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Iran Press TV

FISA court: NSA gathered thousands of Americans' emails illegally

Iran Press TV

Thu Aug 22, 2013 7:24AM GMT

Amid massive public criticism, the US government released new documents on Wednesday showing that the National Security Agency violated the Constitution for three years by collecting tens of thousands of emails by Americans.

The secretive court that oversees surveillance programs sharply rebuked the NSA in 2011 for searching the contents of Americans’ Internet communications in breach of the US Constitution, the documents show.

The ultra-secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) also criticized the NSA for misrepresenting the scale of its spying practices to the court.

Officials say constitutionally-protected communications were gathered by the NSA until 2011 when the FISA judge ruled it illegal.

“This court is troubled that the government’s revelations regarding NSA’s acquisition of Internet transactions mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” Judge John Bates wrote in his 86-page opinion.

According to the documents, the NSA collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications every year of Americans from 2008 until 2011 while it was trying to collect emails of foreign “terrorism suspects.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized the release of the documents on Wednesday.

According to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday, the NSA system, built by Boeing, Cisco, and Juniper Networks, draws information from telecommunications carriers that cover approximately 75 percent of all US Internet traffic.

Documents previously released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden had disclosed a more limited form of domestic surveillance.

Last week, NSA officials said the agency’s activities were lawful and any mistakes were largely unintentional, despite the fact that the super spy agency has violated privacy regulations on 2,776 occasions since 2008.


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