The National Security Agency (NSA), as if directed by the Coen Brothers themselves, have “accidentally” destroyed any and all surveillance data it swore to preserve under court order which could have been used as evidence to incriminate themselves in ongoing lawsuits, according to a report from Politico.
Speaking to a U.S. District Court judge overseeing NSA lawsuits (such as a case pertaining to the unconstitutional programs of warrantless data collection and wiretapping of American citizens ordered by former President George W. Bush), the agency also revealed that all backup data also happens to have been erased in 2009, 2011 and as recently as 2016.
The agency is proving exactly why judiciaries shouldn’t let the accused handle their own potentially incriminating evidence: it obstructs justice. Even the mere appearance of foul-play puts the controversial agency, already exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden and news outlets like Wikileaks, into the completely-unreliable-beyond-parody territory.
“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data,” said the agency’s deputy director of capabilities Elizabeth B., her named redacted in October 2017 court filings obtained by Politico. “NSA senior management is fully aware of this failure, and the Agency is committed to taking swift action to respond to the loss of this data.”
In a court update released last Thursday, another named redacted NSA official, Dr. Mark O., potentially trying to save face, claimed the data and backups were not “specifically targeted for deletion,” but rather “matched criteria that were broadly used to delete data of certain type.”
The updates goes on to allege this was somehow all because of a “broad housecleaning effort” in order to make more space for future data collection… potentially the same kind of data collection that, under court order, was expected to be audited by the judiciary to ensure it’s all actually legal.
As pointed by staunchly left-wing political commentator Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk: “so the NSA is using today’s technology like a VHS? They just ran out of room, in a multi-billion dollar facility, and had to wipe over important information like it’s the 1990s?” It’s a recent facility, constructed in Utah during May 2014 to the tune of $1.5 billion.
Use Occam’s Razor and you’ll find the simple answer — potential foul-play to avoid punishment — all the more reasonable than an agency-wide happy accident that somehow deleted all backups and finalized metadata protected under court order. Even the Coens would find this too absurdist.
Refusing to comply with a court order — intentionally or not — usually results in civil or criminal charges of contempt and obstruction of justice, with Politico noting that sanctions would usually be placed against the individual or party responsible for non-compliance. As of yet, no such action has been taken against what has become one of the most powerful agencies in America.
The agency’s influence grows by the day, with a TrigTent report from earlier this month highlighting the six-year renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the pro-surveillance policy pushed through Congress by both so-called #Resistance Democrats and Republicans, and later signed by former NSA-spying critic President Donald J. Trump.
Weasel-worded #Resistance fighters, such as California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein, voted with vast numbers of Republicans in a 60–38 majority to shut down further debate on the FISA Amendments last week, with 18 Democrats joining 41 Republicans and one independent, Maine’s own Angus King, in moving the pro-surveillance legislation quicker to President Trump’s desk.
Those Democrats joining Feinstein included:
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Doug Jones (D-AB)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Gary Peters (D-MI)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Aside from Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Dan Sullivan (R-Ala) who did not vote, a few specific Republicans in opposition to the motion were:
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Steve Daines (R-MT)
Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
and Rand Paul (R-KT)
Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed that this law is the entire basis for two of the largest surveillance programs used by the NSA, one called PRISM, which collects the data from United States-based companies (Apple, Google, Amazon, etc), as well as another called Upstream, which The Intercept’s Alex Emmons reporting that it “scans the data passing through internet junctions as it enters and exits the U.S.”
Section 702 also allows the U.S. to spy on foreigners overseas, which is odd considering that’s what the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) already have the capacity to do, with the intelligence community insisting that program is a critical tool in identifying and disrupting terror plots, however, no evidence for this claim was presented.