The New York Times reports today that members of Congress are increasingly concerned about the extent of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, particularly the overcollection of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans. An anonymous former intelligence analyst tells reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau that during much of the Bush years, the NSA “tolerated significant collection and examination of domestic e-mail messages without warrants.” Reportedly, one of the accessed domestic e-mail accounts belonged to former President Bill Clinton:
He said he and other analysts were trained to use a secret database, code-named Pinwale, in 2005 that archived foreign and domestic e-mail messages. He said Pinwale allowed N.S.A. analysts to read large volumes of e-mail messages to and from Americans as long as they fell within certain limits — no more than 30 percent of any database search, he recalled being told — and Americans were not explicitly singled out in the searches.
The former analyst added that his instructors had warned against committing any abuses, telling his class that another analyst had been investigated because he had improperly accessed the personal e-mail of former President Bill Clinton.
Responding to the Times story, Senate Intel Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said there have not been flagrant violations of rules governing surveillance of American e-mails and phone calls.