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.
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 Watchdog.org and can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87