NSA Copped to Breaking Spy Rules— Over and Over

Kept promising it would do better and didn't, per declassified docs

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 19, 2013 7:55 AM CST

(Newser) – More than 1,000 pages of newly declassified documents reveal that, time and time again, the National Security Agency acknowledged it had violated US surveillance rules and promised it would do better, only to have the cycle repeat itself. Among the excuses the NSA gave to a US intelligence court for why it continued to improperly collect Americans' phone records: “poor management, lack of involvement by compliance officials, and lack of internal verification procedures.” In one instance, it even blamed a typo, the AP reports. The files were released by the Obama administration last night as part of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the NSA's phone records collection.

The documents also include what appears to be the original authorization for the NSA to collect email records, the Washington Post reports. Prior to July 2004, the NSA was collecting those records secretly, without approval from Congress or a court, as part of a post-September 11, Bush-authorized terrorist surveillance program. A court order from July 2004 makes the argument for continued collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and puts it under court supervision. Click for more on the release from the Post and the AP. And in more NSA news:

  • Since Edward Snowden first leaked information about the NSA’s surveillance programs, FOIA requests for NSA records are up 888%, USA Today reports. It’s “the largest spike we’ve ever had,” says an NSA employee. But the NSA is responding to requests from individuals asking if they’re being spied on with just a form letter saying the agency can neither confirm nor deny any intelligence-gathering.
  • The Supreme Court yesterday refused a request from a privacy group to stop the NSA from collecting Verizon phone records, but other lawsuits related to NSA programs are still making their way through the courts.
  • A Norwegian newspaper recently reported that the NSA spied on Norway, collecting records of more than 33 million phone conversations in just one month. But now Norway’s intelligence service says it was doing the collecting, not the NSA, Reuters reports. However, the head of the intelligence service says the data was shared with the US.

A sign stands outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Fort Meade, Md.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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