You didn’t really believe them when they said the information they’re digging up was only used to investigate foreign terrorists, did you?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated 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.
The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.
And soon, it’ll be several thousand. And will continue rising from there. It’s the nature of the bureaucratic beast.
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “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,” the agent said.
Which, of course, don’t so much find drugs as react to cues from their dishonest handlers so as to provide an excuse for going over the vehicle with a fine-toothed comb, creating an opportunity for something illegal to be planted in the car if nothing is found.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
Sure. In a lawless, corrupt police state.
“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”
Wherever they like, of course.
One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.
Bold mine. And there you have it. So much for “they’re not spying on Americans.”
As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.
Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.
“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”
And again: that’s how it always is in a police state.
Those who trade liberty for security will lose both, and deserve neither. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. But fret not, folks; Eric Holder’s absolutely honest, non-political, and reliably efficient (In)Justice Department is on the case, and will soon get things sorted out. I’m confident we’ll see the tiny, tiny handful of bad-apple miscreants “brought to justice” any day now.
Trouble up the road update! Insta-Glenn says: “MAYBE SHE’LL OFFER TO PUT THE NSA TO WORK TRACKING DOWN ILLEGAL DOWNLOADERS: Penny Pritzker To Meet With Music Executives In Nashville.” Sure, why not? Who’s gonna stop her? Although it must be said that the one sure-fire way to rouse the Amerikan sheeple into a mindless OUTRAGED! stampede is to threaten their free shit, so who knows.
Jugears lies again update! Oh, please. For God’s sake, stop. Just stop.
Last night on Jay Leno’s show, President Obama denied that the U.S. government engages in anything that constitutes “spying on Americans.”
“We don’t have a domestic spying program,” he said. ”What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat,” Obama explained in a wide-ranging interview. “That information is useful,” the president said, arguing the capability could be important in a situation like the Boston Marathon bombings.
Which, you’ll note, WERE NOT FUCKING STOPPED despite blazing red flags everywhere, and howls of warning from Russia, of all places.
Know what I hate most about His Majesty’s total dishonesty? It’s not so much that he lies–we have to expect that from our rulers in these latter days of our decline and dotage–but that he does so in a way that demonstrates the maximum possible contempt for those he rules. It’s insulting as hell, is what it is.