Intelligence Officials: We 'Rat on Ourselves' When Americans' Emails Are Collected

Besides improving its collection capability to avoid future mistakes, the NSA also shortened its retention time of all the communications collected from five to two years and purged everything it collected between 2008 and 2011, officials said.

"This was a problem the government discovered and brought to the attention of the FISA court promptly," an official said.

However, the officials did not offer any estimate as to the number of Americans who had their communications intercepted as a result of the flaw. Nor did they answer any questions about today's Wall Street Journal lead story -- that the government has the capability to collect roughly 75 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic.

But the same officials said the document release would show Americans the "really effective self-policing that goes on at NSA."

The DNI also published a new website to tout newly declassified documents and explain intelligence collection aimed at discovering terror plots and espionage activities -- but the newly declassified files on Wednesday were not immediately posted online.

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