Despite a recent report that paints employees as low-morale victims of a media-fueled cavalcade of spy scandals, working for the National Security Agency (NSA) undoubtedly comes with some unique perks.
One of the great side effects of digital omniscience is the ability to find out if your husband, wife, boyfriend or mistress is cheating on you. Monday’s online news editions were filled with reports indicating that’s exactly what some NSA staffers have done.
“Staff working at the National Security Agency — the eavesdropping unit that was revealed to have spied on millions of people — have used the technology to spy on their lovers,” states The Telegraph. “The employees even had a code name for the practice — ‘Love-int’ — meaning the gathering of intelligence on their partners.”
“Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of ‘INT,’ such as ‘SIGINT’ for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and ‘HUMINT’ for human intelligence, or spying,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “The ‘LOVEINT’ examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.”
The story comes only a week after an internal NSA inquiry disclosed the agency had broken the law thousands of times in the last year by spying on people who weren’t suspected of any crimes and who hadn’t been targeted by a search warrant.
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she had been told the love-interest spying was limited to only a few instances and involved significant others who weren’t actually in the U.S. at the time the surveillance supposedly was carried out. Of course, all of this self-disclosure is coming straight from NSA officials — a reporting procedure that’s supposed to qualify as “Congressional oversight.”
“Clearly, any case of noncompliance is unacceptable, but these small numbers of cases do not change my view that NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place,” said Feinstein. “When errors are identified, they are reported and corrected.”
The Senator places great confidence in the self-policing resolve of an agency whose larger abuses were never self-reported. Would any of these “errors” be identified even now if it weren’t for the conscience (we’re told) of a lone whistle-blower and the freedom of a foreign press to tell his story?