The National Security Agency is making an ironic excuse for why it can’t stop deleting data evidence that could be used against it, despite receiving multiple court orders to stop – it doesn’t know how.

Technology focused privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which currently has a case pending against NSA alleging the agency illegally intercepted client data, discovered through a Justice Department email slip-up last week that the agency was deleting evidence it had already been ordered to keep by multiple courts.

After failing to comply with an order to retain data collected under both executive authority and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority, DOJ claimed in March it misunderstood the order to read it only had to keep data acquired under the former. Pointing to documents proving otherwise, a FISA Court judge accused the department of attempting to mislead the court, and again ordered the retention of data in both circumstances.

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