National Security Agency officers have admitted using the agency’s eavesdropping power on several occasions to spy on love interests, according to the Wall Street Journal.While it happens infrequently — about one a year over the last ten years — it’s common enough to be given a label: LOVEINT.
The Journal explained the how the agency comes up with labels:
Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of “INT,” such as “SIGINT” for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and “HUMINT” for human intelligence, or spying.
“NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities,” the NSA said in a statement, according to a Journal report Friday, noting that there have been “very rare” instances of willful violations, though none have violated key surveillance laws.
Officials told the Journal that the LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, like spying on a partner or spouse. The employees involved were punished with an administrative action or termination, NSA officials told the Journal.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the NSA told her committee the “isolated cases” where NSA personnel violated agency procedures occurred over the last 10 years.“In most instances” the violations didn’t involve personal information, Feinstein said, adding that there’s no evidence that the spying violations involved use of NSA’s surveillance program.
“Clearly, any case of noncompliance is unacceptable, but these small numbers of cases do not change my view that NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place,” she told the Journal. “When errors are identified, they are reported and corrected.”
Twitter users joined in the discussion by providing NSA pick-up lines,” which was a trending hashtag Sunday morning.
Read just a few of the #NSAPickUpLines: