National Security Agency officers have used the agencies investigative powers to spy on spouses and former love interests, U.S. officials confirmed in a recent report.
In the secret service agent world, Intel commonly refers to intelligence gathered about a specific case. When writing a case file, that word is shortened to INT. Files containing case identifiers followed by the word INT usually signify intelligence gather on that particular topic. For example, "HUMINT" refers to Human Intelligence.
While most files are work related, US officials recently revealed that in the past, intelligence has been gathered for personal use as well. At least a small number of NSA officers have used the organization's eavesdropping ability to spy on a spouse or love interest according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The NSA revealed last week that it had violated privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions over a one-year period. But in most cases, those violations occurred by accident said NSA Chief Compliance Officer John DeLong during a conference with reporters. The agency claimed there were only "very rare instances of willful violations of NSA's authorities."
"Willful" violations included an NSA officer using intelligence tracking information to spy on a spouse. There were "a few cases" where NSA officials or contractors had used agency surveillance tools or data to spy on people in which they had romantic interests, a Bloomberg report stated.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the committee, said however that the cases of willful abuse were rare.
"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 said according to the Guardian.
Each incident was handled carefully, the organization assured.
"NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and co-operates fully with any investigations – responding as appropriate," the NSA said in a statement. "NSA has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency's authorities."
Word of the story quickly spread to the Internet, prompting social media user to develop NSA pickup lines and poems that soon became viral.
"Just relax while we unzip your files," read one pickup line.
"I bet you're tired of guys who only pretend to listen," read another.