National Security Agency broke privacy rules, documents show

Edward Snowden

The latest disclosure from fugitive NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden included an internal agency report that cited 2,776 violations of privacy rules over a year. (AFP/The Guardian / June 10, 2013)

The leaked papers spur new calls to restrict surveillance of Americans and threaten to further erode trust in the spy agency.

By Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Leaked documents showing the National Security Agency overstepped its legal authority thousands of times since 2011 have spurred new calls to restrict surveillance on Americans and threatened to further erode trust in the powerful spy agency.

In an attempt to contain the damage Friday, intelligence officials rushed to brief congressional staffers and the White House issued a statement of support for the NSA, which critics say has violated Americans’ privacy and civil liberties in its efforts to track terrorists and foreign agents.

The latest disclosure by fugitive NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden included an internal report, dated May 2012, that cited 2,776 violations over the previous year of rules meant to protect Americans’ privacy. Most of the abuses involved unauthorized eavesdropping of foreigners in the United States, but more than 800 involved inadvertent collection of telephone or Internet data on Americans.

The classified materials, which were first reported by the Washington Post, make clear that the NSA did not seek to circumvent the law, and most of the abuses appear largely technical or inadvertent in nature. But one document instructed NSA analysts to carefully limit the information they provided to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which meets in secret to review and authorize NSA requests.

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