Free Markets, Free People

Government abuse: not surprising, not unexpected, but certainly something that needs to be stopped – now!

This has been in the news recently and now it is getting some Congressional attention.  It has to do with possible illegal activities involving the NSA and DEA.  As you know, the NSA’s job is to focus outside the US, not inside, and primarily on enemies of the United States, not it’s citizens:

Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.

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.

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.

Why, other than the fact that the NSA has no charter or permission to pass its information about American citizens on to other agencies, is this important?

The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA’s Special Operations Division 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 documents show that 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, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.

The internal documents describe the process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as “parallel construction.” For example, agents said in interviews, they act as if a drug investigation began with a traffic stop for speeding or a broken taillight, instead of a tip passed from the NSA. An IRS document describes a similar process for tax agency investigators.

Emphasis mine. So not only is passing such information to these agencies unauthorized, the government then instructs its agents on how to lie about the source of their information (a lie of omission). And, of course, it is also legitimate to ask whether or not exculpatory evidence could also have been available but not passed to these agencies.

Is this really the type government we want?  One that spies on us, intercepts our electronic messages and phone calls and uses them secretly by passing what should be private to various other government agencies and then lies about it?  Peggy Noonan addresses those questions quite directly today:

If the citizens of the United States don’t put up a halting hand, the government can’t be expected to. It is in the nature of security professionals to always want more, and since their mission is worthy they’re less likely to have constitutional qualms, to dwell on such abstractions as abuse of the Fourth Amendment and the impact of that abuse on the First.

If you assume all the information that can and will be gleaned will be confined to NSA and national security purposes, you are not sufficiently imaginative or informed. If you believe the information will never be used wrongly or recklessly, you are touchingly innocent.

If you assume you can trust the administration on this issue you are not following the bouncing ball, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told Congress under oath the NSA didn’t gather “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” (he later had to apologize) to President Obama, who told Jay Leno: “We don’t have a domestic program.” What we do have, the president said, is “some mechanism that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack.”

Oh, we have more than that.

Almost every politician in America lives in fear of one big thing: a terrorist attack they can later be accused of not having done everything to stop. And so they’ll do anything. They are looking to preserve their political viability and historical standing. We, as citizens, must keep other things in mind, such as the rights we are born with as Americans, one of which is privacy.

Lord Acton nailed it when he said “Power corrupts …”.  We’re currently in the midst of watching exactly that happen to an even greater degree than in the past. If you give government power, it will do everything it can to expand that power – whether legitimately or illegitimately.  It is the nature of the beast.  And we have to put up a hand to stop it.

If you’re wondering why the Tea Party is characterized in such nasty ways by the establishment of both parties, it is because it does indeed attempt to put up a hand to stop these sorts of abuses and remove power from the abusers.  They threaten the very base of power the political establishment has worked so hard to build over the years.


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22 Responses to Government abuse: not surprising, not unexpected, but certainly something that needs to be stopped – now!

  • 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.
    … It will be interesting to see how this practice that obviously goes back to the last administration is handled by Eric Holder and the DOJ.

    • Expansion of state power is always good.
      And to be honest, some of these guys think they really are doing good.
      I mean, if you can see the dude is a drug lord, its not crazy to think a tax investigation would be a good idea (from a strict effectiveness sense.)
      I’m also recalling back in my youth in an Asian country where the tax authorities were more than happy for people working illegally as English teachers to pay their taxes, and the tax agency would never talk to the immigration people. I always wondered when they would start networking…and now they have.
      Bureaucratic incompetence: it cuts both way, as it provided some shielding from such antics.

  • OT: I would love to have a reporter ask Sec. Kerry if he still believes a “Global Test” is needed before America can intervene in foreign countries militarily.

    • As I posted in a comment over at Cold Fury today:

      Let’s see if I’ve got this straight, just to make sure.
      These people in Syria were killed by chemical WMDs that Saddam definitely didn’t have and which were absolutely never transported on those trucks that streamed into Syria from Iraq.
      And it’s some kind of war crime to go after Saddam after getting both UN authorization and Congressional authorization, but Obama and Kerry can go after Assad with no authorization from anybody and it’s just peachy. Laudatory, even.
      You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think the left had vast supplies of some kind of memory erasing drug that they use regularly so they don’t have to face the contradictions of their own political positions and philosophy.

      • Insty had the best line today:


        NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: Obama Seeks a ‘Coalition of the Willing’ on Syria. Hmm. Seeking a coalition of the willing to take down an Arab Ba’athist dictator over WMDs. Where have I heard this before?

      • If you go back and read a timelines of weapons inspections in Iraq, its actually very frightening. Iraq was supposed to give “Full & Final Complete Declarations” of all of their programs. They did not do so, which is why you have 5th and 6th FFCDs for biological programs, etc. We only found out about their biological program at all after Saddam’s son-in-law defected in ’95. The idea that Saddam could have hidden entire programs was shown to be possible from that.   However, did he actually have any in 2003? I don’t know. But he sure had enough time to move them, if he did.
        Syria has always had its own chemical weapon program though. They never signed the international agreements for chemical weapons and are not bound by it. Which is why no one bothers them with sanctions based on their WMDs like they do Iran.

      • Nobody seriously thinks Assad got his chemical weapons from Iraq.  Remember, Syria was anti-Saddam, even joining the coalition against him in 1991.  Assad and his father have had their own chemical weapons capacity for quite some time.  Bizarre to think he got them from Iraq!  *eyes rolling*
        The left opposes war with Syria.  Obama is a centrist establishment Democrat.  Establishment Democrats often supported Bush and Clinton (another establishment Democrat whose Kosovo war was legally dubious).  But the true left, they are angry at Obama for “selling out” and they oppose war with Syria.   Obama is to the left what Boehner and Graham are to the tea party.

        • Meanwhile NYT goes full bore hypocrite –
          Other headline greats:
          Bomb Cambodia, even if it is illegal!
          Bush didn’t need WMD proof to attack Iraq!
          Constitution?  We don’t need no stinking Constitution!

        • You damn fool, you don’t know where those chemical weapons came from any more than I do. They might have come over on those trucks, or Assad may have cooked them up himself, or a combination. It doesn’t even matter that much where they came from.

        • But getting off on that allowed you to completely duck the part about Obama doing something that you and everyone to the left of Susan Collins would have howled about if Bush had done it and called an impeachable offense: unilaterally deciding to use military force, with no imminent threat to the US, with no clear goal, and without asking for permission from Congress.

        • Because, you hypocritical, very stupid person, you can’t bear to face the fact of your own infatuation with Obama and your willingness to rationalize everything he does. You are a well indoctrinated tool, bending reality in your own mind so you don’t have to face your mistakes and misjudgments. A pathetic, weak-minded person content to exist off the teat of the collectivist state, parrot its desires, and indoctrinate them into your students.

        • Thank goodness you suck so badly even at that pathetic goal that you are stuck at a third rate school in the middle of nowhere, so the damage you can do is limited. And thank goodness you come here regularly and expose your foolishness and partisanship so that our moderate readers get a great look at how pathetic the tools of the left really are. One post from you is worth a dozen by our regulars, because anyone with a lick of sense hears your collectivist “markets don’t adjust themselves’ and your idiotic quantum nonsense, and realizes that the last thing they want is to identify with the likes of you.

  • Have some sympathy for poor old Pomo Scott. If he backs Obama and an attack on Syria, he is endorsing precisely the actions that Obama was supposed to stand against. Not only that, he is donning the mantle of his own Afghan history in which 9/11 is due to the USA supporting mad Islamists in Afghanistan against the Soviets. If he denounces an attack then he is fighting against his own “think of the children” schtick and comes off as an idealist and not very pragmatic. Think how hard this must be for a Weathervane Scotty! He has not yet received the wisdom on whether he should be for a war before he is against it, or against it before he was for it. Still, his classes must be quite entertaining at the moment as his students watch him spin to dizzying heights of obfuscation.

  • Oh, Scott Erb posted.   The guy who thinks a Republic is the same as a Democracy.   The guy who tells his students they’re the same.  (Eyes rolling, flecks of foam at corners of mouth, erratic hand waving, appearance of epileptic shock).
    Pretty much EVERYONE opposes ‘war’ with Syria.   No plan, no end game plan.   Libya revisited.  The bombing will start “not intended to replace the regime, only temporary” and then continue past both those points.   What’s the objective here?   To blow up enough of Syria’s war capacity to give the rebels the edge they need?   To ‘Punish’ Assad?   How will we know when the punishment is enough?   Are we going to bomb him till he goes and stands in the corner?
    “punishing” Syria isn’t a viable military objective, it’s like ‘war’ on terror.   The pragmatic moderate little bully is about to have his ass handed to him, again, in Foreign Relations.  Syria isn’t Libya (although it has three of the same letters, I’m sure the Obama team thinks that makes them practically identical), and Russia and China and Iran aren’t much afraid of Dear Golfer.

    • And Scottie’s opinion on NSA, DEA etc and other big government abuses? No comment… as usual.

      • Let me hear a “good and necessary” brothers and sisters!

      • Phoney scandal…good and necessary…watch and learn…pragmatic centrist…bwack…!!!
        Seems like I heard some total lying tool for the Collective deploring “bumper-sticker” thinking…

    • Hell, even Sen. Obama opposes Pres. Obama.
      Erp is just a lying Collectivist tool.
      It was ever thus.

  • You know, I’m starting to think that the left was merely posturing for political gain about how bad war was during Iraq….

  • We must assume that John Kerry has been busy having  the intelligence and facts fixed around the policy.

  • Personally, I believe NSA provided the FBI with the information that revealed General Petraeus’ affair just enough in advance of his testimony about Benghazi that he was forced to resign before the testimony.  I also think the NSA may have gotten something on Justice Roberts prior to his deciding that the mandate allowable as a tax but not under the Commerce clause.  At the time of these events, I suspected blackmail by the Administration…now, that we know the NSA was collection metadata on all Americans….

  • Surely, nobody can possibly believe that Obama and Kerry have been transformed into one of those “EVIL” Neo-conservatives, so this must be the rise of Neo-Progressives.

  • Surely, nobody can possibly believe that Obama and Kerry have been transformed into one of those “EVIL” Neo-conservatives, so this must be the rise of Neo-Progressives.
    It won’t take long now to fully rehabilitate George W Bush

    • It’s a plan to reduce the deficit.  We’re going to rent the Air Force to Al-Queda for the weekend.   To show we’re not playing favorites, we aren’t going to bill the Syrian government for the ordnance the planes will deliver.