TODAY

TODAY   |  August 16, 2013

Snowden leak reveals NSA broke its own rules

The Washington Post reports today that NSA leaker Edward Snowden provided internal audits that NSA violated its own policies – and Americans’ privacy – thousands of times. NBC’s  Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> meanwhile, breaking news out of washington tied to the national security agency . a report that rules are routinely broken when it comes to their controversial surveillance programs. kelly o'donnell has more on that. good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt, a new batch of secrets is out and this time the nsa which is supposed to track only foreign intelligence violated the rules and broke privacy rules protecting americans thousands of times. this comes one week after the president promised new safe guards and ways to make these programs more transparent.

>> i want to make clear that america is not interested in spying on ordinary people.

>> reporter: but it has happened. despite laws that forbid spying on americans . nsa leaker edward snowden provided secret internal audits that reveal the nsa's own record of breaking privacy rules.

>> we also found cases in which the nsa reported to no one because there's complicated rules about what to report and whom to report it and they found fairly significant incidents when they didn't think they had to tell anyone.

>> reporter: according to documents obtained by the post, they found 2700 violations in a 12 month period. they say that is above the average and blames a variety of factors including changes in technology and shortcomings in procedures and foreign targets that roamed into the u.s. many appear unintended like tracking the wrong phone numbers due to a programming error but other incidents are more serious.

>>> the federal surveillance corp. that has jurisdiction over the nsa ordered it to destroy after five years all the call data records that it gathers on innocent americans . it did not do that. there were several thousand files.

>> reporter: the agency said in a statement, when nsa makes a mistake in carrying out it's foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internality and to federal overseers and aggressively gets to the bottom of it. the white house declined to comment. they also acknowledged that some of the methods did violate 4th amendment rights so changes were made. the nsa says it has 300 employees whose job is to work on preventing the breaches and beef up compliance.