NSA repeatedly violated limits on spying, new documents show


Army Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, speaks at an Armed Forces International Cyber Symposium on June 27, 2013, in Baltimore, Maryland. Alexander addressed recent developments in the NSA's surveillance programs during his remarks.


Win McNamee

The US National Security Agency (NSA) continued to violate surveillance rules despite oversight by a US intelligence court, newly released documents reveal.

More than 1,000 pages of newly declassified material shows that the NSA told the Foreign Surveillance Court about its repeated violations and promised to implement better safety measures.

The documents indicate that the judges on the court were less than impressed by the NSA's handling of violations while the spy agency collected millions of Americans' phone records over the last seven years.

In one case, the NSA said that its problems were simply a matter of "poor management, lack of involvement by compliance officials and lack of internal verification procedures, not by bad faith." In another, it put the improper gathering of information down to a typo.

The new documents also seem to reveal the original court order allowing for the vast collection of data, signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the former presiding judge of the surveillance court.

Her signature provided the NSA with the ability to collect bulk information from telecommunications around the world, the scope of which is still very unclear.

More from GlobalPost: Supreme Court rejects review of NSA program

The date of the document was blacked out but it is thought to have been signed around 2004, according to The Guardian.

The Washington Post reported that prior to that court document, the spy agency would have simply collected the data without approval as a part of surveillance programs enacted after 9/11.

The documents were released this week by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on the orders of the Obama administration, which is facing a lawsuit challenging the constiutionality of the government's surveillance programs. 

The Supreme Court refused this week to look at NSA spying and the collection of American telephone records.