NSA Used Citizens’ Credit Cards to Buy Personal Gifts, Porn

Home Politics Political NSA Used Citizens’ Credit Cards to Buy Personal Gifts, Porn
NSA Used Citizens’ Credit Cards to Buy Personal Gifts, Porn

nsa_sealNational Security Agency employees routinely accessed the credit cards of private U.S. citizens and world leaders and used them to purchase Christmas gifts, iPads, pornography, alcohol and other gifts, according to newly leaked classified documents.

The top-secret memos, released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, detail how NSA employees carefully studied the credit card billing history of each U.S. citizen when making purchases for themselves so as not to arouse suspicion. Since there was no internal oversight or criticism of the practice, employees started purchasing more expensive items, often using the exclusive credit cards of the wealthy and powerful.

The shocking revelations are likely to cause further controversy for the NSA, which is under scrutiny after it emerged that the agency broke privacy rules while monitoring the phone calls and online movements of millions of U.S. citizens. It also reportedly spied on the foreign citizens and leaders of U.S. allies.

According to the memos, NSA employees were allowed to study private credit card information since 2009. With access to so many private credit cards, some employees started using them to make online purchases from web retailers such as Amazon, iTunes, QVC and eBay, according to one memo.

Employees would use the citizen’s home address for billing but change the shipping address to an NSA-owned warehouse outside Washington, D.C., where they could collect their purchases after work.

The memos do not state how many citizens’ credit cards were used or how much money was spent, although one memo estimates “hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe? Who’s counting?”

“At first, employees purchase inexpensive items such as $25 gift cards, Kindle books and iTunes music during Christmas and the holidays, so that the expense would be buried amid the credit card owners’ other purchases,” one memo from an NSA supervisor says. “But as the practice continued, and no private citizen could complain, the purchases became more expensive and more regular.”

The supervisor writes that the practice was largely overlooked because “it’s good for employee morale, since they’re bored sitting at computers all day. And what are these suckers going to do? Call the president and complain?”

Stimulating the world economy

Using the credit card information of wealthy and middle-class Americans, the online purchases got more expensive. One employee bought a lifetime membership to a wine club, while another bought tickets to Disneyland and a timeshare in Baja California, Mexico.

As the NSA stepped up its surveillance of foreign embassies and world leaders, their private credit cards were accessed as well.

One NSA employee used German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal credit card to purchase memberships to several porn websites. Another employee used former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s Visa to buy 5,000 shares in a Nigerian oil company that did not actually exist.

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff unknowingly financed a Hawaii vacation for several NSA employees, one memo states.

One NSA employee wrote: “Holy crap, Dilma’s got a AMERICAN EXPRESS BLACK CARD!!! Any one wanna go to HAWAII for SPRING BREAK??? Dilma’s buying!! Drinks are on her too!!”

In a statement, the NSA said there was nothing to be concerned about regarding the memos.

“We’re looking into the conduct of our employees regarding these memos, even though accessing credit cards is a pretty small part of what we do every day,” it said. “Other intelligence agencies across the world do the exact same thing.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney today said President Barack Obama was “deeply concerned” about the new memos and promised a full investigation.

“President Obama emphatically denies that he knew anything about this,” Carney added.

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