The Drug Enforcement Administration has been the recipient of multiple tips from the NSA. DEA officials in a highly secret office called the Special Operations Division are assigned to handle these incoming tips, according to Reuters. Tips from the NSA are added to a DEA database that includes “intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records.” This is problematic because it appears to break down the barrier between foreign counterterrorism investigations and ordinary domestic criminal investigations.Who could've ever guessed information from the NSA would eventually find it's way to other agencies? Now a group of eight Democratic senators and congressmen want answers from Attorney General Holder:
Because the SOD’s work is classified, DEA cases that began as NSA leads can’t be seen to have originated from a NSA source.
So what does the DEA do? It makes up the story of how the agency really came to the case in a process known as “parallel construction.” Reuters explains:Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.
The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism.More on the "parallel construction" here.
Five Democrats in the Senate and three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee submitted questions to Holder about the NSA-DEA relationship, joining two prominent Republicans who have expressed concerns. The matter will be discussed during classified briefings scheduled for September, Republican and Democratic aides said.
"These allegations raise serious concerns that gaps in the policy and law are allowing overreach by the federal government's intelligence gathering apparatus," wrote the senators - Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.