WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is asking a secret federal court to let the government keep telephone records collected by the National Security Agency beyond a five-year limit, arguing that it has an obligation to retain evidence in lawsuits it is facing.
Data collected under the NSA's phone records programs are supposed to be destroyed within five years, but lawyers for the government are asking that the records be preserved longer for use as potential evidence in pending lawsuits.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are among those suing to have the phone records program declared unconstitutional.
The request was made in a filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court has not ruled on the request, which was made public Wednesday.
The Justice Department said intelligence analysts would not have access to the retained records and that the data would be kept solely for "purposes of meeting its obligation to preserve potentially relevant evidence in the ongoing civil cases."