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NSA: Yes, some of our spooks DID snoop on overseas lovers

But it's OK, they resigned before we gave them a slap on the wrist

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NSA spooks used top secret surveillance techniques to snoop on their partners and check out prospective lovers, according to an official admission made to a US senator.

A letter from NSA inspector general Dr. George Ellard reveals that spies "intentionally misused" signals intelligence (SIGINT) techniques to gather information on the objects of their affection.

There are currently two open investigations into amorous eavesdropping and a third case is being considered for further investigation.

The letter from the NSA chief was released in response to a request from Republican Senator Charles Grassley. It had long been known that spooks were involved in "loveint" - or spying on people they fancy - but this is the first time specific incidences have been discovered.

Most of the cases involve spooks eavesdropping on phone calls made by their love interests, who, in the cases disclosed to Senator Grassley, were generally foreign nationals. NSA spies are not permitted to snoop on Americans, although they can legally gather metadata from their communications.

In 2004, one female spook began tapping into her husband's phone calls after finding a foreign phone number saved in his mobile phone. She quit the agency before any disciplinary action could be taken against her.

Another spy "misused the SIGINT collection system" between 2001 and 2003 to target three female foreign nationals, again resigning before he could be disciplined.

A female spy also admitted "it was her practice to enter foreign national phone numbers she obtained in social settings" to make sure she wasn't about to hop into bed with "shady characters". Yet again, she jumped before she was pushed.

NSA director General Keith Alexander appeared in front of the US Senate yesterday and claimed that the small number of sexy surveillance schemes should put the world's mind at rest.

He said: "The press claims evidence of thousands of privacy violations. This is false and misleading. According to NSA's independent Inspector General there have been only 12 substantiated cases of willful violations over 10 years, essentially one per year."

There is no independent verification of Alexander's claim of minimal misconduct within the NSA's omniscient ranks. ®

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