The NSA scooped up around 56,000 domestic emails per year ‘with no connection to terrorism,’
reports the Associated Press.
The NSA is declassifying three documents that reportedly show how they made the mistake in 2008 which allowed the illegal gathering of these emails, and then attempted to fix the mistake in 2011.
The Wall Street Journal reported something similar just Tuesday night:
For example, a recent Snowden document showed that the surveillance court ruled that the NSA had set up an unconstitutional collection effort.
Officials say it was an unintentional mistake made in 2008 when it set filters on programs like these that monitor Internet traffic; NSA uncovered the inappropriate filtering in 2011 and reported it.
Though this disclosure pales in comparison to further reporting from the WSJ that would seem to indicate the illegal scooping of internet traffic is much more widespread [emphasis ours]:
The [NSA’s] system has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic in the hunt for foreign intelligence, including a wide array of communications by foreigners and Americans. In some cases, it retains the written content of emails sent between citizens within the U.S. and also filters domestic phone calls made with Internet technology, these people say.
One of the documents is a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinion from October 2011 which “found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated “the spirit of” federal law,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The other two other documents appear to be part of the NSA’s public relations program, aimed at reassuring Americans about oversight of these controversial surveillance programs, according to Marc Ambinder, contributing editor at Defence One and surveillance expert.
Notably, from the court opinion [emphasis ours]:
The Court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding the NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program.
In March, 2009, the Court concluded that its authorization of NSA’s bulk acquisition of telephone call detail records from [REDACTED] in the so-called “big business records” matter “ha[d] been premised on a flawed depiction of how the NSA uses [the acquired] metadata,” and that “[t]his misperception by the FISC existed from the inception of its authorised collection in May 2–6, buttressed by repeated inaccurate statements made in the government’s submissions, and despite a government-devised and Court-mandated oversight regime.” Docket [REDACTED].
Contrary to the government’s repeated assurances, NSA had bee routinely running queries of the metadata using querying terms that did not meet the required standard for querying. The Court concluded that this requirement had been “so frequently and systematically violated that it can fairly be said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”
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