Eleven years into the court order levied on the NSA to preserve backup tapes containing data about the NSA surveillance efforts, it’s come to light that the NSA failed to take adequate steps to ensure the data was not deleted. Tapes containing data between 2001-2007 were deleted in 2009, 2011, and 2016, showing a systemic problem with proper data preservation. For an agency that arguably “saves everything,” this news is rather comical. The NSA’s deputy director of capabilities apologized for the failure in an October declaration, while another NSA official claimed the tapes were deleted during “housecleaning efforts aimed at making space for incoming information.” Oddly enough, there was no explanation as to why live incoming information would have been put on backup tapes, adding to the mystery of the real cause of the tape destruction. Thus far, there have been no discussions of sanctions and no requests on U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White to do so, at least yet. The NSA isn’t in a great position, however, since in May 2014, an NSA official assured the court that the data on the tapes was safe. The NSA now claims they are using “extraordinary” effort to try and recover the lost data. However, anyone familiar with how tape rotation works should understand it’s quite likely that the tapes were overwritten with new data, effectively making the old data permanently unreadable. The facts seem to point to a clear case of spoliation, and this time, it’s by one of the U.S. Government agencies that possessed data storage capabilities unsurpassed by any in the world.