(Wired) What happens when a secret U.S. court allows the National Security Agency access to a massive pipeline of U.S. phone call metadata, along with strict rules on how the spy agency can use the information?

The NSA promptly violated those rules — “since the earliest days” of the program’s 2006 inception — carrying out thousands of inquiries on phone numbers without any of the court-ordered screening designed to protect Americans from illegal government surveillance.

The violations continued for three years, until they were uncovered by an internal review, and the NSA found itself fighting to keep the spy program alive.

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