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NSA staffers spied on spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, NSA inspector general finds

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal watchdog for the National Security Agency has disclosed embarrassing details about misuse of surveillance data by its employees.

The details involve 12 historical cases of deliberate misuse of surveillance data. And two other suspected violations are currently under investigation.

The NSA's inspector general sent a letter to Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa. The letter says six cases since 2003 were referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Several episodes stemmed from NSA employees spying on spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends. In nearly every case, employees were allowed to retire without punishment.

The NSA director told senators Thursday that violations have been unintentional, quote, "with very rare exception."

The Senate is considering new limits on NSA spying programs. Grassley is urging robust oversight of the secret programs.

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