With the power to dig into the personal data of nearly anyone on the planet, some NSA workers just couldn’t resist the urge to check up on their lovers, husbands and wives.
A letter released today from the NSA inspector general reveals that the spying organization has uncovered twelve intentional misuses of the system, most of which were committed to snoop on love interests in an act humorously dubbed “LOVINIT” by insiders.
In one instance, an NSA worker who feared adultery spied on an international number found in her husband’s cell phone. She resigned after she was caught.
In another case, a man didn’t last one day of security clearance before looking into half a dozen e-mail addresses that belonged to an ex-girlfriend. His excuse was that he needed "to practice on the system," and he claimed not to have read any of her emails. He was demoted and his pay was docked for his actions.
The revealing letter was a response to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who requested a breakdown of the cases after reports of abuse were made public by leaker Edward Snowden.
Snowden previously said, "The press claims evidence of thousands of privacy violations. This is false and misleading. According to the NSA's independent Inspector General there have been only 12 substantiated cases of willful violations over 10 years, essentially one per year."
"I appreciate the transparency that the Inspector General has provided to the American people," Grassley said in response to the letter. "We shouldn't tolerate even one instance of misuse of this program. Robust oversight of the program must be completed to ensure that both national security and the Constitution are protected."
In addition to the twelve confirmed cases, two more are under investigation. One existing allegation may also lead to further action. No criminal charges have been issued yet in any of the spying incidents.