President Donald J. Trump accused the National Security Agency of violating the privacy of U.S. citizens with improper gathering of phone calls.
“Wow! The NSA has deleted 685 million phone calls and text messages. Privacy violations? They blame technical irregularities. Such a disgrace. The Witch Hunt continues!” Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Witch Hunt” is how the president typically refers to the probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. But it is unclear how the incident may be connected to the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Wow! The NSA has deleted 685 million phone calls and text messages. Privacy violations? They blame technical irregularities. Such a disgrace. The Witch Hunt continues!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2018
The NSA announced in a statement on Thursday that it had deleted all CDRs since 2015 because of “technical irregularities” in the data collected.
“These irregularities also resulted in the production to NSA of some CDRs that NSA was not authorized to receive. Because it was infeasible to identify and isolate properly produced data, NSA concluded that it should not use any of the CDRs,” the statement said.
The agency had learned about the irregularities “a few months ago” but began deleting CDRs on May 23rd and didn’t announce it until June 28th.
“NSA notified the Congressional Oversight Committees, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and the Department of Justice of this decision,” the statement said.
The NSA used Title V and FISA, laws that allow for surveillance if there is probable cause, to obtain the CDRs “which do not include the content of any calls.”
The American Civil Liberties Union responded to Trump on Twitter saying, “Instead of pushing to expand surveillance laws like you did last year, join us in calling for reform when NSA powers expire next year.”