Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency under both Presidents Bush and Obama, said Sunday that there have been abuses of the National Security Agency’s surveillance database, but that the abuses have been “very minor.”
On CBS’s “Face The Nation,” host Bob Schieffer asked Morell to settle the differing claims from lawmakers about whether NSA employees have abused their access to Americans’ private communications.
“Chairman [Mike] Rogers has said — and said again this morning — there have been no abuses,” Schieffer said. “Senator [Mark] Udall says there has. Do you know of any abuses?”
“So there have been a handful of cases, literally a handful,” Morell revealed, “where NSA employees have looked into the database inappropriately — looked at boyfriends, or girlfriends.”
“In every one of those cases, they were dealt with appropriately,” Morell continued, “and I believe actually some of them may have been fired. But that’s the limited abuse that has taken place.”
“There has been no systematic abuse. There has been no political abuse. It has been minor — very minor.”
UPDATE: CBS News reports that Morell contacted the network late Sunday to make a correction to his remarks:
Editor’s note: Morell contacted CBS news late Sunday to correct a statement he’d made on “Face the Nation.” ”It was wrong when I implied that there were a handful of cases where NSA employees looked into the 215 phone records database for personal reasons. There were 12 cases in the last 10 years where employees were caught willfully misusing a system — but none of the 12 cases were related to 215 or 702. There were in other NSA programs.”