Meanwhile, Obama is out on the hustings reassuring America that the spooks aren't being, well,...spooks. Nobody can "listen to your mail" says our confused president.
Bloomberg is reporting that some NSA analysts deliberately ignored the law and Congress is investigating the incidents.
The incidents, chronicled by the NSA's inspector general, provide additional evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies sometimes have violated the legal and administrative restrictions on domestic spying, and may add to the pressure to bolster laws that govern intelligence activities.
Republican Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House intelligence committee, is reviewing the cases of intentional misconduct in detail, his spokeswoman, Susan Phalen, said in a statement.
There were "approximately a dozen" cases in the past 10 years that "involved improper behavior on the part of individual employees," Phalen said.
Most of the cases didn't involve the communications of Americans, Feinstein said.
Question: How many analysts violated the law - and didn't get caught?
The compilation of willful violations, while limited, contradicts repeated assertions that no deliberate abuses occurred.
Army General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, said during a conference in New York on Aug. 8 that "no one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacy."
President Barack Obama told CNN in an interview broadcast yesterday he is confident no one at the NSA is "trying to abuse this program or listen in on people's e-mail."
"There's a pattern of the administration making misleading statements about its surveillance activities," Jameel Jaffer, a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a phone interview. "The government tells us one thing, and another thing is true."
A secret court that oversees the NSA said in a declassified legal opinion from October 2011 the agency substantially misrepresented the scope of surveillance operations three times in less than three years.
Obama's administration should make the cases of intentional misconduct public so Americans can assess their significance, Jaffer said.
The cases involved inappropriate actions by people with access to the NSA's vast electronic surveillance systems, according to an official familiar with the findings who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified intelligence.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that at least some of the violations involved anaylysts spying on their lovers:
National Security Agency officers on several occasions have channeled their agency's enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests, U.S. officials said.
The practice isn't frequent -- one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade -- but it's common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT.
Spy agencies often refer to their various types of intelligence collection with the suffix of "INT," such as "SIGINT" for collecting signals intelligence, or communications; and "HUMINT" for human intelligence, or spying.
The "LOVEINT" examples constitute most episodes of willful misconduct by NSA employees, officials said.
It's not important who or what they are spying on - it's the act of abusing authority that matters. And making a liar out of Obama and the rest of his national security team is proving to be easier than anyone thought.