Timothy B. Lee
Sept. 27, 2013
Last month, we reported on LOVEINT, the facetious term used to describe NSA analysts who misuse their surveillance powers to spy on romantic interests instead of terrorists. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the NSA to get more specific about the misconduct the NSA had uncovered. So the NSA sent Grassley a letter with details of the 12 LOVEINT incidents it has uncovered since 2003.
The incidents have a number of things in common. Almost all of them involved spying on foreigners outside of the United States (one man targeted his American girlfriend, and a few others spied on communications involving both Americans and foreigners). In seven of the 12 cases, the misbehaving employee resigned while the disciplinary process was ongoing. The rest received letters of reprimand, got demoted, lost pay, were denied security clearances or faced other punishments. None of the individuals were prosecuted for their actions.
Here are five of the most egregious cases of misconduct:
1. Man spies on nine women over a five-year period.
Between 1998 and 2003, a man listened to the phone conversations of nine different women, all of them foreigners. He got caught when a woman he was sleeping with started to suspect he was spying on her and notified U.S. authorities. On two occasions, he “incidentally collected the communications of a U.S. person.” The man was suspended without pay, and resigned before further disciplinary action could be brought against him.