News Release

DEA Using NSA Intercepts to Launch Criminal Investigations, Then Hiding It


Reuters reveals today: “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.

“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.

“Monday’s Reuters report cited internal government documents that show that law enforcement agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin — to ‘recreate’ the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information.”

BRUCE DIXON, bruce.dixon at
Dixon is managing editor of Black Agenda Report, and just wrote the piece “NSA, DEA and Local Cops Share Information Concealed From Judges & Defendants, But No Liberal Outrage.”

MATTHEW FEENEY, mfeeney at
Feeney is assistant editor of Reason 24/7. He appeared on RT on Monday to discuss the revelations surrounding the NSA and DEA.

Staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fakhoury just wrote “DEA and NSA Team Up to Share Intelligence, Leading to Secret Use of Surveillance in Ordinary Investigations,” which states: “Even beyond the larger systemic problem of insulating NSA surveillance from judicial review, criminal defendants whose arrest or case is built upon FISA evidence are now deprived of their right to examine and challenge the evidence used against them.

“Taken together, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments guarantee a criminal defendant a meaningful opportunity to present a defense and challenge the government’s case. But this intelligence laundering deprives defendants of these important constitutional protections. It makes it harder for prosecutors to comply with their ethical obligation under Brady v. Maryland to disclose any exculpatory or favorable evidence to the defense — an obligation that extends to disclosing evidence bearing on the reliability of a government witness. Hiding the source of information used by the government to initiate an investigation or make an arrest means defendants are deprived of the opportunity to challenge the accuracy or veracity of the government’s investigation, let alone seek out favorable evidence in the government’s possession.”