Despite Lame Protestations to the Contrary by the Government …
But since Obama, top NSA brass, and a handful of congress members are still pretending that they don’t spy on us, let’s review the facts.
NBC News reports:
NBC News has learned that under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, the government has been collecting records on every phone call made in the U.S.
On March 2011, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee:
We put in place technological improvements relating to the capabilities of a database to pull together past emails and future ones as they come in so that it does not require an individualized search.
Remember, the FBI – unlike the CIA – deals with internal matters within the borders of the United States.
On May 1st of this year, former FBI agent Tim Clemente told CNN’s Erin Burnett that all present and past phone calls were recorded:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It’s not a voice mail. It’s just a conversation. There’s no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: “No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It’s not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
The next day, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored:
NSA whistleblowers say that this means that the NSA collects “word for word”
all of our communications.
In addition, top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the 32-year high-level NSA cryptographer and former head of the NSA’s global digital data gathering program – told us:
The DHS gave a list of words that they were looking for in text as a way to find potential bad guys. [Background.] Now, what do you think the DHS is searching? Looks like the NSA database of e-mails and file transfers of US citizens, does it not?
The government has adopted a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act which allows it to pretend that “everything” is relevant … so it spies on everyone.
Former NSA head Michael Hayden just confirmed that the government spies on our communications:
And the NSA isn’t the only agency which spies on Americans. Many other agencies – concerned only with domestic issues – spy on Americans as well.
Moreover, Reuters reports that – since the late 1990s – the NSA has been funneling its spying information to agencies throughout the country to prosecute petty crimes:
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.
[F]ederal 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.
“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”
The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”
“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.
“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”
“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.”
Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.
And see this must-watch interview with the Reuters reporter who broke the story:
It’s not just drug offenses. The IRS and many other agencies use the information to go after petty violations of law.
The Washington Post points out:
The intelligence … is actively being applied to criminal investigations against Americans….