DEA covering up NSA as source of evidence

I know I sound like a broken record, but this shit is just plain unAmerican:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

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.”

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

H/T to Price Benowitz LLP, Injury Lawyers.

4 thoughts on “DEA covering up NSA as source of evidence

  1. We are so far beyond rewriting the Constitution that it now appears we will reverse the reforms of the Magna Carta in the process.

  2. For anyone worried that the IRS has been left out of the NSA’s info giveaway, worry no longer. They’re part of the scheme, right down to getting the training for how to do the “reconstructive investigation” trick for lying to the courts.

    I figure any department needing info is getting it this way and lying to the courts about it.

    Rule of Law, babeeeee!!!

    Raw Story also has this about defense lawyers planning legal action to get access to any info handed out for prosecutions. Heh…gonna be a fun time in the FISA court and others for awhile. I’m pretty sure the suit will be shut down for security reasons, methods, etc. State Secrets are of course necessary for the Surveillance State.

    I wish these attys good luck.

    Constitutional issues? As of the rise and solidification of the Corporatist state, the Constitution does not apply to the lower economic quintiles. The Constitution is only for the rich and powerful, with paid up credits (donations to pols) giving them get out of prosecutions cards/stay out of jail cards. Or, of course, being rich and big enough to tell the government what is going to be done is the real power. Power calls the shots, not silly things like laws and constitutions. So, the Powerful invoke the Constitution when it meets their needs; otherwise, they ignore it.

    Ben Franklin must be astonished, should there be an afterlife providing any access to what’s happening in the here and now.

  3. Article on how we’re already living in a post-Constitution state here in the USA. Appeared in Tom Dispatch. By Peter Va Buren.

    This is really interesting:

    When the US wanted something in Iraq or Afghanistan, they sent guys to kick down doors and take it. This, too, may be beginning to happen here at home. Recently, despite other valuable and easily portable objects lying nearby, computers, and only computers, were stolen from the law offices representing State Department whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn. Similarly, a Washington law firm representing NSA whistleblower Tom Drake had computers, and only computers, stolen from its office.

    In these years, the FBI has brought two other NSA wartime tools home. The bureau now uses a device called Stingray to recreate those battlefield fake cell phone towers and track people in the US without their knowledge. Stingray offers some unique advantages: it bypasses the phone company entirely, which is, of course, handy in a war zone in which a phone company may be controlled by less-than-cooperative types, or if phone companies no longer cooperate with the government, or simply if you don’t want the phone company or anyone else to know you’re snooping. American phone companies seem to have been quite cooperative. Verizon, for instance, admits hacking its own cellular modems (“air cards”) to facilitate FBI intrusion.

    And there’s more technology used in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones coming home for domestic surveillance:

    Using fake cell phone towers that actually intercept phone signals en route to real towers, the US could harvest hardware information in Iraq and Afghanistan that would forever label a phone and allow the NSA to always uniquely identify it, even if the SIM card was changed. The fake cell towers also allowed the NSA to gather precise location data for the phone, vacuum up metadata, and monitor what was being said.

    Coming to DC in 2012 is the Aerostat, a kind Panopticon in a blimp. Fun times coming to a city near you, too, probably.

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