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 Entertainment, Viral Videos

WATCH: ‘Star Wars’ awakens force with teaser trailer

17-overlay2

"There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?"

in Black Friday, Entertainment

‘Frozen’ tops Barbie as top girls’ holiday pick

frozen

The results marked the first time in 11 years that Barbie hasn't held the No. 1 spot in the annual toy survey.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Friends of the Galaxy’ mashup

24-overlay2

If "Guardians of the Galaxy" was set to the "Friends" theme.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Nov. 28

willienelson

A look at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.

in Music

One Direction makes Billboard history

FILE - This Nov. 26, 2013 file photo shows One Direction members, from left, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan on ABC's "Good Morning America"in New York. A representative for One Direction says the band’s lawyers are dealing with a video showing two band members smoking what the singers referred to as an “illegal substance.” British tabloid The Daily Mail posted a five-minute clip Tuesday, May 27, 2014, of Zayn Malik smoking and speaking with Louis Tomlinson, who is filming.

The British boy band became the only group to score four consecutive No. 1 debuts on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.