The agency dumped the docs online shortly after lunchtime on December 24, which was not broadly noticed until today due to the timing of the NSA’s actions, the reports reveal dozens of instances in which the agency eavesdropped on the wrong targets because of ‘typographical errors’ or engaged in ‘overly broad’ data collection.
Much of the NSA’s mission stems from a 1981 executive order that legalized the surveillance of foreigners living outside of the US. The agency’s actions have come under increased scrutiny following the leak of documents in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Some of those pointed to alleged surveillance violations similar in nature to ones the NSA detailed in its Wednesday release
On numerous occasions information was shared with unauthorized personnel within the NSA.
The reports were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union they 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”.
Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said the new documents “shed more light on how these spying activities impact Americans, and how the NSA has misused the information it collects. They show an urgent need for greater oversight by all three branches of government.”