"Didn't you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?"—Big Daddy (Burl Ives) in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
LOS ANGELES—One would have thought Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) would have. After all, as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she's one of the congressional overseers of the National Security Agency (NSA), so one would think she'd know how many times over the past decade or so that agency has broken not only its own rules and lied about it, but similarly lied about breaking federal law as well—and sure enough, one of the most recent revelations about that law-breaking is how NSA employees spied on their lovers, but the sexpionage (no relation) may not have ended there.
As anyone who's been following the national news knows, NSA personnel have been caught in lie after lie concerning how much and what type of information they've been collecting on American citizens, and the more Congress looks into it, the more violations are revealed.
"The committee has learned that in isolated cases over the past decade, a very small number of NSA personnel have violated NSA procedures—in roughly one case per year," Feinstein claimed in a statement regarding the abuses uncovered so far. Whether that estimate includes the 56,000 American emails not related in any way to terrorism "inadvertently scooped up" by the NSA over a three-year period earlier this century was not disclosed.
"There’s a pattern of the administration making misleading statements about its surveillance activities," said Jameel Jaffer, a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "The government tells us one thing, and another thing is true."
One of the things that's true is that most of the NSA employees' willful misconduct—that is, law-breaking—deals with "LOVEINT," or, translating agency-speak into laymen's language, "love intelligence": Agency personnel spying on their own romantic partners.
"The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse," reported the Wall Street Journal's WashWire blog. "In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination."
Well, that's good to know! Except...
"Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported," WashWire continued. "Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance."
So though agency officials said these LOVEINT violations were "estimated" to entail just "a handful of cases in the last decade," the fact is, no one can be sure, since if the violators have for the most part only been caught during or just before they took lie detector tests for security clearance renewals, it's impossible to know just how many violations have actually taken place, nor how many citizens' personal sexual activities (and proclivities) have found their way onto NSA employees' computers.
But there may be one person who has a handle on how many violations have taken place: America's favorite whistleblower-on-the-run.
"A May 2012 internal government audit found more than 2,700 violations involving surveillance of Americans and foreigners over a one-year period," reported Chris Strohm of Bloomberg News. "The audit was reported August 16 by the Washington Post, citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden."
And let's face it: If NSA employees are spying on their own husbands/wives/girlfriends/boyfriends, how tough would it be to intercept emails or any internet communication from adult performers and other sex workers?
Just something to think about the next time you're tempted to sext or chat.
"In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."—George Orwell