The United States spends billions of dollars on surveillance each year, and at least some of that taxpayer money could be benefiting love-struck Romeos in the National Security Agency.
The NSA recently responded to a letter sent by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), revealing at least 12 incidents in which NSA analysts have abused their spying powers since 2003.
The Hill recounts some particularly disturbing cases:
In one case, an analyst spied on a foreign phone number she discovered in her husband’s cellphone, suspecting that he had cheated on her. She intercepted phone calls involving her husband, investigators discovered. The analyst resigned before any disciplinary action could be taken.
On one analyst’s first day of access to the NSA system, he pulled records on six email addresses belonging to his ex-girlfriend. He claimed he just wanted to test the system. The NSA demoted him and docked his pay for two months.
In another case, an analyst collected call data on his girlfriend and his own home phone number “out of curiosity.” He retired before the agency took any action.
Another analyst based in a foreign location collected phone records on her foreign national boyfriend and other foreign nationals, saying she wanted to be sure she wasn’t associating with “shady characters.” She resigned before the agency took disciplinary action.
The NSA said in its letter to Grassley that it currently has two open investigations related to such conduct and a third case that could potentially bear investigating.
“I appreciate the transparency that the Inspector General has provided to the American people,” Grassley said in a statement. “We shouldn’t tolerate even one instance of misuse of this program. Robust oversight of the program must be completed to ensure that both national security and the Constitution are protected.”