NSA Releases Internal Reports of Abuse and Negligence
The National Security Agency took advantage of the holiday lull in press coverage and released 12 years of internal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees, The Intercept reports.
“The heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients,” Murtaza Hussain writes:
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 at1:30PM 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.
The reports, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, offer few revelations, but contain accounts of internal behavior embarrassing to the agency. In one instance an NSA employee “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting”, a practice which previous reports have indicated was common enough to warrant the name “LOVEINT”.
… Even in their redacted form the reports give insight into the level of power individual agency employees have in ordering surveillance, and the intentional and unintentional abuses that can take place in an environment of minimal oversight. Though NSA officials have repeatedly suggested that the agency has rigorous safeguards in place to prevent individual employees from abusing their powers of surveillance, the agency’s own confidential internal reporting appears to contradict this.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.Wait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig