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

‘The Book of Life’ takes No. 1 spot on bestsellers list

Fresh
bookoflife

The final novel of the time-traveling trilogy written by Deborah Harkness, shot straight to the top of the bestsellers list.

in National

White House bemoans lawmakers’ delay on border crisis

Fresh
border

White House officials expressed growing alarm that Congress may not approve $3.7B in emergency funds to tackle the child migration crisis.

in Sports

FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup

Fresh
soccer2

The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, where FIFA says the tournament can "create positive change."

in Sports

Friday’s Sports Minute

Fresh
braves

A look at the sports news making headlines today, Friday, July 25.

in National

Creepy porcelain dolls left on California front porches

Fresh
dolls

Police are investigating dolls left on the doorsteps of at least eight families, that homeowners said bore a resemblance their daughters.