Pando

The NSA dumped a bunch of oversight reports on Christmas Eve for essentially no reason

By Nathaniel Mott , written on December 26, 2014

From The News Desk

The National Security Agency published on Christmas Eve a series of heavily-redacted reports written about its misconduct by the President's Intelligence Oversight Board.

The reports are said to have been released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought against the NSA by the American Civil Liberties Union. They describe the agency's wrongdoings from the first quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013.

Many of those wrongdoings, which range from inappropriate handling of legitimately-acquired intelligence to personnel using the NSA's surveillance tools to determine their partners' fidelity, were first reported after Edward Snowden leaked agency files in 2013.

That, combined with the heavy redactions which obfuscate the number of people affected by these errors and the rate at which the agency finds and corrects them, makes the NSA's decision to publish them right before a major holiday all the stranger.

It would have been one thing for the NSA to attempt to prevent news organizations from immediately covering some damning new information -- that at least would have made sense, even though it runs counter to concepts like "oversight" and "accountability."

Instead, the agency seems to have published a dozen years' worth of quarterly reports on Christmas Eve for no reason other than its continued desire to prevent the public from learning more about its activities, which are often decried as unconstitutional.

All of which means the agency's Christmas gift to American citizens wasn't these files, like some joked, but was instead more proof the "most transparent administration in history" wants to hide already-public, heavily-redacted information from the world.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]