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NSA Has Broken Privacy Rules 'Thousands Of Times Each Year'

The morning's major scoop comes from The Washington Post:

"The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents."

According to the Post, "most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls."

It adds that the audit and other documents come from "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden and "include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance."

An NSA official tells the Post that it tries to flag such problems "at the earliest possible moment, [and] implement mitigation measures wherever possible, and drive the numbers down. ... We're a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line."

The New York Times followed up the Post report and leads its story with this:

"The National Security Agency violated privacy rules protecting the communications of Americans and others on domestic soil 2,776 times over a one-year period, according to an internal audit leaked by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden and made public on Thursday night."

Politico says that:

"The details in the report are the clearest window yet into the extent to which surveillance programs overstep laws and other rules. Last year, the intelligence community declassified the fact that the FISA Court found that surveillance programs violated the Fourth Amendment at least one time, but little else has been divulged about the NSA's compliance records."

NPR has not obtained or seen the documents.

Last week, the Times reported that the NSA has been "searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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