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Snowden: NSA infringed privacy right spying on Americans for five years

August 16, 2013, 12:21 UTC+3
The report on results of internal NSA audit says that for the recent 12 months there have been 2,776 cases of unauthorized collection, storage, accessing or distribution of data
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Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

WASHINGTON, August 16. (Itar-Tass). – Over the recent 5 years, U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has infringed the right of privacy of Americans thousands of times and exceeded its authorities with which it has been invested by the 2008 law. This reported on Thursday the Washington Post on its website after receiving access to the “internal audit results and other secret documents”.

As reported by the paper, these documents were handed earlier this summer by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Data collected by him is notable for “such details and deep analysis, which are not disclosed even for Congressmen or special court” that gives sanctions to wiretap phone conversations of criminals and terrorists, the Washington Post writes.

According to the publication, the major part of the violations made by NSA consisted in “illegal spying on Americans or intelligence targets inside the U.S.” Law violations varied from “serious to negligible,” emerging from human fault or computer program failure. These mistakes sometimes led to wiretapping phone conversations or reading emails of Americans.

The report on results of internal NSA audit says that for the recent 12 months there have been 2,776 cases of unauthorized collection, storage, accessing or distribution of data on communications that should be protected by law, according to Washington Post. However, the newspaper adds that the major part of these violations occurred accidently.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of examples when NSA apparently violated the law voluntarily. Specifically, the Agency during several months was collecting data without court sanctions by means of a special program that later was deemed illegal. Once NSA decided to simply suppress from watchdogs the fact of illegal spying on U.S. nationals, and in another case NSA’s management ruled to exclude some facts indicating on breach of law from reports to U.S. Department of Justice and to the office of FBI head.

One of NSA’s gravest violations, according to Washington Post, was the data collection from fiber cables in the U.S. used for international telecommunication.

The publication said that it has informed the government in advance that it was going to publish this information based on documents handed by Snowden. The Washington Post has also contacted one of the NSA managers that obtained a permit from the White House to be interviewed. He claimed that the Agency is doing its best to correct the mistakes since nobody’s perfect, however, the proportion of flaws is not too large.

At the same time, other NSA employees interviewed by Washington Post admitted that the violations mentioned in the report on internal audit results, refer only to NSA headquarters in Maryland near Washington. According to them, if similar checks were conducted in all NSA bases in the U.S. and in other countries, the figures would be much higher.

The publication also notes that these events became possible to a large extent because NSA is almost uncontrolled by the society, and, in particular, by the Congress. Thus, Chair of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Dianne Feinstein learned about the last year’s audit results only from journalists. In a statement she admitted that her Committee “may and must do more” to ensure independent control over NSA’s activities.

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