The real problem with the NSA spying program is not that objectionable when used to catch "real" terrorism suspects or prevent actual attacks, a knack these programs have not yet accomplished that warrant the spending and effort put forth so far. Now the real problem is the slippery slope the NSA program provides. And it is slippery as other agencies are following NSA's lead and their own agendas.
A Domestic Surveillance Scandal at the DEA? Agents Urged to Cover Up Use of NSA Intel in Drug Probes
DEMOCRACY NOW - The U.S. Department of Justice has begun reviewing a controversial unit inside the Drug Enforcement Administration that uses secret domestic surveillance tactics — including intelligence gathered by the National Security Agency — to target Americans for drug offenses.
According to a series of articles published by Reuters, agents are instructed to recreate the investigative trail in order to conceal the origins of the evidence, not only from defense lawyers, but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges. "We are talking about ordinary crime: drug dealing, organized crime, money laundering. We are not talking about national security crimes," says Reuters reporter John Shiffman.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says this is just the latest scandal at the DEA. "I hope it is a sort of wake-up call for people in Congress to say now is the time, finally, after 40 years, to say this agency really needs a close examination."
Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles
New York Times — The National Security Agency’s dominant role as the nation’s spy warehouse has spurred frequent tensions and turf fights with other federal intelligence agencies that want to use its surveillance tools for their own investigations, officials say.
Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.
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Intelligence officials say they have been careful to limit the use of the security agency’s troves of data and eavesdropping spyware for fear they could be misused in ways that violate Americans’ privacy rights.
U.S. Directs Agents To Cover Up Program Used To Investigate Americans
(Reuters) - A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration s Special Operations Division (SOD) advises law-enforcement officials to disguise how they have gathered information for criminal cases by recreating the investigative trail through use of a practice called parallel construction. Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors say the practice could violate a defendant s constitutional right to a fair trial by burying evidence that could prove exculpatory.
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."
IRS Manual Detailed DEA's Use Of Hidden Intel Evidence
Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years.
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
An IRS spokesman had no comment on the entry or on why it was removed from the manual. Reuters recovered the previous editions from the archives of the Westlaw legal database, which is owned by Thomson Reuters Corp, the parent of this news agency.
As Reuters reported Monday, the Special Operations Division of the DEA funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. The DEA phone database is distinct from a NSA database disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
How DEA Program Differs From Recent NSA Revelations
(Reuters) - Former spy-agency contractor Edward Snowden has caused a fierce debate over civil liberties and national-security needs by disclosing details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs.
Reuters has uncovered previously unreported details about a separate program, run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, that extends well beyond intelligence gathering. Its use, legal experts say, raises fundamental questions about whether the government is concealing information used to investigate and help build criminal cases against American citizens.
The DEA program is run by a secretive unit called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Here is how NSA efforts exposed by Snowden differ from the activities of the SOD:
Purpose Of The Programs
NSA: To use electronic surveillance to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation catch terrorists, the U.S. military fight wars, and the Central Intelligence Agency collect intelligence about foreign governments.
SOD: To help the DEA and other law enforcement agents launch criminal investigations of drug dealers, money launderers and other common criminals, including Americans. The unit also handles global narco-terrorism cases.
Feds Are Suspects in New Malware That Attacks Tor Anonymity
WIRED - Security researchers tonight are poring over a piece of malicious software that takes advantage of a Firefox security vulnerability to identify some users of the privacy-protecting Tor anonymity network.
The malware showed up Sunday morning on multiple websites hosted by the anonymous hosting company Freedom Hosting. That would normally be considered a blatantly criminal “drive-by” hack attack, but nobody’s calling in the FBI this time. The FBI is the prime suspect.
“It just sends identifying information to some IP in Reston, Virginia,” says reverse-engineer Vlad Tsyrklevich. “It’s pretty clear that it’s FBI or it’s some other law enforcement agency that’s U.S.-based.”
If Tsrklevich and other researchers are right, the code is likely the first sample captured in the wild of the FBI’s “computer and internet protocol address verifier,” or CIPAV, the law enforcement spyware first reported by WIRED in 2007.
Court documents and FBI files released under the FOIA have described the CIPAV as software the FBI can deliver through a browser exploit to gather information from the target’s machine and send it to an FBI server in Virginia. The FBI has been using the CIPAV since 2002 against hackers, online sexual predators, extortionists, and others, primarily to identify suspects who are disguising their location using proxy servers or anonymity services, like Tor.
The code has been used sparingly in the past, which kept it from leaking out and being analyzed or added to anti-virus databases.