The National Security Agency refused to comply with a federal judge this week, arguing that they are just too big and complex to do so.
Responding to a court ruling that demanded the agency stop destroying evidence related to domestic surveillance, the NSA claimed that compliance with the court order “would be a massive and uncertain endeavor,” likely resulting in “severe operational difficulties that could jeopardize national security.”
The order stems from a 2008 lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that aims to uncover details of the agency’s domestic phone and internet surveillance programs.
“The public has a fundamental right to know how the federal government is interpreting surveillance and privacy laws,” EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. “If the Office of Legal Counsel has interpreted away federal privacy protections in secret, the public absolutely needs access to that analysis. There is no way for the public to intelligently advocate for reforms when we’re intentionally kept in the dark.”
The NSA has claimed that obtaining such information would require multiple databases and systems to be shut down, a process that would allegedly set the agency back several months.
“The impact of a shutdown of the databases and systems that contain [the surveillance program] information cannot be overstated,” the NSA stated.
Incredibly, the NSA even stated that holding onto and providing evidence for the lawsuit would violate several of the agency’s privacy rules.
“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,” Patrick C. Toomey of the ACLU stated. “The crucial question is this: If the NSA does not have to keep evidence of its spying activities, how can a court ever test whether it is in fact complying with the Constitution?”
While the NSA continues to cover up its illegal domestic surveillance, fewer and fewer Americans are believing what they say. Although the Snowden leaks have clearly proven the American people to be the primary target, other whistleblowers such as Russell Tice have revealed the true extent of the agency’s criminal activity.