The NSA surveillance program has long been an issue of debate. But it got much worse when The Washington Post revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been abusing its authority and willingly violating the privacy of Americans. And the findings are directly in contrast with President Obama's statements that NSA hasn't abused its authority.
The Washington Post said that NSA has overstepped its authority and violated privacy rules thousands of times every year since 2008 when Congress granted it greater powers. The Post reviewed top secret documents and an internal audit by the agency. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided The Post with secret documents a couple of months ago.
NSA violated court orders
An internal audit of NSA dated May 2012 showed that 2,776 incidents took place in the prior year. Those abuses include unauthorized storage, collection, and distribution of private and legally protected communications. And many of them occurred due to small errors like typos and carelessness. For example, the surveillance agency mistook the Washington area code 202 for "20" telephone country code of Egypt.
There were some serious issues as well. The NSA violated a court order in February 2012. The court had asked the NSA to destroy 3,000 files on phone records, but the agency continued to store those records unlawfully. It also used data about over 3,000 U.S. citizens and green card holders that it was not authorized to use. In another case, the agency didn't consider it necessary to report that it has breached the privacy of Americans. Despite all that, President Barack Obama claimed Friday during a press conference that the surveillance system has not been abused.
NSA tricked round FISC as well
Another big breach, as reported by The Post, is that the NSA adopted a new collection method and hid it from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for months. FISC ruled the collection method unconstitutional after it learned about the issue. The National Security Agency was storing international information in a repository, according to Fox News.
Keith Alexander, the NSA Director General, said recently that the agency doesn't track data on U.S. citizens. He added confidently that the agency hasn't disobeyed the law, knowingly or willingly, or invaded civil privacies. However, the latest findings have alarmed the Congress. Senate Judiciary Committee is planning to hold another hearing.