Leaked ICE Manual Shows Gov't Allowing Informants To Engage In Illegal Behavior, Impersonate Lawyers, Journalists, And Doctors

from the black-hats-v.-black-hats dept

The 9/11 attacks gave us the DHS. And from that atrocity came ICE. We used to get by with Customs and a Border Patrol, but no, we needed something additional that tied the homeland’s “security” to a new, deeply brutal form of “customs enforcement.” Normally, the word “customs” would suggest the rounding up of illegal imported goods or the collection of duty payments from incoming arrivals.

Instead, we were handed an agency that concerns itself mainly with ejecting people from the country in the most aggressive way possible, cheered on by White House officials and a large group of Americans who view our closest southern nation with deep suspicion and a touch of xenophobia. ICE’s current activities aren’t the fault of the Trump Administration, but this administration has done more than most to take everything that’s bad about ICE (which is a lot) and crank it up to 11.

Warrantless raids, misrepresentation of advocacy efforts, deporting critical journalists… these are all part of ICE’s playbook. But there’s far more to it than this. The official “playbook” for ICE undercover operations basically allow the agency to operate as a criminal operation and engage in illegal activity for the greater good of booting immigrants out of the US.

The guidebook for ICE’s undercover operations has been published by Unicorn Riot, which makes no statements about how it obtained this document. Its Twitter account refers to it as a “leak,” which suggests this wasn’t the result of a FOIA request. Regardless of its origins, it’s a harrowing read. Many of the highlights of the 227-page manual [PDF] can be viewed in UR’s tweet thread. Other details have been posted at its website, which takes a bullet-pointed trip through the entirety of the document.

What is crystal clear is that ICE undercover operations involve informants who are allowed to engage in criminal activity, including fun stuff like trafficking immigrants, purchasing stolen property, drug dealing, paying bribes, entrapment, and anything else that might be deemed “necessary” to ensure the viability of an investigation.

Informants are strongly encouraged not to engage in violent acts or entrapment, but given enough leeway to perform these acts if deemed necessary. The only thing that changes is the number of government officials receiving reports about these departures from policy guidelines.

If these sanctioned illegal acts happen to turn a profit, everyone wins. ICE itself can partake of funds obtained through illegal activity. Some of this is routed back to informants to purchase whatever’s needed to continue the investigation. In many cases, this means funneling funds into purchasing supplies needed for further criminal activity. The funds may also be used to fund ICE itself. It’s perfectly acceptable for ICE to use funds derived from the criminal activity of its informants to cover ICE agent overtime.

ICE is also authorized to create shell companies as cover for investigations. In ICE terminology, this is “backstopping” — providing a credible back story for ICE operations should they happen to be investigated by their investigation targets. This ordained creation of shell companies allows ICE operatives to obtain fake SSNs, brokers licenses, medical degrees, pilots certifications, and immigration documents.

The shell companies themselves are made possible/plausible with the assistance of several federal agencies:

Federally-issued undercover identification/backstopping for undercover proprietary businesses and shell companies can be obtained through the Undercover Operations Unit.

Types of available corporate identification/backstopping include, but are not limited to, the following:

A. Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) (Note: All EINs must be obtained through the Undercover Operations Unit in order to avoid tax issues with the Internal Revenue Service);
B. Dun and Bradstreet reports;
C. Department of Transportation/Motor Carrier numbers;
D. Department of Defense Trade Compliance Registration numbers;
E. Office of Foreign Asset Control License;
F. FAA airplane registration number/certificates;
G. U.S. Coast Guard marine identification; and
H. business credit cards.

Then there’s the list of personas undercover informants can adopt, which include priests/clergy, lawyers, doctors, therapists, and “news media.” Naturally, some of these roles involve the harvesting of privileged communications — even though the privilege is assumed by the person the informant is conversing with and certainly not extended by those working for ICE. But, as the handbook, points out, this puts informants in the position of overhearing actually privileged communications due to the nature of the charade, which may find them conversing with real lawyers, members of the clergy, doctors, and therapists.

This is referred to as “Sensitive Circumstances” by the DHS, an official designation that means nothing more than a case-by-case review rather than the blanket approval it extends to other undercover activities.

The guidebook, issued in 2008, may have seen some updates in recent months, but it’s unlikely anything was added to rein in ICE’s condoned criminal activity. Unicorn Riot notes it has confirmation this manual was still in use as of 2016, so it’s not a relic of one particular administration. It apparently predates Obama’s election and quite possibly extends into Trump’s.

This shows how far our government is willing to go to enforce its laws. It will condone the breaking of laws in the name of enforcing them. The handbook may as well be named “End Justifies The Means” — a 272-page compendium of acceptable means that would be unacceptable if anyone other than the government were engaged in them.

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Comments on “Leaked ICE Manual Shows Gov't Allowing Informants To Engage In Illegal Behavior, Impersonate Lawyers, Journalists, And Doctors”

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59 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

This handbook was published back in 2008, the year that Barack Hussein Obama Jr. became president. Yet no one ever bothered to leak it during Obama’s term, and it’s very likely that it would have continued to remain under wraps had Hillary Rodham Clinton been elected president.

The worst abuses of public trust tend to happen during the reign of popular presidents, and are only revealed during the time of unpopular presidents. One of the best things about the Nixon presidency was that the shocking revelations about the Johnson administration finally spilled out into the public. It’s been a long time, but hopefully Trump will become another Nixon, and many Obama-era abuses that “the resistance” never seemed to have any problem with (until Trump took the reins) will finally see the light of day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Why does it even matter if it is partisan? I didn’t trust Obama, I definitely don’t trust Trump. Besides, while Trump is the president, I don’t blame him for ICE. That isn’t fair as president needs to macromanage. I will blame him if nothing happens in the next few months though to fix the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Although Obama is more likable, Trump is more trustworthy. Trump has kept his campaign promises, while Obama did the opposite. Some people would rather have an authoritarian regime which acts authoritarian, and triggers immediate outrage, than an authoritarian regime which pretends to act non-authoritarian.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"I’m going to build a wall."

Going up as we speak.

Citation needed.

Last I heard, some relatively small amount of funding had been allocated to repair (and maybe extend) existing, approved fencing designs, none of which come anywhere close to the wall he’s talked about. So far as I’m aware, that’s as close to anything like construction on a border wall as we’ve come.

For that matter, if the wall were indeed "going up as we speak", why would Trump be insisting so hard that Congress allocate funds ($25 billion, often cited as the full cost of the project) to it in a bill to fix the family-separation-at-the-border problem?

David says:

Misleading characterization

This shows how far our government is willing to go to enforce its laws.

Enforcing laws had nothing to do with it, dearie. This is about meeting objectives, and those objectives are the results of directives that can at best loosely be characterized as being inspired by laws.

Basically, once laws are filtered through politics and convenience, we end up with a setup for organized crime that has been molded to be reasonably matched to current politicians’ pockets and propaganda in order to benefit from significant streams of taxpayer money on a continuing basis.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Xenophobic? Riiiighhht...

> a large group of Americans who view our closest southern
> nation with deep suspicion and a touch of xenophobia

Well, when Mexico’s leading presidential candidate is telling his entire country to leave Mexico and illegally flood into the U.S., that suspicion is both justified and hardly xenophobic.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “And soon, very soon — after the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world. Migrating to the United States is a human right. All Mexicans should leave their towns and find a life in the United States.”

Can you imagine if an American presidential candidate told the American people, “It’s over folks. This country is so horrible and corrupt that it’s a lost cause. I encourage all Americans to just leave and find somewhere else to live. Pick up whatever you can carry and just go to Canada because I’m not going to do anything to try and make this country livable for you. But vote for me anyway before you go!”

This is the same guy who has proposed granting amnesty to Mexican drug cartels. America is now Mexico’s social safety net, and that’s a very good deal for the Mexican ruling class, who can continue to live their opulent and corrupt lifestyles without fear of being ousted by their increasingly dissatisfied citizens. Mexico just sends them north for us to deal with.

Apparently in Cushing’s world, anything but full-throated endorsement of that nonsense makes us “xenophobic”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Xenophobic? Riiiighhht...

The last sentence of the quote is false.

Original in Spanish:
“Y ya pronto, muy pronto, al triunfo de nuestro movimiento, vamos a defender a los migrantes de México, de América Central, de todo el continente americano y a todos los migrantes del mundo que por necesidad tienen que abandonar sus pueblos para irse a buscar la vida a Estados Unidos, es un derecho humano que vamos a defender para todos los mexicanos y para los migrantes”.

The context here is that he is commenting on the ongoing imprisonment and inhumane treatment of immigrants. He is not telling anyone to go to the US, he is saying that those who chose to go should be treated with respect and dignity, as human beings.

Translation:
“And soon, very soon – after the triumph of our movement – we will defend all of the migrants of Mexico, of Central America, of the whole American continent, and all of the migrants of the world who by necessity have to abandon their towns to find a life in the United States, it is a human right that we will defend for all Mexicans and for all migrants.”

Source: https://mexico.quadratin.com.mx/pide-lopez-obrador-intervencion-urgente-de-la-onu-ante-ninos-migrantes/

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Xenophobic? Riiiighhht...

Reports I can find on this speech, such as The Daily Caller, don’t have that exact quote you use. His language in these reports seems much more moderate, with reporters attributing the commentary of ‘should leave their towns and find a life in the United States.’ to immigrants, not all Mexicans, but does not quote his direct words. The commentary of defending migrants is valid, as legal immigrants and even US citizens have been deported in the legal farce of a deportation system we use. As well while he notes migration as a human right, he does not appear to note that migration to the US is a human right from reports I’ve read. The daily Caller reports as well that his statements were presented in a different order than you present here, which questions it’s status as a direct quote. Specifically the line about migration as a human right was clearly noted to be later in the speech. Stripped of your attempts to frame it as an anti-american statement, with the proper order and context, it seems far less aggressive then, say, a president calling for a country to be nuked on twitter.

While You might present a source that provides different context, it seems your big evidence was a frankenbite designed to produce aggression where there is none.

But sure, criticizing the hypocrisy of running human and drug trafficking rings to stop the human and drug traffickers from Mexico from invading our country means lets just give up our country.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Xenophobic? Riiiighhht...

There are other reasons why a country’s government might encourage its people to migrate outside the country’s borders. It’s no secret that Israel not only encourages its “people” to settle in occupied territory, but heavily subsidizes them when they do (Jews only, of course, as Arab Israelis are banned from these taxpayer-funded settlements that they helped pay for).

Mexican nationalists could be following a similar ideology. Keeping in mind that Mexico lost much of its territory due to illegal immigration into what was then Mexico, the same tactic could be applied in reverse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconquista_(Mexico)

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Xenophobic? Riiiighhht...

Even if everything you said in your post is true

And, by the by, it’s not.

López Obrador is not telling anyone to flood the border, but saying that he will defend those who find themselves with no other option but to relocate to the United States. The quote was delivered in the wake of news of the Trump administration’s rampant separation of families at the border.

So yes, Mr. 1701, you’re spreading an Internet hoax based on a quote intentionally taken out of context. You either knew that, or you were taken in by it because you did not bother to verify the story before sharing it — I guess you must have just believed it because it reinforced your existing beliefs.

And if your existing beliefs were that Mexico wants to flood America with immigrants…well yeah, dogg, that sounds a little xenophobic to me.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Xenophobia is not about Mexicans wanting to flee to the US...

Xenophobia is about calling the Mexicans seeking to flee to the US criminal and rapist.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure our peerless leader here in the US would celebrate if all the blacks, latins and sundry non-whites all got the fuck out of dodge to wherever (with a poor white person under each arm!). And the thing is, we all occasionally will have an inclination to move to greener pastures when the one we’re in is looking barren.

But that doesn’t mean migrants are violent or shiftless or malicious, and xenophobia is about looking at those less fortunate (such as migrants) and assuming they are.

And yet, we’ve been hearing that a lot. We’ve been hearing about how high percentages of crime come from settling immigrants which is just plain not true. We’ve been hearing about latin gangs not concerned at all about the numerous and populous gangs of US-born citizens we have right here in the US.

And we don’t hear about how our nations totally contributed to the causes of these migratory shifts, or in those cases we didn’t, completely neglected to address the situation before it turned into a refugee problem.

ECA (profile) says:

When?

When I can stand in my yard, and NOT KNOW what laws pertain to myself and others..
When those laws are different for Every other human..Based on geography, skin color, …, ….
But Esp when its ONLY 1 area of this planet..because they are THERE..

WE try to run around this planet FIXING problems, All of them for the Middle east oil corps(not the nations), and we DONT even help those countries in our OWN area..
We have paid billions to fight drugs in South America…and most of it went to the drug lords..WE PAID for them..
still do..

renosablast (profile) says:

Spare me your blatantly obvious Trump bias Tim. “but this administration has done more than most to take everything that’s bad about ICE (which is a lot) and crank it up to 11.”

In other words, this administration is the first one in quite some time that has decided to actually ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS!. Laws that were created by PREVIOUS administrations. Laws that WE AS AMERICANS elected him to uphold.

It is hardly his, nor his supporters fault that previous administrations allowed the situation to deteriorate so badly that the only way to fix it now is with aggressive enforcement.

If we do as Tim seems to prefer, then nothing gets fixed and the situation continues to get worse. You have to be walking through life with blinders on (or one’e head inserted in one’s rectum) to not see the damage that this unchecked stream of non-citizens coming into America and never leaving. So let’s criticize the only someone in ages who actually wants to FIX THE FREAKING PROBLEM!!

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

What is crystal clear is that ICE undercover operations involve informants who are allowed to engage in criminal activity, including fun stuff like trafficking immigrants, purchasing stolen property, drug dealing, paying bribes, entrapment, and anything else that might be deemed "necessary" to ensure the viability of an investigation.

So uh what part of that would be "enforcing the laws that are on the books", Reno?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In other words, this administration is the first one in quite some time that has decided to actually ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS!. Laws that were created by PREVIOUS administrations. Laws that WE AS AMERICANS elected him to uphold.

Really? It soulds a lot like 8 U.S. Code § 1158 – Asylum is not being enforced:

Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.

If that law were being enforced, you wouldn’t hear about asylum seekers being turned back at the borders or ICE detaining asylum seekers at the border.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Family Detention

If that law were being enforced, you wouldn’t hear about asylum seekers being turned back at the borders or ICE detaining asylum seekers at the border.

ICE is detaining people who crossed over the border illegally. At this point, it is doing so in exactly the same manner Obama did. You just didn’t care when Obama did it.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The compulsion to accept asylum seekers...

…may, agreed, not be part of ICE or CBP policy.

But it is chartered in explicit detail in the Geneva conventions and through international law.

Our dear president may decide to dismiss the Geneva Conventions (though at risk of international tribunal, if ever he finds himself in a position to be extradited to Nuremberg), and according to US policy all US soldiers and officers of law enforcement are mandated to understand and obey international law. So if they individually turn away or deport asylum seekers, they can be held accountable.

Also, it’s cruel and inhumane. Asylum seekers generally are running from something much scarier than the misery they’re going into.

As for why not keeping them imprisoned, that’s because the process takes years, sometimes decades. And imprisonment for that long is also cruel and inhumane.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3

But these are often wars and wartime circumstances. Are you going to tell me we should reject them because their circumstances don’t match your technical definitions? Are you that cold and heartless?

The danger they are trying to escape doesn’t care whether it meets your notions of what is or isn’t legit, and neither, for that matter, does that change refusing them from a crime against humanity. By refusing them, our officials responsible (down to the individual arresting officer) can be tried and held accountable by international tribunal.

cruiserbob (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You should do some reading on international law, before you try to make arguments based in international law. You have an interesting concept of what might be able to be tried by international tribunal (and by “interesting concept” I mean “gross misunderstanding”).

Given that the actions you are talking about can only possibly happen on the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, and neither Mexico nor Canada are currently at war, no, these aren’t wars and wartime circumstances.

And it doesn’t make me cold and heartless to tell you that you’re clueless about international or US law. The discussion here, and your understanding of relevant laws or lack thereof doesn’t make any difference in the lives of the people who are seeking asylum. I’m not making policy, neither are you, and it’s likely that no one else reading this is either. But on the off chance that you run into a policy-maker, you should have valid arguments available, so that you don’t spew a lot of bogus garbage and have the policy maker say, “Wow, that dude was really clueless.”

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Deporter-in-Chief

In other words, this administration is the first one in quite some time that has decided to actually ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT ARE ON THE BOOKS!.

You can be forgiven for having that false impression. The media gave great cover to Obama. Even when they did report on his misdeeds, they did so with little enthusiasm and liberals at large did not latch onto it and whip themselves into a frenzy.

Tim is engaging in selective outrage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Obama ICE and. Trump ICE

It would seem that the many abuses by ICE during the Obama administration that were frequently reported on this site have been completely forgotten. For just one example, the mass seizure of domain names from many hundreds of sites that were not doing anything illegal. If ICE has reassigned its copyright enforcement brigade to border security, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

Techdirt was once focused on topics like copyright enforcement abuse (which ICE was a major culprit) before taking a more SJW turn and becoming an open borders advocate.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: There's that term again. SJW

Perhaps Techdirt has gone SJW because so many social justice matters have become critical.

Copyright is one such matter, but its far from the only one.

Incidentally, when you use the term SJW, Anonymous Coward it implies that you are against social justice, id. est. pro-authoritarianism. I get that you don’t like some people who are reactionary or extremist, but that has less to do with what their intention is, and more to do with the struggle to think things through.

Using SJW implies you don’t think everyone should get a fair shake, and that does make you antagonistic to anyone you so categorize, not to mention those of us who are inclusion absolutists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The new N-word. SJW

I decided to start using “SJW” a little while ago because I just read Mike Masnick say he was bothered by it in a comment in last week’s Jordan Peterson article. I also found this article on its history. (with a deceptive title, since the article says the term was around decades before “Gamergate”)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/10/07/why-social-justice-warrior-a-gamergate-insult-is-now-a-dictionary-entry/

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The new N-word. SJW

The problem is that when one takes on a particular persona, there are other things that get left behind (I have left this link previously, apparently you did not follow it. Do so, now. So that you will not live in such ignorance forever). If one is only about social justice, they might forget that there are other, legitimate, points of view. Labels don’t necessarily qualify or quantify anyone, but they are easy to apply. Often, though, they are not just inaccurate, but don’t tell a whole truth. Which is as much as a lie.

Uriel-238 says:

Re: Re: Re: "because Mike Masnick was bothered by it"

So…open psychological warfare.

Antagonistic input for human beings.

You’re not participating in this forum, rather you’re attacking with psychological payloads.

Well, at least we know you’re outright hostile.

To be fair, that is exactly Karl Rove’s campaign strategy for George W. Bush, and has since been part of the GOP campaign.

It’s also Putin’s strategy for inciting unrest in the US and influencing the 2016 election.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Obama ICE and. Trump ICE

Techdirt was once focused on topics like copyright enforcement abuse (which ICE was a major culprit) before taking a more SJW turn

We’ve always been in favor of more open borders. Not "open borders" but, "more open borders" and have written about it for years, going back to the Bush administration. But, hey, if you want to lie and pretend we’ve taken a turn go for it.

I’m kind of amazed at how people suddenly think we’ve changed based on whether or not they like the person in the White House.

As for the use of the stupid and meaningless "SJW" phrase, I would guess that most people you think of as "SJWs" disagree with most of the stuff we believe here. But, sure, just because we disagree with us on immigration, you’re now going to label us. Because that’s… real smart.

We’re not "social justice warriors." We’re just advocates for civil liberties, freedom and innovation. I apologize if that offends you.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Funds obtained through illegal activity.

Illegal business tends to be more profitable than legal business. Business that is hazardous but only as profitable as legit business is avoided. Business that is not hazardous is usually not prohibited.

So, giving our law enforcement to engage in illicit business essentially turns them into a racketeering syndicate. The mob.

No wonder everyone wins. Except the dead people and the incarcerated people and the people who got their stuff seized.

I’ve already ranted elsewhere about how profits already drive police forces to seize property or (in history) torture confessions out of people. Once there’s a profit motive it changes the mission of the institution.

Anonymous Coward says:

So basically ICE now “authorizes” assassinations, murder, violent beating of anyone that won’t assist their drug empire, hacking, misappropration of government funds and a whole host of other offences.

And they’re supposed to be the good guys?
Essentially ICE got infiltrated and taken over by organized crime and needs to be shut down ASAP

David says:

Re: Re:

So basically ICE now "authorizes" assassinations, murder, violent beating of anyone that won’t assist their drug empire, hacking, misappropration of government funds and a whole host of other offences.

And they’re supposed to be the good guys?

Uh no? They are supposed to do what they are paid for. They are not paid for being good guys.

Essentially ICE got infiltrated and taken over by organized crime and needs to be shut down ASAP

Uh, that’s like saying the Mafia got infiltrated and taken over by organized crime.

They are following their missive given by the government within the parameters permitted by the government. That’s all. Completely outrageous by design.

Anonymous Coward says:

If the quote from the Presidential candidate is to be beleieved, then it’s a small wonder there’s xenophobia. It is harder for an American to immigrate to another country due to political repression and violence. Lets say a fellow wanted to go to Denmark or Canada. He would have a hell of time doing so.

cruiserbob (profile) says:

I couldn’t get past the opening paragraph without being stunned at the lack of awareness shown by the author. I haven’t gotten to the meat of the article, because I had to comment on the sheer ignorance demonstrated.

“And from that atrocity [the creation of DHS] came ICE.” – it’s an atrocity to want to prevent future attacks of the sort that 9/11 was? And ICE didn’t really come from it, since ICE wasn’t *created*, it was just INS’s enforcement arm with a new name and Customs investigators added in. And then the you go on to ignore the fact that the I in ICE stands for immigration and harps on how this doesn’t match their idea of what “customs” is.

ICE has a lot of things to complain about, but at least educate yourself as to what you’re complaining about, so you don’t say ignorant things in your first paragraph and keep people from reading the rest of what you’ve got to say.

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