The government is considering enlarging the National Security Agency’s controversial collection of Americans’ phone records—an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the surveillance program, according to officials.
A number of government lawyers involved in lawsuits over the NSA phone-records program believe federal-court rules on preserving evidence related to lawsuits require the agency to stop routinely destroying older phone records, according to people familiar with the discussions. As a result, the government would expand the database beyond its original intent, at least while the lawsuits are active.
No final decision has been made to preserve the data, officials said, and one official said that even if a decision is made to retain the information, it would be held only for the purpose of litigation and not be subject to searches. The government currently collects phone records on millions of Americans in a vast database that it can mine for links to terror suspects. The database includes records of who called whom, when they called and for how long.
President Barack Obama has ordered senior officials to end the government storage of such data and find another place to store the records—possibly with the phone companies who log the calls. Under the goals outlined by Mr. Obama last month, the government would still be able to search the call logs with a court order, but would no longer possess and control them.
[Our Comments: Corruption and the quest to retain power knows no bounds. In the end, the only way for the NSA operation to end is for Congress to act. But as Congress itself is one of the most corrupt institutions in American government, not to mention the fact that the NSA is probably well aware of the salient details of that corruption, there is little chance of anything changing.]