EFF, Human Rights Watch Sue The DEA Over Mass Surveillance Program

from the good-timing dept

Well, that was quick. As we noted, just yesterday, USA Today published a detailed takedown of the DEA’s massive phone records mass surveillance program that was actually started more than two decades ago. And this morning, the EFF, representing Human Rights Watch, filed a lawsuit over the program. Of course, the program had actually been revealed years ago, and back in January, the US government revealed some details itself about the program, which is what prompted the new lawsuit. As the EFF notes in its press release about the lawsuit:

?The DEA?s program of untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans? international telephone call records?information about the numbers people call, and the time, date, and duration of those calls?affects millions of innocent people, yet the DEA operated the program in secret for years,?? said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. ?Both the First and Fourth Amendment protect Americans from this kind of overreaching surveillance. This lawsuit aims to vindicate HRW?s rights, and the rights of all Americans, to make calls overseas without being subject to government surveillance.?

I recommend reading the full complaint which has more details. It details why the program violates both the First and Fourth Amendments. The basic First Amendment argument:

By their acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated and are violating the First Amendment free speech and free association rights of Plaintiff and its staff, including the right to communicate anonymously, the right to associate privately, and the right to engage in protected advocacy free from government interference.

And the Fourth Amendment argument:

By the acts alleged herein, Defendants have violated Plaintiff?s reasonable expectation of privacy and denied Plaintiff its right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

It seems likely that the government will pull out all the usual stops to try to end this lawsuit, arguing “national security” and “state secrets” and all that jazz. However, as the USA Today report noted, Eric Holder agreed to kill off this program after realizing that it was nearly impossible to defend in the same manner as the feds were trying to defend the NSA’s bulk phone records collection…

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Comments on “EFF, Human Rights Watch Sue The DEA Over Mass Surveillance Program”

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Anonymous Coward says:

>However, as the USA Today report noted, Eric Holder agreed to kill off this program after realizing that it was nearly impossible to defend in the same manner as the feds were trying to defend the NSA’s bulk phone records collection…

So the only time he does his job well, is when he doesn’t do his job? Is that why they haven’t indited Clapper, and the Banks?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DEA?

A big question is why the DEA even needs to exist, especially in light of states’ moves toward drug legalization. If anything, maybe the DEA and the CIA should be combined into one agency. Maybe then they won’t be in bed with with the other agency’s adversaries, as has happened so frequently throughout the world over the last several decades.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Drug Enforcment Agency

Technically it’s because we have a shit ton of recreational substances that are trafficked into the US. Mostly pot, yes, but also heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine are big commodities).

(Powder cocaine is also still trafficked

Now the DEA was formed largely due to the infrastructure that rises from mass trafficking. It’s white-collar crime with guns, so the local precincts were too lightly armed to deal with big organized crime. Now they’re adequately armed but poorly trained, and, as with the prohibition era, most cops and judges that brush against the drug trade are on the take.

That’s the justification for the DEA. Whether or not it actually does this job, or rather perpetuates the problem to justify its own existence and in the meantime costing the nation money and civil forfeitures, is a different issue. It seems that law enforcement agencies in general are particularly susceptible to Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

Uriel-238 says:

Re: Re: Re: My incomplete thought.

Powder cocaine is still trafficked into the US, but those who can afford it are usually rich enough to be above the law. There’s also traffic of hundreds of medications available by prescription (though mostly painkillers) which enter the market either through corrupt pharmacists (almost all of them) or through over-prescription.

From what I’ve seen at the bottom end of that, doctors will oversupply their patients so that the extra drugs can be sold / traded to supply all the material needs that insurance doesn’t cover (e.g. crutch-pads, orthopedic sleeping aids, booze and ice-cream for when you realize you have no friends and are going to die literally lame).

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: DEA?

I take it you’re unaware of the CIA’s past and current efforts to enable the illicit drug trade. They’re supporting the heroin producers in Afghanistan now fomenting a heroin epidemic in the proxy war with Russia. Before that it was crack cocaine in CA, and before that it was weed in SE Asia (Air America).

Why we have to pay for two agencies ostensibly doing exactly the opposite things is an exercise left to the reader.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: DEA?

Why we have to pay for two agencies ostensibly doing exactly the opposite things is an exercise left to the reader.

That’s a no brainer actually.

If we did not have the one agency creating the drug problem, we could not have the other agency fighting the drug problem, because, there would be no drug problem to fight.

Keep in mind that this is a double dipping process, where the one agency makes a fortune in un-accountable cash from running the drug trade, while the other agency makes an un-accountable fortune from tax payers, fighting the drug trade.

In USG and MAFIA circles (organized crime circles) its considered to be the biggest and best Win Win business model ever created, since War itself.

And like War, those on the front lines in these phony Wars On Stuff scams are not the ones who start, promote and profit from them.

In fact its so popular, they decided to do the exact same thing with the declared War on Terror, the un-declared War on File-Sharing, and the soon to be announced War on Cyber-Hackers.

One hand manufactures the problem so the other hand can fight the problem.

As long as the hand that creates the crisis is not caught in the act, this whole process makes government appear to be totally necessary – to fight the evil (they created) – to those who cannot see what is directly in front of their faces – like the vast majority of human beings on earth.

Many decades ago, Prohibition One taught both the Mobsters and the Statesmen, just how profitable a morality based contraband substance, or prohibited practice could become and they’ve both been pulling in massive annual profits from the model ever since.

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