One such analyst working on foreign soil started surveillance on nine phone numbers belonging to women over five years, from 1998 to 2003. He “listened to collected phone conversations,” according to a letter from the NSA’s Inspector General to Senator Charles Grassley released today. The unnamed spy conducted “call chaining” on one of the numbers — to determine who had called, or been called from, the phone — and then started surveillance on two of those numbers as well.
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It’s a fascinating look at what happens when the impulse that drives average netizens to look up long-ago ex-lovers on Facebook is mated with the power to fire up a wiretap with a few keystrokes.
He was thwarted only after a woman he was sleeping with reported her suspicions that the analyst had been listening to her phone calls. The analyst resigned.
In 2011, another civilian NSA employee abroad “tasked” the telephone number of her boyfriend and other foreign nationals. When she was asked about it, she claimed it was her practice to query the phone numbers of people she met socially to make sure she wasn’t talking to “shady characters.” (Because you wouldn’t want that.)
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