TODAY

TODAY   |  September 27, 2013

NSA admits employees spied on partners, family

The National Security Agency for the first time has admitted that some of their employees have spied on their girlfriends, boyfriends and spouses, listening to phone calls and checking emails without cause, known internally as LOVEINT, or love intelligence. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

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>>> the national security agency is facing scrutiny over the practices of his employees.

>> reporter: the nsa for the first time admits some employees have spied on their girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands and wives listening to phone calls and checking e-mails without any valid foreign intelligence purpose. it's called loveint, collecting intelligence on love interests and a new letter documents a dozen cases since 2003 .

>> what's clear about the instances of abuse is these have nothing to do with terrorism. this is about individuals prying into the private lives of the people closest to them.

>>> in one case an nsa employee improperly snooped for five years on the phone calls of 9 female foreign nationals. another nsa employee admitted it was her practice to eavesdrop on phone numbers she obtained in social settings. a male employee eavesdropped on his foreign girlfriend's phone calls thinking she was involved with people that might get him in trouble and a female employee listened in on her husband's phone call suspected he had been unfaithful. nsa director keith alexander played down the incidents saying they amounted to one per year.

>> the press claimed evidence of thousands of privacy violations. this is false and misleading.

>> in almost all of the cases the love struck employees re-signed before discipline could be imposed and no one was criminally prosecuted.