NSA officials used surveillance programs to spy on lovers, spouses

By Brandon Reid
Senior Assistant Editor

At least 12 instances of “intentional misuse” of secret surveillance programs by employees of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) have been uncovered by a recent investigation by NSA Inspector General George Ellard.

The abuses, which date back to Jan. 1, 2003, were detailed in a letter Ellard sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley had requested the internal report in response to public concern about the scope of the U.S. government’s spying program.

According to Ellard’s Sept. 11 letter to Grassley, NSA officials in the 12 cases of abuse used NSA surveillance programs to search for e-mail addresses or to listen in on phone calls of current or former lovers, spouses and relatives.

Specifically, one military member — on his first day of having access to the NSA’s data collection system in 2005 — snooped through at least six different e-mail addresses of a former girlfriend.

In another case, a foreign woman employed by the U.S. government suspected an NSA civilian employee, who was her lover, of listening in on her phone calls. Investigation showed the man abused NSA databases between 1998 and 2003 to spy on nine phone numbers of foreign women. He also twice collected communications of an American.

At least six of the 12 instances were reported to the Department of Justice. Many of the violators reportedly resigned or retired prior to being disciplined.

From the Oct. 2-8, 2013, issue

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