From The Washington Times:
The National Security Agency’s phone-snooping program ended six months ago this Saturday, but the government is still holding on to the mountain of data it piled up over the previous five years, worrying civil liberties advocates who say it’s time to start expunging the legally questionable information.
Government officials say they no longer access the information, but the intelligence community’s past behavior has some civil libertarians skeptical of those assurances. And the mere existence of the data, which includes the time, duration and numbers involved in phone calls, worries critics who say there’s no reason for it to be sitting under government control.
The intelligence community, though, says its hands are tied — chiefly by the very same advocates who are demanding that most of the data be expunged.
Some of those groups are helping pursue lawsuits seeking damages from the government’s snooping program, and courts have ordered all of the data to be preserved. That means the NSA can’t purge the information, even though it says it wants to.
“We take seriously the public’s concerns about the government’s retention of bulk telephony metadata collected under the now-terminated bulk metadata program,” said Timothy Barrett, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Retention of this data is necessary to comply with preservation obligations in civil litigation challenging that program, including court orders entered in two of those cases.”
The phone records program began under President George W. Bush and was kept in place by President Obama, based on…