Reuters: Law enforcement use info from NSA phone database to go after common criminals

By   /   August 5, 2013  /   2 Comments

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent

ST. PAUL, MN – It seems the information being collected by the NSA and other branches of America’s security infrastructure is being used to do more than fight the War on Terror.

NSA photo

ALL YOUR PHONE CALLS ARE BELONG TO US: The NSA collects “meta-data” including call duration and location, for all Americans at all times. And now we know that information is being used for more than national security – it’s being used to fight the Drug War too.

It’s being used to fight the War on Drugs too.

Law enforcement agents have used information collected by America’s massive electronic surveillance infrastructure to launch criminal investigations against Americans, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has used information collected by America’s massive electronic surveillance infrastructure to launch criminal investigations against Americans.  The DEA takes information collected by the FBI, CIA and NSA and uses it to launch its own operations that “rarely involve national security issues,” according to the news service.

And then to top it all off, federal agents have been trained to lie about how they obtained the information and to “recreate the investigative trail” to hide how the information was originally obtained.

“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.”

Reuters says the DEA runs a “special operations unit” – which has been around since 1994, by the way – to collect and sort through information from the surveillance databases.  Tips are passed along to drug enforcement officials, who admit the accuracy of such information is only about 60 percent.

Retired officials told Reuters the process of recreating an investigation is legal and somewhat common.  The U.S. Department of Justice did not comment for the article.

The heads of America’s national security agencies continue to argue that such phone data is critical to stopping terror plots, despite the fact that some prominent U.S. senators say they have seen no evidence to support that claim.

Boehm is a reporter for and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87


  • Always On Watch

    Orwell’s 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 have arrived. We are living in a dystopia!

  • Paul Mulwitz

    Let me make a few comments on this fiasco.

    First, the NSA intelligence data should not be made available to any law enforcement agencies. This compromises the national interest in protecting NSA sources and seems to violate the 4th amendment.

    Second, the “War on Drugs” is a complete failure. It should be terminated. It is time for the bullies in the federal government to just admit defeat and stop this undeclared war against American Citizens. This will never work any better than Prohibition did.

    Lastly, I would like to see serious investigations on this illegal release of intelligence information to law enforcement departments in the federal government. Somebody should go to jail for this illegal action. It should get the same sort of attention from congress and the media as the Snowden releases which amounted to the same crime.