The National Security Agency (NSA) on Friday conceded that its agents had misused their surveillance network to spy on American citizens within the U.S. mainland, which contradicts President Barack Obama's -- and his administration's -- claims that no such violations occurred.
In a media report on Friday, NSA leaders acknowledged that there were incidents in which NSA agents violated U.S. policy on domestic surveillance over the past decade, but they were few and far between.
"NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and cooperates fully with any investigations--responding as appropriate. NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities," the agency added.
NSA officials claim the privacy violations have occurred due to the over zealousness of NSA agents and analysts to prevent another 9-11 terrorist attack. They also mentioned the increased use of contractors at the NSA.
"I imagine the mention of by the NSA of contractors insinuates that perhaps outsiders working for the NSA took shortcuts or had little interest in privacy issues. Or perhaps they were more easily manipulated by political appointees loyal to the President and not to the [U.S.] Constitution," said a former police detective working in the post-9-11 NYPD Intelligence Division, Michael Snopes.
"The terror attacks of September 11, 2001, transformed the NSA from a Cold War relic into one of the fastest growing intelligence agencies on Earth. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the NSA pulled in billions of dollars in new government contracts. As part of a larger effort to modernize the agency, former NSA director Michael Hayden increased the percentage of agency workflow outsourced to outside contractors," said Ross Slutsky in the Voice of America.
Ironically, according to the NSA, the questionable surveillance and communications intercepts didn't violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the Patriot Act, but may have violated an Executive Order by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 that governed U.S. intelligence.
The NSA's de facto confession is the opposite of declarations from President Barack Obama and his so-called national security team and Democrat lawmakers in the House and Senate who publicly claimed that the agency's spying on Americans was not intentional and not routine.
In fact, on Wednesday the White House repeated President Barack Obama's claim that no domestic surveillance program exists in the United States.
Last week and numerous times in the past, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairwomen of the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein asserted that her committee never discovered one incident of the NSA deliberately spying on Americans without a legally obtained FISA warrant.
Feinstein is on the intelligence committee because her husband's financial entanglements with defense contractors practically forced her from the Senate Armed Services committee. As senator from California, she also represents the Silicon Valley technology executives enriched by intelligence projects, according to Patrick Watson at Money News.
According to a special court ruling that was declassified earlier this week, the NSA had improperly collected 56,000 emails and other communications between Americans annually for three years before the court finally ruled such activity unconstitutional.
But NSA officials had claimed again that the collection of information of Americans unattached to any terrorist threat or threat to national security was the result of errors made during foreign intelligence operations.
"The real question no one is asking is: What value is the intelligence being gathered when the U.S. is repeatedly blind-sided by terrorist attacks such as the Fort Hood massacre and the Boston Marathon bombings at home, and the lack of intelligence in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprising or the chemical weapons situation in Syria to name only a few intelligence failures?" asked Mike Snopes.
"Is there a legitimate purpose for spying on law-abiding Americans? If there is, what is that purpose?" he asked.