The National Security Agency improperly identified over 15,000 telephone numbers as “suspicious” because there was no one at the agency who understood the rules, according to a scathing court order declassified by the Director of National Intelligence (on Tumblr!).
“The court finds that the government’s failure to ensure that responsible officials adequately understood the NSA’s alert list process, and to accurately report its implementation to the court, has prevented for more than two years both the government and the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] from taking steps to remedy daily violations,” wrote Judge Reggie B. Walton.
The court has issued guidelines for what qualifies as “reasonable articulable suspicion”, but there was apparently no one at the agency with complete knowledge of how to apply those rules to suspected telephone numbers.
The declassified court documents were dumped with a requisite cover-our-butt statement from DNI Director, James Clapper. “As demonstrated in these documents, once compliance incidents were discovered in the telephony metadata collection program, additional checks, balances, and safeguards were developed to help prevent future instances of non-compliance.”
As we reported earlier today, another key Republican was calling to defund the NSA’s surveillance authority, so we may see actionable policies soon.