The NSA Declassified Another 1,000 Pages of Documents

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The National Security Agency released another 1,000 pages of declassified documents on Monday night in an effort to increase transparency about its domestic surveillance program and phone data collection. This particular set of files, many from 2009, details the agency's self-reporting of rule violations.

According to the intelligence court records, the NSA acknowledged that it had improperly collected data or violated regulations due to "poor management, lack of involvement by compliance officials and lack of internal verification procedures, not by bad faith." Despite repeated assurances that the lack of compliance would cease, Judge John Bates said in the "most charitable interpretation" that oversight procedures had failed.

The documents, released by the Obama administration as part of an ongoing civil liberties lawsuit, also contain passages where Bates admits to the merits of bulk data collection but orders stricter compliance. Still, four years later, transparency and oversight continues to be a problem for the shrouded government agency.

The released documents also contained training files from 2007, such as that "Analysts are NOT free to use a telephone selector based on a hunch or guess." Given the aforementioned non-compliance issues, it's not entirely clear how closely that rule was taken under advisement.

The myriad of documents was far from completely transparent, however. In the most egregious example, according to the Associated Press, "The files published Monday night were so heavily censored that one of the two justifications for the government to search through Americans’ phone records was blacked out."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.