DEA Wants In On The Fun, Asks DOJ To Give It Permission To Surveil George Floyd Protests

from the GTFO-drug-warriors dept

I thought there was still a Drug War being fought in this county. I guess it's not as important as billions of annual budget dollars would indicate it is. When the going has gotten mildly tougher for US law enforcement agencies, the DEA is there to help out by placing people engaged in First Amendment activities under surveillance.

The demonstrations over George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers have provoked all sorts of responses from government entities. The DEA's is one of the worst. As usual, it's FOIA terrorist Jason Leopold who's managed to obtain a document the DEA probably didn't want shared publicly.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd, according to a two-page memorandum obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Floyd’s death “has spawned widespread protests across the nation, which, in some instances, have included violence and looting,” the DEA memo says. “Police agencies in certain areas of the country have struggled to maintain and/or restore order.” The memo requests the extraordinary powers on a temporary basis, and on Sunday afternoon a senior Justice Department official signed off.

The DEA has always been able to engage in domestic surveillance. Most of its targets reside in the United States. Domestic surveillance to engage in drug-related investigations isn't really the problem here. (This is not to say the DEA's surveillance efforts aren't problematic.) This is the DOJ saying it's okay for an agency that's supposed to be shutting down drug operations to start snooping on protesters. Even if there has been some criminal activity occurring during demonstrations, in recent days this has been the exception, rather than the rule.

The memo [PDF] notes that the law says the DEA's law enforcement powers are supposed to be limited to drug enforcement activity. But there's always a loophole. And that's what the DOJ is using. The memo admits the "federal crimes being committed in the wake of Mr. Floyd's death are largely not drug-related," but says the Attorney General can re-task the DEA as the DOJ sees fit. That's how the DOJ sees it. No further details are discussed in the memo. And the DOJ has nothing to say about what percentage of observed federal crimes to date might have anything to do with drugs.

It appears no one in the DOJ felt the DEA's assistance was necessary. In other words, the DOJ did not ask the DEA if it would be willing to expend its resources surveilling protests for non-drug-related crime. The DEA asked to do this, suggesting it has some underutilized resources that should be budgeted out of the agency when the next appropriations bill comes up for a vote.

It doesn't appear many DEA agents think they should be involved in surveilling protests. The DEA only needed 25 volunteers to do god knows what with their drug investigation expertise. It couldn't get them -- not without stripping the tasking of its voluntary nature.

Two sources knowledgeable about the deployment said 15 people from the DEA’s elite Special Response Team and 10 special agents were chosen. Not all 25 volunteered, the sources said.

Kruskall’s email did not describe what specific tasks the detachment would be given. It added that if insufficient numbers of agents volunteered, others would be assigned the job. According to the sources, fewer than 25 agents raised their hands [when asked to volunteer].

Leopold's DEA sources aren't happy with the DEA's actions. Three people who spoke with Leopold said they were "troubled" by the DEA's desire to send agents to surveil people engaged in protected speech.

And they're correct. The DEA has no business engaging in "covert surveillance" of protests, especially when there's no evidence pointing to drug-related federal crimes being committed. The agency also shouldn't be sending non-volunteers out to help handle protests by "intervening" on regular law enforcement's behalf or arresting protesters for allegedly engaging in criminal acts.

The DEA saw an opportunity to engage in mission creep, if only for a limited time. A DOJ less in thrall to hypocritical "rule of law" notions would have rejected this naked attempt to put DEA boots on First Amendment ground. But that isn't the DOJ we have at the moment. And now we have at least 25 DEA agents burning through tax dollars for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Defund the DEA.

Filed Under: 1st amendment, 4th amendment, dea, doj, george floyd, protesters, protests, surveillance


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 3:43am

    Institutionalized racism is mainlined and perpetuated over the
    generations by the schools, the unemployment epidemic, the drug trade,
    immigration laws, birth control, the army, the prisons.

    Burn them all, just like TIm said. Drugs. What's wrong with DRUGS? DEA? PEE TAPES! THEY'RE ALL CONNECTED!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 4:28am

    The anti military/America smears have stopped working, the attempts to make ANTIFA into the next Al Qaeda that frightens America into silence and compliance have fallen flat, so it's time to dust off the old favourite, Dramatic voice THE WAR ON DRUGS!

    Now watch as they sort through the thousands of unjust arrests to find people with drug convictions and small amounts of weed so they can claim it's all about drugs, that the protests are being manipulated by those they dub thugs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:21am

    The memo [PDF] notes that the law says the DEA's law enforcement powers are supposed to be limited to drug enforcement activity. But there's always a loophole.

    Another example of a law against government bad behavior just being window dressing for a permission slip.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jilocasin (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:34am

    It's well past time

    It's well past time to defund the DEA, that misbegotten spawn of the prohibition era. Alcohol was made illegal and we got a massive law enforcement apparatus built to enforce it. When alcohol was made legal again, we couldn't just disband a perfectly good law enforcement agency now could we? Let's just restask them.

    We don't need to defund the DEA, we need to abolish them. Legalize all drugs. Treat them like alcohol and tobacco (and increasingly like marijuana) and regulate them. Just as most organized alcohol based crime went away with the end of prohibition, the same will happen when other substances become legal.

    All that the DEA has managed to do is:

    • waste billions of dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere
    • fill up our jails and prisons
    • erode our constitutional rights
    • empower police and other law enforcement agencies to act like thugs

    The DEA has long since past any usefulness they might have ever had.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:46am

      Re: It's well past time

      Spawn. Wow, you used that word well. Did you go to English School? Prohibition? Did you read about that? Good for you! You're a student!

      Right. Abolish. Abolish the US. Make it something new. Yeah, you sound credible, let's go with that.

      Pathetic, remember that word, you leftie commie idiots? A small thumb lock that brings your wrist back to 50 degrees and you cry like babies and pee in your pants? Abolish, you superior idiot without a clue about how to survive in the real world. What are you going to abolish, you adult baby?

      GO for it. We love you guys. Moving fucking next door. We will teach you a lesson in civics. Move next to me and Paula in Florida. We'll be your friends. We're nice people. We'll help you, one way or another.

      AND, if you come, we will serve you Omaha steaks, that's the kind of good people we are. Great steaks, trust me on this , my mouth is watering as I write this. Bacon, checken, chitlins, the whole 9 yards, from the best meat producing Americans that ever lived. Wow, great stuff. Burgers, too, I love them a lot.

      COME to FLORIDA! EAT MEAT WITH ME! I guarantee you we will see eye to eye, toe to toe, and ALL MY FRIENDS WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW WE LOVE AMERICA!

      your friend and patriot in arms,

      Dan Bongino

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jilocasin (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 7:35am

        Re: Re: It's well past time

        I think you might need to go back to school. I wrote;

        "We don't need to defund the DEA, we need to abolish them."

        That's the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), not the USA.

        Other than that, there isn't much point in addressing the multitude of ad hominem attacks. If you have a coherent argument on why we should keep the DEA, please present it. I am sure we would all like to read it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:41am

          I think you might need to go back to school.

          Bold of you to assume he went to school in the first place.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 11 Jun 2020 @ 1:32am

          Re: Re: Re: It's well past time

          "If you have a coherent argument on why we should keep the DEA, please present it."

          I don't think you can expect sense, reason or logic from the troll who's been pounding out hundreds of wordwalls in LARGE LETTERS about the evils of "But Obama!".

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 10:00am

      Re: It's well past time

      How are you sure that the main purpose of the DEA wasn't to fill all those brand new Private for Profit Prisons that were being built all over the place...

      I mean the politicians guaranteed capacity and fill rates to the contractors, just to make sure they would make their 1000's of % of profit off of all the slaves, I mean prisoners that they recruit, I mean persecute, wait, prosecute... that's it

      Job well done as far as the politicians are concerned, I'm sure they all got their fulfillment bonuses for getting the prisons to maximum capacity as quickly as possible through bogus drug busts...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:59am

    if it can change course and use funds in this manner, the DEA obviously has too much funding and it needs to be cut, drastically, as soon as possible.
    'The memo requests the extraordinary powers on a temporary basis'
    anyone who thinks these powers will be 'temporary' is dreaming. as with everything government and security services related in the USA, everything done is permanent!
    this is the trouble, it's what happens when those in positions of power are of the same mindset as those who were running everything in Nazi Germany almost 100 years ago! they abuse their power, they inflict it on others of lower position and when shit hits fan, as it is at the moment over racism (in all it's forms) they want to pass the buck, deny doing anything themselves under the 'i didn't do it, i didn't know' umbrellas! typical of every coward!! but while the top dogs are so biased over everything except what they think, what they say, what they do, this will continue because no one has the plums to put different people in the powerful positions, people with sense as well as common sense, people who can get the job done in the correct way rather than under the heels of the jackboot army!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 6:25am

      Re:

      this will continue because no one has the plums to put different people in the powerful positions, people with sense as well as common sense, people who can get the job done in the correct way rather than under the heels of the jackboot army!!

      People can only elect those who stand for an elected position, and given the rottenness of the system, who of integrity and compassion would want to stand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Upstream (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 6:49am

        Re: Re:

        I think this is a greater problem than most people realize. Not many are willing to jump into a cesspool, even if it is for a good cause.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 7:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, that's a concern. When I worked at the 75th precinct in New York City (the big apple), I thought the same. It was just like jumping into a cesspool, murders, rapes, children abused, it was horrifying.

          But then I thought hey, if not me, then who. If not now, when? I think I grew a thick skin, and risked my life to save my countrymen. That was OK, I was happy to do it. I put a lot of guys in chokeholds, that's for sure. But I never shot and killed anybody. Ok so maybe I shot a few, but they didn't die. Well, maybe they died, I mean they died eventually, but they didn't die right then when I shot them or choked them. They recovered, both the choke hold people and the people I shot, at least briefly. For more than a little while. Well, hell, I don't really remember, it was all traumatizing and stuff.

          So yeah, I was a cop. Did I kill people? No! Did people die? Of course! People die every day. They die of corona 19 (a lot!), of bullets to the noggin, from double taps to the heart, but not right away! Even heart shots give the victim a minute or two to confess to God. That's true, I've seen it may times. Ok, well, usually not, usually the people I shot were not very good people or god fearing either. But I didn't kill them. Just bad luck for them, oh well.

          Cesspools, yeah, like Techdirt. It's hard for people like me to hang out here. My friend Donald Trump, he's not afraid of cesspools. He's living in the biggest cesspool city in the known universe, Washington DC. So, he's a patriot. And if he can be a patriot, maybe I can honor him by being a patriot, too.

          And Bill Bar, wow, what a patriot. General Barr, that is. Did you see him take those horses and clear those protesters? Was that amazing? Even Paula kinda got a little hot watching that. Oh, wait, she's giving me the purple light, I'm not supposed to describe our amazing sex life. She says it's not for others. Ok honey!

          Anyway, yes, cesspools. Techdirt. Well, if Trump can do it, and Barr can do it, I guess I can wade in here, too, cesspool that it is. High boots, that's that's the answer.

          And might I suggest that before wading into the next hip-high cesspool, you consider our friends at Patriot Arms and Doomsday Foods. Best guns you can ever buy for cesspool patrol, and you never know when these leftists will unfold doomsday! Be prepared, my patriot friends.

          Your friend and patriot in arms,

          Dan Bongino

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jun 2020 @ 1:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The problem of trying to write a parody of a jackbooted thug in a police uniform is, unfortunately, that all we need to do is to listen to Bob Kroll and we get an identical parody. From a real cop. Heading a police union.

            Poe's Law, recall. You can not parody a clown. All that happens is you sound exactly like the real clown.

            "People die every day. They die of corona 19 (a lot!), of bullets to the noggin, from double taps to the heart, but not right away! Even heart shots give the victim a minute or two to confess to God. That's true, I've seen it may times. Ok, well, usually not, usually the people I shot were not very good people or god fearing either. But I didn't kill them. Just bad luck for them, oh well."

            Would it surprise you to find out that variations on this exact type of logic have been used to exonerate police officers several times already? Initially George Floyd's first autopsy consisted of a police coroner desperately trying to find out that Floyd's death could have been caused by anything besides the established apshyxiation - something later autopsies then overturned completely. Hell, we have a ten minute video of a deliberate murder, with one officer stating they couldn't find a pulse and Chauvin keeping his knee on Floyd's neck for another three minutes. The initial charge? Murder by "Oops".

            It's almost as funny (as in, not at all) as when the official - and effective - police excuse for shooting to death a peaceful black man who was sitting down and eating ice cream, or a black man who was gunned down when an officer mistook his apartment for her own and shot him to death was that the officer "feared for their life".

            Your parody is, in fact, a number of real officers out there who still wear badges when anyone not in uniform would, by now, be featuring on an FBI wall as a serial killer.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 7:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Cesspools, yeah, like Techdirt. It's hard for people like me to hang out here. My friend Donald Trump, he's not afraid of cesspools. He's living in the biggest cesspool city in the known universe, Washington DC. So, he's a patriot. And if he can be a patriot, maybe I can honor him by being a patriot, too.

          And Bill Bar, wow, what a patriot. General Barr, that is. Did you see him take those horses and clear those protesters? Was that amazing? Even Paula kinda got a little hot watching that. Oh, wait, she's giving me the purple light, I'm not supposed to describe our amazing sex life. She says it's not for others. Ok honey!

          Anyway, yes, cesspools. Techdirt. Well, if Trump can do it, and Barr can do it, I guess I can wade in here, too, cesspool that it is. High boots, that's that's the answer.

          And might I suggest that before wading into the next hip-high cesspool, you consider our friends at Patriot Arms and Doomsday Foods. Best guns you can ever buy for cesspool patrol, and you never know when these leftists will unfold doomsday! Be prepared, my patriot friends.

          Your friend and patriot in arms,

          Dan Bongino

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 7:58am

            It's hard for people like me to hang out here.

            Then leave and save us all from your hate-driven mental health breakdown.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:07am

              Re:

              Well, I would, but my friend Donald J. Trump has deemed this site an Opportunity Zone, while my friend Bill Barr has designated it a Terrorist Organization. So, how am I to proceed? You seem like a decent, civic minded fellow. You seem to come to this cesspool freely and without coercion. What's your view? Opportunity Zone or Terrorist Organization?

              Maybe you would like to come for a visit to my house, Mr. Stone. I live in Florida, and I am always happy for people to come move here. I would be happy to offer you genuine Omaha steaks, they're delicious, really. And you could meet my friends. We could show you choke holds and extra beefy burgers from Omaha Steaks. They're perfect together! Come practice Brazilian Ju Jitsu with us, you'll LOVE IT!

              I would just mention to my leftist friends that Insurance is much cheaper than it used to be! If you buy Progressive insurance, and you are injured by an Asshole, we will pay to beat him down in public and on twitter and get him on his knees to apologize publicly! Free of charge! Wait, what Paula? We turned that one down? That was an Obama ad? Oh, sorry. Stephen, how about this - we have some great face cream for your mom, really! Whadya think?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:43am

                Re: Re:

                You are a sick fuck. Just like all the other Trumpsuckers out there. And really not responding to any further.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:49am

              Re:

              The instant Spamiltard leaves forever, Techdirt becomes 50% less of a cesspool.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Bloof (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ah, gimmick posting LARPer trolls, a delightful throwback to the days before people who posted such nonsense actually meant it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yeah, you sound educated. Are you talking about species of trolls? Did you go to Harvard to learn that, or Yale?

              Let me tell you what really matters - Beer Soap. Have you ever seen this stuff? Ever seen a BIG head of beer and then Buried your Face in it and Screamed and Laughed and had a really good time? Probably not, you stiff leftie queer eyed pussy. But for those of us who HAVE, WOW, is Beer Soap good. It's like when you took those two sisters together to the cabin and played Strip Poker and drank 'til you puked! You remember, right? Every day when I rub those suds all over my studly body I remember my youth, wow, it was great. I mean, Paula means the world to me, but she loves Beer Soap too! We rub it all over each other! IT's ... oops. Paula, sorry, you already warned me about that.

              Anyway, tune in tomorrow, more Beer Soap on my show, no kidding! Maybe Paula will grace us with an appearance. Suds only. Just Kidding, she won't do that. Well, you never know, we love and each and everything is OK, she just usually doesn't like people to watch. Many people, I mean, a few are OK, someone has to do the lights and the camera and the audio, after all. But beyond that, we're ALONE when we rub those soap suds all over each other.

              https://dukecannon.com/products/the-victory-box

              Beer Soap. What could be better? I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Adding to the problem is that even if someone good decides to make a go at it they're going to be at a significant disadvantage against those around them who don't mind bending/ignoring the rules to get what they want.

          From significantly less money to get elected and therefore a much harder time of it, then struggling to get anything done without having to cave on increasingly more and larger issues in exchange for support from people who rather like the system as it currently is...

          'Jump into that cesspool for the greater good' is already a hard sell for most people, tacking on '... and by the way it's filled with hungry sharks' trims down the number of willing candidates quite a bit more, unfortunately resulting in a whole slew of candidates who absolutely should not have that power getting it anyway by default.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 11 Jun 2020 @ 1:34am

        Re: Re:

        "People can only elect those who stand for an elected position, and given the rottenness of the system, who of integrity and compassion would want to stand."

        Those too smart to engage in politics are condemned to be governed by those who are dumber."

        • Plato

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jilocasin (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 7:42am

    Truer words are no more applicable than today....

    “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
    ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2020 @ 8:51am

    One of the US's most prolific violent domestic terrorist organizations using facial recognition - what could go wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 12:06pm

    Umm,

    Did I move?
    Is this China? Russia in the 70's? Is this the middle east??
    OMG..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 10 Jun 2020 @ 5:12pm

    An interesting silver lining

    I would like to think that the reason they had to voluntold a number of people is that those asked took one look at what they were being 'asked' to do and decided that 'conducting surveillance on legal protests' wasn't in the job description, but whatever the reason if they had to be told to do so hopefully that'll mean they'll do a lousy job.

    If someone's going to be doing something they really shouldn't be the best you can hope for is they half-ass it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    cattress (profile), 11 Jun 2020 @ 12:31am

    Sarcastic takes

    So I have a few thoughts about this whole reluctantly violating rights thing:
    For the DEA, this is like having to hold all the bags while your friends get to ride the rollercoaster. Give them half a chance, they'll show them city boys how to use a flash bang grenade.
    Or..
    Everyone knows drug money goes directly to terrorists, and since antifa has been declared a terrorist organization, the DEA is defacto necessary
    Or...
    Hippies and black people, of course the DEA wants some of that action. It's what they were born for.
    Or the DEA saw police stations and cars getting destroyed and knew the cops where going to have a shortage of drugs to plant on the thugs pretending to protest peacefully. They didn't realize that the cops no longer cared about a veneer of lawfulness when brutally beating and arresting the peaceful folk they kettled during a pandemic.
    I suspect a mix of those things...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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