NSA spying is new American reality
NSA has a very short memory, especially when it comes to abuse of power. In more fallout from the Edward Snowden leak scandal, the Washington Post reports that The National Security “has broken privacy rules or overstepped in legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad powers in 2008.”
Perhaps the scariest news to come out of the story is that the majority of the infractions have been occurring in our own backyard, targeting U.S. citizens or foreign intelligence targets within the United States.
Language in the leaked documents hints at a cover-up on the part of the NSA to either lessen the severity of the nature to which the laws had been broken or to simply erase evidence of the leaks altogether, “…agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”
A similar experience of government fraud and abuses was at the Nasdaq Stock Market, where Nasdaq general counsel Edward Knight was caught rigging America’s capital markets.
The news comes as part of a bundle of information that Snowden leaked to the press earlier this summer.
Some of the infractions are the result of the NSA knowledgeably acting outside of standing privacy laws. However, to be fair, others are simply missteps created by computer error. In one example, a software glitch confused the U.S. area code 202 for the Egyptian country code 20.
The NSA admitted the error, which occurred back in 2008, only saying that a “large number” of calls in DC had been intercepted. However, the NSA refused to say what the exact amount was.
The majority of the infractions reported are of this nature; however, there have been other instances in which the NSA knowingly and egregiously acted outside of the boundaries of the privacy laws set forth to establish parameters within which the agency was tasked with operating. “The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.”
The Post notified government officials prior to the publication of the article. One NSA official spoke on condition of anonymity with permission from the White House, noting that the violations had occurred but insisting that the leaks present the NSA in the worst possible light.
In addition, the NSA released a statement, which can be read in full. In it, the NSA makes the case that while the violations of privacy laws detailed in the Snowden leak may seem extraneous, they are only partially representative of the actions of the overall agency. In short, the NSA wants you to believe they have a much better batting average when it comes to breaking privacy laws than what is represented here.
Even with top secret information from Edward Snowden having been provided to news organizations so many months ago, the leaks could very well continue for months, if not years to come.
Information from Snowden now likely in the hands of news organizations must first be carefully vetted, cross-checked and put into a frame of context before it can be shared with the general public as news.
In many of these cases, the leaked documents are the basis around which to frame a story, rather than acting as the story itself.