National Insecurity Agency

That’s right baby, you know the way Big Brother likes it. From WSJ’s Washington Wire Blog:

National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.

The practice isn’t frequent — one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade — but it’s common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.

Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.

The “LOVEINT” examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.

In the wake of revelations last week that NSA had violated privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions in a one-year period, NSA Chief Compliance Officer John DeLong emphasized in a conference call with reporters last week that those errors were unintentional. He did say that there have been “a couple” of willful violations in the past decade. He said he didn’t have the exact figures at the moment.

NSA said in a statement Friday that there have been “very rare” instances of willful violations of any kind in the past decade, and none have violated key surveillance laws. “NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities” and responds “as appropriate.”

A couple of things jump out from the get-go. If something has its own label in a community — LOVEINT here — then the issue is more widespread than either known by the NSA and most certainly reported by the NSA.

Two… How does one have an unintentional violation of surveillance laws regarding a love interest. “Whoops I accidentally downloaded all your e-mails.” “Excuse me, I inadvertently tapped your cellphone.” That stinks to high heaven. The mere fact that it’s a love interest is rock solid proof of intent.

Lastly, who decides what “key surveillance laws” are? There’s no such distinction of “Key” or “not key” in criminal law. One of these spooks either did or did not unlawfully violate someone’s privacy. If I break the law on my job is firing in the penal code as punishment? I think not. It’s telling that they don’t mention prosecutions. I wager there have been none. They get let go and then go work for for some private contractor making bigger bucks. The more we learn about the NSA the more I begin to think Edward Snowden did us a favor.

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