Thousands of NSA files on U.S. citizens who were incidental Internet surveillance intercepts have been retained, recorded and classified the Times has found. They tell stories of fornication, love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, born again experiences, illicit drug use, and financial anxieties.
Months of tracking suspects show that only 11% of the files are actual targets; the remaining 89% are "incidental collections from bystanders."
Why the NSA retains thousands of incidental collections that involve the most intimate details of Americans private lives is an open question. Voyeuristic employees of NSA private contractors who might view them while they masturbate as has happened in the past could access the files.
Too, the "incidental collections" could also be used in the following way: The NSA shares information with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA uses the information in drug investigations. But it also gives NSA data out to other agencies - in particular, the Internal Revenue Service, which, as you might imagine, is always looking for information on American citizens. U.S. prisons are filled with low level drug offenders and perhaps they will now increase their population.
In addressing concerns about the new Washington Post revelation, Robert S. Lipshit, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said, "The NSA is a great American bureaucracy. Americans trust the government and they should trust the efficiency and integrity of the NSA and the other government agencies it deals with, such as the IRS."
Diane Fig, D-CA, Chair of the Select Committee Intelligence Oversight committee, said that the new information about the NSA collection of internet activities of U.S. citizens and its potential use "Don't bother me one bit. I don't use marijuana, cheat on my taxes, view pornography, or have any interest in sex. The government can have all the data on me they want."