A top secret NSA wiretapping facility in Georgia accused of spying on Americans illegally was hastily staffed with inexperienced reservists in the months following September 11, where they worked under conflicting orders and with little supervision, according to three former workers at the spy complex.
Former Army Reserve linguist Adrienne Kinne, who worked at the facility at Fort Gordon, claimed she and her group intercepted and transcribed satellite phone calls of American civilians in the Middle East for the National Security Agency. The senate intelligence committee opened a probe into the alleged abuses after a ABC News report this week.
Aid workers and journalists were specifically targeted in the program, and their phone numbers were added to a "priority list", Kinne said (video). Among those under surveillance were workers from nongovernmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations, as well as journalists staying in Baghdad at the time of the Iraq invasion.
If the allegations are true, it would seem to indicate that warrantless spying of Americans approved by President Bush following 9/11 expanded rapidly beyond U.S. borders to citizens overseas, notwithstanding United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18, or USSID 18 -- an NSA rule that bars overseas surveillance of Americans without authorization and probable cause. (Full)
A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders, Michael Goldfarb, said: "The abuse of humanitarian action through intelligence gathering for military or political objectives, threatens the ability to assist populations and undermines the safety of humanitarian aid workers."
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Picture courtesy the U.S. Army and Wired.