Transgressions ranged from serious legal violations to typos that led to unintended data collection, according to documents supplied to The Washington Post.
The National Security Agency exceeded its legal authority and broke agency rules thousands of times since it was granted broader powers in 2008, according to an internal agency audit obtained by The Washington Post.
Most violations involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the U.S., according to the documents, which were supplied to the newspaper by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents show infractions ranging from serious legal violations to typographical errors that resulted in unintended data collection, The Post reported.
The agency was not always forthcoming with the details of its transgressions, the Post found. A quality assurance report not shared with an oversight committee found that a “large number” of calls were placed to Egypt 2008 when the U.S. area code 202 was mistakenly entered as 20. In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews NSA warrant requests, was not made aware of a new collection method until it had been in place for several months. The court ultimately ruled it unconstitutional, the Post reported.
The audit, dated May 2012, uncovered 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications, the Post reported. One of those cases involved the unauthorized use of data on 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.