Apparently there was intentional spying on Americans by the NSA
There were “approximately a dozen” cases in the past 10 years that “involved improper behavior on the part of individual employees,” Phalen said. . . .
“Over the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA’s authorities have been found,” the agency said in a statement to Bloomberg News. “NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and cooperates fully with any investigations -- responding as appropriate. NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities.”
The compilation of willful violations, while limited, contradicts repeated assertions that no deliberate abuses occurred.
Army General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, said during a conference in New York on Aug. 8 that “no one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacy.”
President Barack Obama told CNN in an interview broadcast yesterday he is confident no one at the NSA is “trying to abuse this program or listen in on people’s e-mail.”
“There’s a pattern of the administration making misleading statements about its surveillance activities,” Jameel Jaffer, a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a phone interview. “The government tells us one thing, and another thing is true.” . . .
But can the government even know how many abuses there have been? From the Associated Press:
The disclosure undermines the Obama administration's assurances to Congress and the public that the NSA surveillance programs can't be abused because its spying systems are so aggressively monitored and audited for oversight purposes: If Snowden could defeat the NSA's own tripwires and internal burglar alarms, how many other employees or contractors could do the same? . . .