NSA On the Defensive After Rules Violations Revealed

Put it out of its misery


The National Security Agency sought Friday to defend its operation of sensitive spy programs in the wake of revelations it had violated its own privacy rules on nearly 3,000 occasions.

The NSA's director of compliance, John DeLong, repeatedly said in a conference call with reporters that the 2,776 violations reflected no willful effort to violate Americans' privacy. "NSA has a zero-tolerance policy for willful misconduct," Mr. DeLong said. "None of the incidents that were in the document released were willful."

Mr. DeLong reported, however, "a couple" of willful violations in the past decade. He didn't provide details. "No one at NSA thinks a mistake is OK, but those kinds of reports are designed and generated to make sure we understand when mistakes occur," he said.

Mr. DeLong's comments were the NSA's most direct effort to date to counter mounting concern over its spy activities and their effect on Americans since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began making classified documents public. The internal audit report on privacy violations was revealed by the Washington Post Thursday night.