The National Security Agency has revealed at least a dozen instances of employees using their surveillance powers to snoop on their lovers or spouses.
The agency’s inspector general responded to an inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) about possible abuses of the controversial surveillance capabilities, listing 12 substantiated cases of intentional misuse of the signals intelligence authorities.
In one case, a foreign national who worked for the U.S. government told a colleague she suspected that her boyfriend, who worked for the NSA, was eavesdropping on her phone calls.
Investigators found the employee had been collected his girlfriend’s phone conversations with nine different women without valid purpose between 1998 and 2003, and he was suspended without pay and then resigned before he could be disciplined.
In another case, a woman told the NSA that she’d recorded a conversation between her husband and a foreign telephone number because she suspected he’d been unfaithful.
She also resigned before she could be punished, the inspector general said.
Another woman said she’d made a habit of entering foreign phone numbers she obtained in her social life into the SIGINT system to make sure she wasn’t talking to “shady characters,” which she said was intended to assist the NSA’s mission.
But the inspector general’s office disagreed and referred her case to the Department of Justice.
A military service member admitted to querying six email addresses, including his ex-girlfriend’s, on his first day of SIGINT access, the inspector general said, because he wanted to practice using the system.
He received a grade reduction, 45 days of additional duty and half-pay for two months, in addition to losing his security clearance.
Two cases remain open, the inspector general said, and another remains under review for a possible investigation.
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