News

NSA May Have Collected Tens of Thousands of Emails of Americans

NSA May Have Collected Tens of Thousands of Emails of Americans

Newly released documents show that the NSA unintentionally collected tens of thousands of email communications. Photo: Associated Press/Charles Dharapak

U.S. intelligence officials released new documents on Wednesday showing that the National Security Agency may have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans per year between 2008 and 2011.

The officials revealed the documents as part of an effort to explain how the NSA spotted, and then fixed, technical problems which led to the inadvertent collection of emails of American citizens without warrants.

The move is the Obama administration’s latest response to continuing controversy over alleged electronic eavesdropping excesses by the NSA.

The documents included a formerly “top-secret,” but newly-declassified ruling by the ultra-secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in which the court itself, in an obscure footnote, estimates, based on data supplied by NSA, that between 2008 and 2011, the agency might have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans in each of those three years.

U.S. intelligence officials who agreed to answer questions about the documents’ contents told reporters the domestic emails were collected in the execution of a program designed to target the emails of foreign terrorism suspects.

According to the officials and a court document which the administration released, the NSA decided to “purge” the material after discovering it was inadvertently collected.

Details about the secretive surveillance programs have been brought to light in recent months by fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents to media outlets.

(This story has been corrected to clarify in first and fourth paragraphs that figure given is per year)

Latest Stories

in Entertainment

Pee-wee Herman headed back to big screen

Fresh
peewee

Actor Paul Reubens is set to reprise his role as suited man-boy Pee-wee Herman in a new movie.

in Sports

MLB: Who’s staying, who’s going

Fresh
worldseries

Major League Baseball teams are making roster moves.

in Sports

Friday’s Sports Minute

Fresh
lebron

A look at the big sports stories you'll be talking about today, Friday, Oct. 31.

in Sports

Clippers launch new era under Balmer with scrappy win

Fresh
clippers

Los Angeles found a way to launch their season under new owner Steve Ballmer.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Scaring’ with the ‘Stars’

Fresh
11-overlay3

Halloween is alive and well on the set of the hit ABC show "Dancing With the Stars."