NSA abuses contradict Obama and congressional claims of oversight
The NSA broke privacy rules more than 2,700 times within just one year, according to a May 2012 internal NSA report that was leaked to the Washington Post, along with other secret documents.
Since the public learned in June about sweeping National Security Agency programs, government officials from President Obama on down have insisted the nation’s surveillance programs are subject to layers of oversight.
“I am comfortable that the program currently is not being abused,” Mr. Obama said in a press conference last week, when he announced new efforts at increasing transparency. “Part of the reason they’re not abused is because these checks are in place.”
However, the latest revelation that the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, as documented in an internal report — an internal report withheld from at least one leader in Congress responsible for oversight — proves the president and several others in Washington were wrong. The NSA broke privacy rules more than 2,700 times within just one year, according to a May 2012 internal NSA report that was leaked to the Washington Post, along with other secret documents.
“The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance,” the Post wrote, noting that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had not seen the internal report before the newspaper asked her staff about it.
Some of the violations were a result of human error, some were related to technical challenges and most were unintended, the Post reported. The sheer number of violations, however, will raise concerns, CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate said on “CBS This Morning.”
“The fact is, this more than just a few inadvertent episodes,” he said. “It’s really a sense from the internal audits — inside the government — of the violations and overstepping by the NSA.”
“The FISC is forced to rely upon the accuracy of the information that is provided to the Court,” U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, chief of the FISC, said in a written statement to the Post. “The FISC does not have the capacity to investigate issues of noncompliance, and in that respect the FISC is in the same position as any other court when it comes to enforcing [government] compliance with its orders.”