The NSA has a shocking new excuse for destroying evidence

One thing that makes reporting on the NSA so difficult is that you have to deconstruct their statements like Derrida to figure out what they're actually saying. (This is why all responsible people read Marcy Wheeler.)

Luckily, here's an NSA issue anyone can sink their teeth into. It demonstrates the squirmy NSA legal technique, and how by its own logic the agency ought to be broken up or closed altogether.

The background is that the NSA is being sued around the block by all manner of people over the Snowden revelations. Pertaining to a suit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a previous court order had instructed the NSA to preserve data that it had collected under Section 702 of the Amendments Act to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That order has since been reversed, because the NSA has claimed (in addition to the usual business about how stopping this program will grievously harm American citizens) that it physically cannot store all the information it collects under Section 702. As Andrea Peterson at The Washington Postreported, the NSA's deputy director, Richard Ledgett, wrote a rather astonishing court filing, in which he said that "a requirement to preserve all data acquired under Section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information." (Emphasis added.) Ironically, Ledgett claims that previous privacy restrictions that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court placed on the program necessitate deleting the data the EFF wants preserved. You can practically see Ledgett sticking his finger in the eye of the EFF's legal director.

In any case, as Peterson notes, this puts the EFF in a strange position, since it is now arguing to preserve evidence for legal purposes it would ultimately want destroyed as a policy...


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