Okay, so we were just talking about other government agencies wanting
data from the NSA. The NY Times story claimed that the NSA was regularly turning down such requests. Except... this morning Reuters broke the news that the NSA, along with the CIA, FBI, IRS and Homeland Security, are actually funneling data to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
and (even worse) the DEA is then instructed to lie about
where it gets the evidence.
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.
"I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."
As the article notes, the DEA doesn't just hide the actual details from those they're prosecuting, but even from judges and US attorneys in the Justice Department. Basically, it looks like the NSA is illegally giving the DEA info, and then the DEA is figuring out ways to pretend it got that info from legal sources. That goes way, way, way beyond what is supposed to be happening.
"Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function," a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to 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."
And this isn't just for extreme cases either. Reuters says that two separate senior DEA officials said that this technique "is used almost daily." As the Reuters report explains, the info from the NSA might, for example, highlight a particular vehicle that may be involved in a drug effort (remember, the NSA isn't supposed to collect or look at info on things happening in the US), and then DEA officials will be told something like "look for this vehicle in this place." The DEA will then ask "state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle," leading to a search. Then they later claim that the arrest and finding drugs came because of a "routine traffic stop" rather than NSA surveillance dragnet efforts.
There's a lot more in the article, including a variety of DEA officials insisting that there's nothing wrong with this sort of thing... balanced out by a variety of defense attorneys pointing out that it's unconstitutional to hide where information for an investigation came from. It is a fundamental aspect of basic due process that those accused of crimes get the details of the evidence and the investigation that lead to their arrests. That the DEA appears to be actively covering up this information, and that it's been standard operating procedure for decades
, is immensely troubling.