9 in 10 Messages NSA Spies On Not From Targets

Agency is casting much wider net, Snowden messages show

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2014 10:25 AM CDT

(Newser) – Still living in the dream world where the NSA only monitors foreign nationals located outside our borders? The Washington Post, armed with a four-month investigation and a vast trove of 160,000 intercepted messages courtesy of Edward Snowden, reveals that the spy agency in fact casts a much wider net. In fact, nine out of 10 of those messages came from non-targeted regular people who may have engaged in such risky behavior as sending an email in a foreign language, chatting with someone located outside the US, or using a non-US proxy to live stream, say, World Cup or BBC coverage.

In all, some 900,000 people could have been spied on, the report estimates. The Post notes some NSA successes here, including "fresh revelations about a secret overseas nuclear project, double-dealing by an ostensible ally, (and) a military calamity that befell an unfriendly power." But the end doesn't justify the means, says Snowden, and feds aren't exactly leaping to delete what they don't need. "Even if one could conceivably justify the initial, inadvertent interception of baby pictures and love letters of innocent bystanders, their continued storage in government databases is both troubling and dangerous. Who knows how that information will be used in the future?" Click for the full report.

Edward Snowden has given a new trove of intercepted messages that show the NSA casts a much broader net than thought.   (AP Photo/NBC News)
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