Following the explosion of controversy surrounding the information provided by whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s vast and unConstitutional spying, many surveillance-loving politicians have met the airwaves with a unified message: The tactics the NSA uses, even the unConstitutional ones, protect the American public from terrorists.
But, quite unsurprisingly, there are a number of NSA-like surveillance and investigation tactics being employed by law enforcement agencies at all levels of the Federal government — and most have little to do with terror.
A recent Reuters report reveals the Drug Enforcement Administration’s cart blanche authority to use intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to launch criminal investigations in the United States.
Documents obtained by the news agency reveal how the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD) — which includes operatives from the FBI, CIA, NSA, Department of Homeland Security and Internal Revenue Service — bends Constitutional rules to conduct criminal investigations in the Americas.
Reuters details how SOD compiles a case against a suspect and rearranges evidence in order to avoid having prosecutions thwarted because unConstitutional investigation tactics were employed:
The undated [SOD] documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
Government and law enforcement officials call the aforementioned recasting of an investigation to make it meet Constitutional muster “parallel construction.” In the “parallel construction” version of an investigation, agents are specifically instructed never to reveal nor discuss the existence and use of SOD-provided data and to further “omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use ‘normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.’”
The last bit is perhaps the most disturbing, because it admits that investigators will violate Constitutional protections to get the dirt they want before recreating the information — i.e., making it look as if it weren’t collected in a criminal manner — to present to a court.
The SOD and the NSA operate different types of surveillance missions; but, according to leaked information provided by Snowden, they routinely share resources and evidence. For instance, Reuters reports: “The SOD forwards tips gleaned from NSA intercepts, wiretaps by foreign governments, court-approved domestic wiretaps and a database called DICE to federal agents and local law enforcement officers. The DICE database is different from the NSA phone-records database. DICE consists of about 1 billion records, and is primarily a compilation of phone log data that is legally gathered by the DEA through subpoenas or search warrants.”
Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a Federal judge from 1994 to 2011, told Reuters: “I have never heard of anything like this at all.
“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner continued. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying-up investigations.”
And, according to Forbes contributor Rick Ungar, the DEA is doing just that:
Accordingly to a former federal agent, the SOD ‘tip’ system works as follows:
“You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it.”
When the SOD tip leads to an arrest, the agents then pretend that the drug bust was the surprise result of pulling the vehicle over as a routine traffic stop.
So secretive is the program, SOD requires that agents lie to the judges, prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys involved in a trial of a defendant busted as a result of SOD surveillance—a complete and clear violation of every American’s right to due process, even when that American is a low-life drug dealer.
So the NSA is turning information over to domestic law enforcement for reasons having nothing at all to do with terrorist activities. Then, the domestic agencies are using the NSA data to make arrests, being careful to not reveal that the information leading to the arrests was provided by a surveillance mechanism introduced to the public as a tool to combat terror.
The Constitution, it seems, has drowned in alphabet soup.
Note from the Editor: Under the Obama Administration, the NSA, the IRS, and the State and Justice departments are blatantly stepping on Americans’ privacy—and these are just the breaches we’re aware of. I’ve arranged for readers to get a free copy of The Ultimate Privacy Guide so you can be protected from any form of surveillance by anyone—government, corporate or criminal. Click here for your free copy.