Conservative and environmental organizations have grouped together to file a lawsuit against the National Security Agency for access to the communication records of top Environmental Protection Agency officials.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute alleges that top EPA staffers have consistently used their personal phones and email accounts for EPA business — a violation of federal record-keeping laws, according to The Hill. The group has since tried to obtain such records via the Freedom of Information Act, but was told that thousands of communications — including texts belonging to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy — were already deleted.
Now the institute, along with the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, allege the NSA has such records and has repeatedly refused to turn them over, saying the agency “cannot acknowledge the existence or non-existence of such information” due to its classified nature.
“Here there have been clear public admissions that the NSA has collected telephone and text message metadata, the very records requesters have sought,” the groups said in the lawsuit filed against the agency early this week.
The group first asked for communications between McCarthy and her predecessor, Lisa Jackson, in 2013, claiming that the agency’s top brass conduct too much work-related activity from personal devices and accounts, which effectively hides its content from the public. Conservatives claim Jackson, in particular, asked a lobbyist to contact her through a personal email address.
Since the leaks of classified bulk surveillance programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began last year, the signals intelligence agency has repeatedly asserted it does not collect the content intercepted in communications, claiming that only metadata, including numbers, durations and time stamps are recorded.