The Washington Post reports that the NSA has begun targeting the social media of its employees and contractors, including employees of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Guard, with cyberattacks designed to penetrate their systems.
The Post also reported that NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the NSA’s activities in his 2013 memoir, The Snowden Files, which details the agency’s clandestine activities and the extent to which they were conducted under the direction of then-director Michael Hayden.
Snowden revealed the agency had targeted his former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, as well as the NSA contractor who supplied the spyware used in the attack, Boozed.gov.
The Post also reports that, in December 2015, Hayden, the NSA director, authorized the NSA to intercept and collect “a staggering amount of data” on Americans without warrants.
While the NSA does not disclose how many times it has been able to get a warrant to collect a target’s communications, the Washington Post notes that the agency has been targeting Americans at the federal level since at least 2005.
According to the Post, the government also has been gathering information from Americans’ mobile phones and email accounts to identify them for surveillance.
In one case, the paper reports, an NSA analyst was able to track down the identity of a person in a phone call with the person’s ex-wife in Georgia.
As a result of these practices, the Post notes, the U.S. government has “stepped up its efforts to collect information from the private communications of thousands of Americans in the United States and abroad, without warrants or court approval.”
As The Intercept has reported, the spy agencies collection activities are far broader than what is revealed in Snowden’s book.
In 2012, for example, the agency tapped the phones of the president, vice president, secretary of state, attorney general, director of national intelligence, deputy national security adviser, the director of the CIA, and the deputy director of National Intelligence.
Meanwhile, the National Security Agency, which collects information from foreign governments and other entities, was able, in 2014, to listen in on the private conversations of millions of phone calls made by a U.K. political donor to the prime minister of Montenegro, according to The Guardian.
Another example cited by the Post is the agency intercepting and reading private emails of American citizens who have been deemed a threat by a secret surveillance court.
The agency reportedly conducted a similar operation on the accounts of a number of prominent American politicians.
This surveillance and targeting of American political leaders is not new.
The Intercept notes that, as early as 2005, the Obama administration was also tracking political activists who were considered a potential threat to national security, including the Occupy Wall Street protesters.