The NSA searched phone records for thousands of numbers that hadn’t been properly vetted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to recently declassified documents. Perhaps more alarmingly, an internal inquiry found that the violations occurred because no one at the NSA understood how their own phone tracking program worked. The NSA was obtaining data from calls to and from a list of about 17,000 numbers that were supposed to meet a standard of “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” but it turns out that 15,000 of those numbers had not been proven to meet that standard, raising questions about the FISA court’s ability to oversee the NSA. The violations occurred for three years and were stopped in 2009, when they were discovered.
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