In a remarkable legal filing on Friday afternoon, the NSA told a federal court that its spying operations are too massive and technically complex to comply with an order to preserve evidence. The NSA, in other words, now says that it cannot comply with the rules that apply to any other party before a court — the very rules that ensure legal accountability — because it is too big.
The filing came in a long-running lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenging the NSA’s warrantless collection of Americans’ private data. Recently, the plaintiffs in that case have fought to ensure that the NSA is preserving relevant evidence — a standard obligation in any lawsuit — and not destroying the very data that would show the agency spied on the plaintiffs’ communications. Yet, as in so many other instances, the NSA appears to believe it is exempt from the normal rules.
In its filing on Friday, the NSA told the court:
[A]ttempts to fully comply with the Court’s June 5 Order would be a massive and uncertain endeavor because the NSA may have to shut down all databases and systems that contain Section 702 information in an effort to comply.
For an agency whose motto is “Collect It All,” the NSA’s claim that its mission could be endangered by a court order to preserve evidence is a remarkable one. That is especially true given the immense amount of data the NSA is known to process and warehouse for its own future use.
The NSA also argued that retaining evidence for EFF’s privacy lawsuit would put it in violation of other rules designed to protect privacy. But what the NSA presents as an impossible choice between accountability and privacy is actually a false one. Surely, the NSA — with its ability to sift and sort terabytes of information — can devise procedures that allow it to preserve the plaintiffs’ data here without retaining everyone’s data.
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Curated from billmoyers.com