The NSA is Snitching On You to the Cops

From the Huffington Post comes a note on who else is using NSA data in some fashion:

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.

A day after a New York Times story broke on the intense jockeying for NSA intelligence from various agencies within the federal government, Reuters has published an explosive report on the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and its collaboration with the NSA and other agencies providing intelligence. That the surveillance agency has linked up with drug enforcement, as well as the extent to which the drug enforcement agency has isolated itself from the legal process by simply removing any evidence that points to it’s involvement are grave causes for concern.

In a story that received scant attention, the San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend that the NSA has been distributing information to the Justice Department on matters unrelated to terrorism. The new Reuters report can be seen as an extension of that story. The story is fairly straightforward. A unit of the DEA known as the Special Operations Division has been receiving and distributing vast levels of intelligence from agencies such as the NSA, CIA, and Department of Homeland Security. Upon receiving information about a particular transaction or meeting place, DEA agents go make arrests, using traffic stops as pretext.