The NSA was outed for maintaining information it should have deleted.

The NSA was outed for maintaining information it should have deleted. (Credit: Wikipedia, NSA Headquarters)

A judge with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, where America’s intelligence agents go to get approval for secret spy operations, expressed concern top feds weren’t deleting information they collected off the Internet on unsuspecting individuals – in potential violation of law, recently declassified documents showed.

Judge Thomas Hogan named the National Security Agency as “potentially” in violation of law, and said the office broke “several provisions” of its own internal policies, the Hill reported, citing the November 2015 opinion that was just made public. He also said he was “extremely concerned” the data hadn’t been deleted and the agency maintained its possession of such, in seeming violation of policy and law, the Hill reported.

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Hogan further said he was concerned about actions at the FBI, including that agency’s seeming failure to abide rules that upheld attorney-client protections in several cases in 2014 and 2015.

The FISA Court, a federal entity, was authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and always meets in secret, behind closed doors. Critics claim the court has become little more than a means of allowing America’s intel to receive rubber-stamp OKs to place individuals under surveillance without having to go through the constitutional process of obtaining a warrant in open court.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement in response to the declassified documents, saying the violations were simple communications mishaps.

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“The government has informed the court that there was no intent to leave the FISC [FISA Court] with a misimpression or misunderstanding, and it has acknowledged that its prior representations could have been clearer,” the statement read, the Hill reported.

The NSA is supposed to delete data it scoops on the Internet in most cases within five years.

The court had already ordered the NSA to delete certain data collected between 2010 and 2012, and as Hogan wrote, “perhaps more disturbing and disappointing than the NSA’s failure to purge this information … was [its] failure to convey to the court explicitly during that time that the NSA was continuing to retain this information.”

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