Documents Reveal Illegal NSA Intercepts
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The United States' National Security Agency (NSA) illegally collected as many as 56,000 emails of US citizens annually between 2008 and 2011, according to declassified documents released on Wednesday.
The US intelligence agency says that the collections were unintentional and due to technical issues, and that the emails were subsequently destroyed, Aljazeera reported.
The once-classified documents were released by US intelligence agencies as part of an unprecedented White House effort to smooth the uproar following revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of secret government surveillance programmes.
US officials say the documents show that intelligence collection programmes that inadvertently intrude on Americans' privacy are found and fixed.
The revelations also raise new questions, however, about operations by the NSA and the oversight of those operations by courts operating under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The emails represent a small slice of the approximately 250 million email communications targeted for collection by the NSA every year.
Under a separate programme, the NSA also keeps records on millions of phone calls made by US citizens and residents.
According to the documents, nine per cent of the emails - around 22.5 million - are collected from "upstream" sources, which officials familiar with intelligence operations said are cable links belonging to telecommunications companies.
The rest are acquired by the NSA from Internet service providers at the point where they are sent or received.
The roughly 56,000 annual emails in question were from "upstream" sources, the use of which the court deemed to be unconstitutional.