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NSA releases report on privacy violations -- on Christmas Eve

The National Security Administration said most privacy violations are unintentional.

By Frances Burns
NSA releases report on privacy violations -- on Christmas Eve
National Security Advisor Susan Rice speaks at a media briefing at the White House in Washington on Nov. 7, 2014. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The National Security Administration released a report on a decade's worth of privacy violations -- on Christmas Eve.

The agency posted the report to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union. It includes redacted reports to the president's Intelligence Oversight Board from the fourth quarter of 2001, when surveillance increased because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to the second quarter of 2013.

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The breaches include deliberate misuse of NSA surveillance capabilities by staffers who wanted to spy on spouses or lovers. But the agency said most violations of privacy were the result of unintentional mistakes.

In a statement, the NSA said the dozen or so cases of deliberate violations had been reported to the board and the Justice Department. There are also instances of data on U.S. citizens being stored on unsecured computers and of data that was supposed to be destroyed being kept.

"These materials show, over a sustained period of time, the depth and rigor of NSA's commitment to compliance," the statement said. "By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies."

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Patrick Toomey, a lawyer with the ACLU's National Security Project, said the reports show "an urgent need for greater oversight by all three branches of government."

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