This is bad — understandable, but bad nonetheless. The NSA has been forced to reveal how its analysts used its terrifyingly database and spying tools to snoop on their lovers.
A letter sent to Senator Chuck Grassley provides a full list of all the employees that the NSA Office of the Inspector General found to have wilfully abused the NSA's capabilities since 2003 — including spying on loved ones.
In fact, the full list includes 12 incidents, two of which are open investigations, and one of which could be investigated in the future. Eight of the twelve involved spying on wives, girlfriends, husbands, or boyfriends.
Amazingly, one incident saw an employee query "six email addresses belonging to a former girlfriend, a US person" on his first day on the job. Another time, a female employee tracked a phone number in her husband's address book and listened in on his conversations because she thought he was cheating on her. Ramifications of such actions vary: the snooping boyfriend above was demoted and given half-pay for two months,; the jealous woman resigned.
All told, it's hardly surprising that over the course of 10 years some NSA employees would abuse their privileges, and a sum total of 12 is fairly low. It is, however, 12 too many — and when the NSA is at the center of a shit storm already, the last thing it really needs is for stories of unethical employees to be hitting the headlines. [Chuck Grassley via Christopher Soghoian Verge]