Contrary to assurances from President Obama himself, thousands of American phone calls were intercepted by the NSA in one year alone, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post from Russian asylum seeker Edward Snowden.

Obama’s promise
On August 9, Obama told Americans from the East Room of the White House:

If you look at the reports, even the disclosures that Mr. Snowden’s put forward, all the stories that have been written, what you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails. What you’re hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused. Now part of the reason they’re not abused is because they’re — these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court].

Snowden’s reality
But according to an internal NSA audit provided by Snowden and published by the Post Friday, in the 12 months preceding May 2012, the NSA’s Washington-area intelligence gathering assets identified 2,776 incidents of “unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.” In just one incident, a “large number” of calls placed from Washington were intercepted by the NSA “when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt.”

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