Free Markets, Free People

Give it power and government will abuse it

Seems odd, to me, that we have to point this out every now and then.  The naive trust some people have in government always perplexes me.  It speaks to an ignorance of both human nature and history that is simply profound.

Our latest example? Well, right here from the good old US of A, land of the free, home of the brave … and the DEA:

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.

“Some experts say?”  Really?  Frankly, if all of them aren’t saying it, they’re wrong.  Again, we have laws … you know, rules? … that require federal law enforcement to go through a process to obtain warrants in order to get this sort of information.  And if they don’t, if they get it without a warrant and through other means, it is considered to be unusable in a trial.

So to avoid that, they “recreate”.  In other words, federal agents, at least those in the DEA, are trained to do what?


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.”

Ya think?!  Of course they’re phonying up investigations if they’re obtaining “evidence” via illegal means and the “recreating” the investigative trail to “cover up” where the info originally came from.

Question: how many people have ended up in jail due to the lies of DEA agents?

My guess is hundreds if not thousands.

Of course, any abuse has defenders:

But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.

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.

Can’t imagine why “two senior DEA officials” would defend it, can you?  Oh, yeah, their rear-ends are on the line – so move along citizen, don’t peek behind the curtain, nothing to see here.

You see, there’s a difference between acting on a tip and using information that was illegally obtained.

But apparently that nuance is beyond our two senior DEA officials.


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

15 Responses to Give it power and government will abuse it

  • “But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.”
    Great, another way of saying “we lie almost daily”.
    The number of people who are okay with this because, you know, “it’s only used on criminals” astounds me.
    I am sick to death of a society that can’t grasp the horror that lurks behind the words “if you’re not doing anything illegal, you have nothing to fear”.

  • See, the so far evident inability of the political process to deal with this  is why I keep on bringing up  Sure a lot of them there are from three letter agencies.
    So what?
    Many aren’t.  Keep your activities legal and above board, and find the pearls in the slop.

  • Libertarians have been warning about the collateral damage from the drug war for decades. It’s too bad it has to get this far before drug war conservatives might rethink their “drugs are evil and government must control them” position.

    Though I don’t know how much impact it will make. I thought court cases like “County of Backwoods vs. $372,420” would have more impact than they did. Asset forfeiture is so contrary to the principles of a free society that I can’t imagine why anyone would not get outraged by it. But conservatives, for the most part, just shrugged and went along with it “for the greater good”.

    • And remember that the original “Nanny” state began with what we now refer to as “Social Conservatives” (via the WCTU).
      And, too, the Dem’s were against all the victim-less crimes until they became the “Establishment”, they they were in favor of all of it.
      Nothing pushes policy like power-lust!!

      • The Left gave us prohibition.  A much overlooked aspect from that era.  It was done to end alcohol tax and force income tax to happen.  Income tax could be used for wealth redistribution which they knew back then.  The Left is all about anything that helps bring about the Utopia.  Don’t for a second think that they ever gave a flying fuck about drug legalization unless they thought it gave them some indirect benefit for their end goals.
        And in the end, if makes their Utopia come true, we’ll all be mandated to be medicated .

      • “they they” Maybe you should try again!

  • “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.”
    Sir, I stopped you because you have a broken taillight.
    Hmm, wasn’t broken 5 minutes ago..

  • But isn’t this just systematization of what was already going on?

    • Well in theory, much of what happening is allowable because its suppose to be purely interdiction.  The argument is that 4th amendment refers to only to actions that lead to court prosecution.  For example, you can warrantlessly wiretap someone and find out if they’re going to blow up a plane and act to stop the attack, but you can’t use those wiretaps to get a conviction.
      This is basically end running that distinction by reconstructing a false discovery that is legally allowed to lead to prosecution.  The problem is that would often be considered ‘fruit of the poisoned tree’ since its is likely explicitly the product of the original unusable discovery.   The prosecution would have to demonstrate this alternate discovery was likely without the original unusable discovery. but only if its challenged.  They are preventing it from being challenged by hiding it from the judge and defense.

  • Unbelieveable. Well, sadly, not really, not anymore. And where does the ACLU stand on this? SMH.

    • I am sure the ACLU will get this straightened out! It’s what they do!

      • Since it doesn’t involve the right to bear arms, the freedom of people to express their religious ideas, or any situation in which Democrats are abusing the rights of (non-socialist) political enemies, the ACLU probably will object to this, if they haven’t already.
        They are generally very good, except for their political blind spots.  Even then, they sometimes do the right thing.