- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department has reined in electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency after finding the agency had improperly accessed American phone calls and e-mails.

The problems were discovered during a review of the intelligence activities, the Justice Department said in a statement Wednesday night.

The New York Times, which first reported the matter on its Web site, said the NSA had been improperly intercepting communications by Americans.

In its statement, the Justice Department said it has taken “comprehensive steps to correct the situation and bring the program into compliance.”

The Justice Department did not elaborate on what problems it found.

Once corrective measures were taken, Attorney General Eric Holder sought authorization for renewing the surveillance program, officials said.

Government officials have also briefed lawmakers on the issue.

Domestic eavesdropping has been a contentious issue since 2005, when the Times revealed that for years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the NSA intercepted international phone conversations and e-mails involving U.S. citizens without a warrant.

That program ended in 2007, and the following year Congress passed legislation requiring the NSA to get court approval to monitor the purely domestic communications of Americans who came under suspicion.

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