News

NSA May Have Collected Tens of Thousands of Emails of Americans

NSA May Have Collected Tens of Thousands of Emails of Americans

Newly released documents show that the NSA unintentionally collected tens of thousands of email communications. Photo: Associated Press/Charles Dharapak

U.S. intelligence officials released new documents on Wednesday showing that the National Security Agency may have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans per year between 2008 and 2011.

The officials revealed the documents as part of an effort to explain how the NSA spotted, and then fixed, technical problems which led to the inadvertent collection of emails of American citizens without warrants.

The move is the Obama administration’s latest response to continuing controversy over alleged electronic eavesdropping excesses by the NSA.

The documents included a formerly “top-secret,” but newly-declassified ruling by the ultra-secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in which the court itself, in an obscure footnote, estimates, based on data supplied by NSA, that between 2008 and 2011, the agency might have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emailed communications of Americans in each of those three years.

U.S. intelligence officials who agreed to answer questions about the documents’ contents told reporters the domestic emails were collected in the execution of a program designed to target the emails of foreign terrorism suspects.

According to the officials and a court document which the administration released, the NSA decided to “purge” the material after discovering it was inadvertently collected.

Details about the secretive surveillance programs have been brought to light in recent months by fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents to media outlets.

(This story has been corrected to clarify in first and fourth paragraphs that figure given is per year)

Recent Headlines

in Viral Videos

Robin Williams musical tribute: ‘Seize the Day’

24-overlay5

Robin Williams' best films are remixed and set to music in this awesome Melodysheep tribute.

in Sports

Defending champ Serena Williams top seed for U.S. Open

serena

Serena Williams has been top-seeded for the U.S. Open where she will seek to win the women's singles title for a third consecutive year.

in National

U.S. officials: Military mulling more troops to Iraq

obama

Military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more troops to Iraq to provide additional security around Baghdad.

in National, World

Obama: Beheading ‘shocked the conscience’ of the world

isis

The beheading of James Foley was said to be in revenge for U.S. air strikes against the Iraqi insurgents.

in National

Attorney General visits racially-charged Ferguson, protests continue

ferguson

The prosecutor's office will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury investigating the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.