the NSA’s domestic surveillance infrastructure,” according to the Post.
While the NSA has claimed that the privacy violations were just “employee mistakes,” as more information comes out it is becoming increasingly clear that many of the violations were not mistakes at all.
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