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Forums » Politics & Society » Government & Elections » The Drug Enforcement Agency Has A Secret Surveillance Program (ALSO)
The Drug Enforcement Agency Has A Secret Surveillance Program (ALSO)
posted at August 5, 2013 3:01 PM EDT
First: October 13, 2012
Last: September 28, 2013
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Special Operations Division has been handing over secret surveillance information to law enforcement agents, and encouraging them to recreate false investigations to protect where they receive the tips, Reuters reported today.
The top-secret unit, created in 1994 to take down Latin American drug cartels, is comprised of partnerships between DEA, the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security, among others.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials receive information from SOD about coordinating international investigations, tips from overseas NSA intercepts and domestic wiretaps and potential useful details from a database called DICE.
Senior DEA officials told Reuters that the roughly 1 billion records in DICE include phone logs and Internet data obtained by the agency through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are destroyed after a year, the officials said.
Around 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents can access the database, according to the news wire.
SOD instructs local police not to mention the unit’s involvement in their investigations — even in affidavits and courtroom testimony.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” according to one document obtained by Reuters.
A federal prosecutor in Florida told the wire service that he learned about SOD after a DEA agent mislead him about who gave him a tip that prompted an investigation.
“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.”
The prosecutor said he decided not to file charges in the case following the revelation.
Two senior DEA officials, speaking on behalf of the agency, defended the secrecy, saying it was necessary to safeguard sources and investigative methods.
“Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official told Reuters. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
But the American Civil Liberties Union slammed the program as constitutional overreach.
“When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “Effectively, these intelligence programs are placed beyond the reach of the Constitution, where they develop and expand without any court ever weighing in on their lawfulness. This is inappropriate, dangerous, and contrary to the rule of law.”
A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees DEA, declined to comment. Meanwhile, a DEA spokesman told Reuters that lawmakers in Congress had previously been briefed about both DICE and the activities of SOD.
Once again, proof positive, that our government agencies do not uphold our rights,