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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Courts

EFF Tells Court That the NSA Knowingly and Illegally Destroyed Evidence 269

An anonymous reader writes in with this latest bit of EFF vs NSA news. 'We followed the back and forth situation earlier this year, in which there were some legal questions over whether or not the NSA needed to hang onto surveillance data at issue in various lawsuits, or destroy it as per the laws concerning retention of data. Unfortunately, in the process, it became clear that the DOJ misled FISA court Judge Reggie Walton, withholding key information. In response, the DOJ apologized, insisting that it didn't think the data was relevant — but also very strongly hinting that it used that opportunity to destroy a ton of evidence. However, this appeared to be just the latest in a long history of the NSA/DOJ willfully destroying evidence that was under a preservation order.

The key case where this evidence was destroyed was the EFF's long running Jewel v. NSA case, and the EFF has now told the court about the destruction of evidence, and asked the court to thus assume that the evidence proves, in fact, that EFF's clients were victims of unlawful surveillance. The DOJ/NSA have insisted that they thought that the EFF's lawsuit only covered programs issued under executive authority, rather than programs approved by the FISA Court, but the record in the case shows that the DOJ seems to be making this claim up.'
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EFF Tells Court That the NSA Knowingly and Illegally Destroyed Evidence

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  • Dear Slashdot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:36PM (#47168521)
    1) Is posting AC really Anonymous?
    2) Has Slashdot ever received a FISA letter?
  • Frightening (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:50PM (#47168577)
    To all of you government surveillance apologists: doesn't it really frighten you that these guys routinely don't follow the law and get away with it? It scares the shit out of me. These people have the power to destroy you and everything/everyone that you love, and they seem to have nothing guiding them but their gut feel. How do you know they won't mistake your kid for a terrorist? Or bust down your door in the middle of the night tossing a flash-bang into your kids crib?

    These fucking people are out of control and need some serious jail time.

  • by Drishmung ( 458368 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:12PM (#47168673)

    Keeping the US safe is a clear and compelling interest that takes priority over a measly civil claim.

    Ah, yes, "The ends justify the means". The trouble with that is that the means determine the end. If your means are corrupt, lawless and arbitrary, just what sort of outcome do you expect?

    I believe this has been discussed previously: Matthew 7:16, 1 Samuel 24:13, Matthew 12:33, Luke 6:43, James 3:12

  • by krashnburn200 ( 1031132 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @10:01PM (#47168877)
    Colossians 3:22
  • by dnavid ( 2842431 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @10:13PM (#47168919)

    The destruction of that data is required by law. EFF tried to go on a fishing expedition.

    Both the FISA court and Federal court eventually decided that the NSA was both allowed to, and required to, preserve information relevant to the ongoing cases, and the NSA both knew this and also eventually advocated for this position. See: [].

    Court-ordered legal discovery also has force of law and would supercede any legal requirement to destroy information by plaintiffs or defendents.

    And the DOJ did not assert the EFF was on a "fishing expedition"; it argued that it misunderstood the scope of discovery, and would not have destroyed the information in question if it did (which seems highly improbable given the circumstances).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @10:13PM (#47168927)

    Actually, I agree with all of the leaks and believe their foreign spying was immoral.

    What about the bandwagon fallacy that many authoritarians spew forth in an effort to justify the spying? "Everyone is doing it, so it's okay!" Well, no, it's not, because everyone has rights, and we shouldn't violate even the rights of foreigners without a damn good reason (i.e. evidence that they're enemies).

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:29AM (#47169413)

    The problem with this is that what is that even going to accomplish?

    Let me ask you a question: Do you really and truly believe that taking no action will make things better, worse, or will the corruption remain the same? In the best case scenario, things remain the same (being illegal and unconstitutional). Historically however, inaction more often results in things becoming worse. Inaction never results in things improving, at least for the recipients of the abuse.

    Many constitutional rights violations are felonies. Convicted felons can not hold a security clearance and can not work for an agency such as the NSA in any capacity. Other agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, do have jobs that do not require a clearance, but depending on the job classification can (and often do) restrict convicted felons from filling those positions.

    Any cabinet member can be impeached by Congress, and the reasons for impeachment include misdemeanor offenses. In other words, Congress can remove the head of the NSA, CIA, FBI, DOJ, etc... by vote. The primary motivation for impeachment is very sensitive to issues of Constitutional violations (see this [] for a reference).

    The false analogy you provide, of "no punishemtn" or "go to jail" is simply not true. Being banned from working a career you have spent your life doing is a punishment, as is being barred from holding jobs or offices in the future, loss of retirement, etc...

    We would probably agree that the punishment may not be severe enough. If you believe that doing nothing is a better answer, you are not thinking very clearly. Exactly why do you think we have numerous historical quotes from people telling you to take action? Like Martin Niemöller

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the
    Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

    or Edmund Burke

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @02:25AM (#47169717) Journal

    If that dog only ate your homework the consequence is limited between that dog and you

    But in the reality is that the dog, aka, the Government of the United States of America, has eaten the Constitution

    The Constitution of the United States of America used to be the HIGHEST LAW OF THE LAND, used to be , no longer, because the way that motherfucking dog is behaving, it not only ignores the Constitution, it goes directly AGAINST what the United States of America is all about !

    We call ourselves a "democracy", we call ourselves "the land of the free, home of the braves" ?

    Well ... the only FREE thing is the freedom of that fucking dog in destroying the country, and the BRAVERY of the government to LIE UNDER OATH !!

    It's not that I like to swear, it's not that I enjoy using vulgar words, but as an American, I simply can't stand any longer what is going on !!

  • by jelIomizer ( 3670957 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @03:55AM (#47169899)

    Um, no... the NRA is still the only organization that FIGHTS for the 2nd amendment.

    They don't do a very good job of it. In fact, they seem to do a very good just of 'compromising' away rights. For instance, I believe the NRA said that it doesn't have problems with restricting people with criminal records, or people with mental health issues.

    If you take the position that the 2nd amendment means that modern weaponry is fine (Which I do.), then you can't arbitrarily decide that it doesn't protect certain weaponry that you find scary. Yet, many types of guns are banned, and certain people are forbidden from owning them. That's unconstitutional if you're using such an interpretation.

    and have been far too willing to go mushy on the 1st and 2nd when their left-wing friends are stomping on them.)

    I am aware that their interpretation of the 2nd amendment differs from ours, but when have they gone mushy on the 1st amendment?

    If the government resumed the draft today, I suspect there'd be a lot of left-wing Obama supporters who'd SUPPORT the draft and turn-in anybody trying to escape to Canada!

    Yes, typical hypocritical partisan hacks who don't give a shit about freedom. They exist on both sides. Another group that's pathetically hypocritical are those who say that they want small government and that the government is often incompetent and downright corrupt (So far, this applies to me.), but when it comes to things such as the NSA's mass surveillance, they say the government is full of perfect little angels who would never make mistakes or abuse their powers. Sickening.

  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:02AM (#47170127) Homepage Journal

    Here's a new sneaky approach, less destructive but so far effective: U.S. Marshals Seize Cops’ Spying Records to Keep Them From the ACLU []

  • Bad DOJ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:07AM (#47170153)

    And the DOJ did not assert the EFF was on a "fishing expedition"; it argued that it misunderstood the scope of discovery, and would not have destroyed the information in question if it did (which seems highly improbable given the circumstances).

    That is an unbelievably stupid argument by the DOJ. It's common sense that when the court orders you to preserve documents, you hold on to any documents which may remotely be affected at all. This is a clear cut case of contempt of court and ought to be prosecuted as such.

    The DOJ is setting a fine example for all other law abiding citizens out there. I expect to see more "I misunderstood the scope of discovery" excuses in forthcoming civil and criminal cases.

  • by dwpro ( 520418 ) < minus city> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:48AM (#47170655)

    I am a gun owner and supporter of the 2nd amendment, but I believe it's a fair reading of the 2nd amendment that the "well regulated militia" can be interpreted to not include folks who can be judged incompetent to own a weapon, though there should be due process on this decision. Even if such a provision did not exist, I would imagine other provisions would justify limited gun regulation. if the govt can take away your children for incompetence, surely they can take away your weapons. I agree with you on the modern weaponry question, however.

  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:59AM (#47170687)

    You still have the freedom to be brave and bash your government and the government has the freedom to bash your head for it.

    Spoken by an Anonymous Coward.

    There's being brave and then there's being suicidal.

    The United States of America had many Anonymous Cowards who agitated for Freedom. They were anonymous - or pseudonomous - because they wanted to be able to keep on saying it instead of saying it once, dying, and having no further voice in the matter. Some had to flee the country entirely.

    Of course, we are much more civilized today, and we'd never see anyone have to flee just because they spoke up for freedom and the Constitution now.

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