DOJ Updates FISA Court On Its Bulk Record Data Retention, Glosses Over Earlier Misconduct

from the see-how-GREAT-we-are-at-STUFF! dept

The DOJ, via its Deputy Assistant Attorney General, has sent a memo to FISC Judge Reggie Walton, informing him of just how compliant the agency has been during the last couple of months as conflicting orders over the retention of bulk record data went flying as a result of multiple BR-related lawsuits.

The DOJ, speaking for the NSA and FBI (who actually collect the collections), went from one court to the other (the Northern District Court of California and the FISA Court), trying to figure out whether it would be destroying aged-off data or holding onto it. It was hard to discern which route the DOJ preferred to take, but FISA Judge Walton managed to sniff out the agency's true intentions, calling them out for not only failing to inform the FISA court of standing retention orders but also attempting to talk the involved plaintiffs from passing this information along to the involved courts.

Given these actions, it would appear the DOJ preferred to dump the data rather than have it actually appear in court as evidence. But Judge Walton, along with the district court, prevented that. The DOJ's letter to Judge Walton conveniently glosses over its misconduct, instead portraying the agency as a conscientious party doing the best it could under the circumstances.

The DOJ's letter notes that it managed to restrain itself from destroying any aged-off data while waiting for the conflicting orders to be settled (March 5 - March 12), which means the BR data still has a chance to be used in court. According to the letter, this retained data is being held separately from the rest of the bulk collections, which means it can't be accessed by analysts searching the metadata. Supposedly, the NSA will only be allowed to peek in on the retained data to verify it's all still present and accounted for.

While this sort of hi-gloss portrayal is to be expected from an agency that probably still believes it did nothing wrong, it's rather audacious of the DOJ to attempt to pass this narrative off to the same judge that called it out for misleading the FISA court and attempting to bury plaintiffs' concerns.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2014 @ 4:06am

    More Word Games

    Look up 'compliant' in a dictionary and one of the synonyms is 'flexible.' Ergo, you might say that the DOJ has been very..."compliant" in its interpretations of following the FISA Court's orders.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2014 @ 4:35am

    What does held separately mean, have they learnt from Lavabit, and printed it out in minute type?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 11 Apr 2014 @ 6:01am

    Color me surprised

    DOJ omits to mention its own violations of law? Huh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 11 Apr 2014 @ 11:24am

    Conflicting orders? What conflicting orders? The orders are clear and consistent. You were simply ordered to keep all evidence relevant to open court cases while disposing of all other data on other "targets" past its expiration date. Quit being duplicitous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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