The National Security Agency refused to comply with a federal judge this week, arguing that they are just too big and complex to do so.

Responding to a court ruling that demanded the agency stop destroying evidence related to domestic surveillance, the NSA claimed that compliance with the court order “would be a massive and uncertain endeavor,” likely resulting in “severe operational difficulties that could jeopardize national security.”

The order stems from a 2008 lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that aims to uncover details of the agency’s domestic phone and internet surveillance programs.

“The public has a fundamental right to know how the federal government is interpreting surveillance and privacy laws,” EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel said. “If the Office of Legal Counsel has interpreted away federal privacy protections in secret, the public absolutely needs access to that analysis. There is no way for the public to intelligently advocate for reforms when we’re intentionally kept in the dark.”

The NSA has claimed that obtaining such information would require multiple databases and systems to be shut down, a process that would allegedly set the agency back several months.

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