For the last three years, the National Security Agency has collected as many as 56,000 emails per year from Americans with no ties to terrorism, the Washington Times reported Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized the release of previously classified court opinions that show the NSA not only collected emails, but other communications as well.
"The opinions show that when the NSA reported to the court in 2011 that it was inadvertently collecting as many as 56,000 Internet communications by Americans with no collection to terrorism, the court ordered the NSA to find ways to limit what it collects and how long it keeps it," the Times said.
Meanwhile, The Hill reported, President Obama insisted for the second time in three days that the NSA is not spying on Americans.
Despite the administration's insistence the scandal involving the NSA is "phony," The Hill said the White House has been "unable to put the NSA story to bed."
According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, NSA's efforts are a “narrowly focused program that is focused specifically at foreign intelligence.”
The statement, however, doesn't square with the revelation that the NSA has, in fact, collected so many emails from so many Americans for such an extended period of time.
On Monday, The Hill said in another report, the administration stood by Obama's remark to Jay Leno that "there is no spying on Americans," despite a Washington Post report revealing that the NSA violated its own privacy rules on thousands of occasions.
Earnest said that story was based on an internal audit obtained by former Defense contractor Edward Snowden, and revealed "there is in place at the NSA a very strict oversight regime."
According to the Post, the report found that employees of the agency had violated federal statute and executive orders over 2,700 times to conduct unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets who had traveled to the United States, The Hill added. Over 1,900 violations involved warrantless wiretapping of cellphones owned by foreigners who traveled into the United States.
"Violations included everything from typographical errors to failure to follow standard operating procedures," The Hill said.
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