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)

Latest Headlines

in Local

Lobsterman Found Dead


Officials say a 78-year-old lobsterman was found dead on his boat after the Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol responded to a runaway lobster boat in Rockland.

in Local

FairPoint Unemployment Benefit Decision is Reversed


The chairwoman of Maine's Unemployment Insurance Commission has reversed a decision to award unemployment benefits to workers who went on strike against FairPoint Communications.

in Local

Maine Governor Warns Residents to Keep an Eye on Weather


Maine Gov. Paul LePage is urging residents to keep an eye on the weather forecast this weekend in the event the track of Hurricane Joaquin shifts closer to the state.

in Local

Maine Police Charge Truck Driver in Fatal Hit-and-Run


Police in Maine say a Harrison man was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that struck and killed a South Paris woman over the weekend.

in Local

Ethics Panel Sends Campaign Spending Plan to Legislature


AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) Maine’s ethics commission is sending a proposal designed to shed more light on who’s donating to large…


  • 11h
  • 21h
  • 22h
  • 25h
  • 26h
  • 28h
  • 32h