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)

News

in National

Ebola czar starts work, drugmakers launch vaccine drive

ebola

The Obama administration is ramping up its response to the potential spread of the virus.

in National, World

Canadian parliament attacked, soldier fatally shot

canadashooting

A gunman shot a soldier and then entered the country's parliament buildings, with at least 30 shots fired in dramatic scenes in the heart of the Canadian capital.

in National

U.S. farmers battling bugs

harvest

With record harvests depressing prices, farmers are using chemicals that protect stored grain from critters.

in Entertainment

Oprah, Neil Patrick Harris among year’s most ‘fascinating’

FILE - This Sept. 20, 2009 file photo shows host Neil Patrick Harris during the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Harris will host the Emmys again. CBS will air the Emmycast live from Los Angeles on Sept. 22. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)

Barbara Walters is back with her annual TV special.

in National, World

Jeffrey Fowle, freed from N. Korea, back on American soil

fowle

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the release of one of three Americans held in North Korea.