By now most of us know the government is snooping on our telephone and Internet traffic. Reports detailing how the National Security Agency sucks up vast amounts of data generated by routine activities of hapless citizens not suspected of any crime long predate smoking-gun documents leaked this summer by a former NSA worker.
In the wake of the recent undeniable revelations, federal officials assured the public they aren’t spying on us. The collection of metadata on telephone calls and Internet traffic is only reviewed in the context of particular oversees anti-terrorist investigations, officials said. That’s apparently not the end of it.
The DEA has another massive database of Internet and telephone records obtained through arrests, subpoenas and search warrants. That data also includes communication intercepted by the NSA. We now know a secret national police wing of the Drug Enforcement Agency has been mining that data to generate tips for local law enforcement agencies.
What’s worse, the DEA told local cops to cover up the source of their investigation. They rely on a process they call “parallel construction” in which they create defensible investigative records then pretend their investigation didn’t start with a tip from NSA data via the DEA.
The erosion of checks and balances did not start recently and it is not limited to federal narcotics cops secretly phoning in tips to local police. Officials argued the “parallel construction” practice is a routine “bedrock” approach to law enforcement, with DEA officials indicating their agency has done it “near-daily” since the 1990s.
Shortly after news spread around the world that that the DEA is leaking NSA data to local police for domestic law enforcement purposes, Reuters broke another story. The secret police covertly share investigative information with the IRS and other federal agencies. In an archived IRS manual from 2006, Reuters found instructions on how to cover up the true source of investigations triggered by the DEA’s once secret Special Operations Division.
The fact that the federal agencies are mining data outside the authority that allowed them to gather the data in the first place is troubling enough. The systematic spying might or might not be legal, though it certainly goes well beyond the boundaries many of us believe essential to protecting the public against government abuse. The deeper problem is that the DEA is urging police agencies to mislead the courts about how the government initiates investigations into the activities of U.S. citizens.
Constitutional Protection Against Unreasonable Searches
A basic guarantee of our Bill of Rights is that, when accused of crimes, defendants have a right to confront their accusers in court. During nearly two and a half centuries of U.S. jurisprudence, courts have established discovery rules to assure defendants full access to any information that might tend to show them not guilty. Under Brady v. Maryland, prosecutors are obligated to hand over exculpatory evidence.
That’s where this secret national police program fails to pass constitutional muster. If a defendant’s attorneys do not know how the government began an investigation, defense attorneys have no way of knowing if there was additional evidence that might favor the defense. Defendant’s who do not know who is responsible for investigating the charges against them are unable to interview those witnesses.
Just as important are Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. In every drug case Wirth Law Office defends, we investigate to see if a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. If police illegally obtained evidence without a warrant, we ask the court to suppress that evidence. If defendants, attorneys and judges do not know how police got the evidence, we have no way to investigate whether it was legally obtained.
For someone who has been arrested for simple possession of marijuana, chances are slim a defense attorney will persuade a court to toss out charges based on claims the cop who smelled a pungent aroma was first alerted by a discrete call from the secret federal police. It could happen, but chances are very slim. If on the other hand you have been accused of a major drug crime, chances are getting stronger that part of your defense may be that the government is cheating in court. Cheating means refusing to comply with rules of discovery that allow you and your attorneys to review evidence used to make the prosecution’s case.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
If you have been investigated, charged or arrested for a drug crime in Oklahoma, you could be facing a long time in prison, along with fines and loss of civil rights such as the right to vote, hold office or own firearms. If you hope to preserve your freedom, it is urgent that you contact a drug crimes defense attorney who will examine your case in light of new evidence that the government has been systematically gaming the courts.
For a free consultation with a Tulsa drug crimes defense attorney, call the Wirth Law Office as soon as possible. Your freedom is on the line. Contact the Tulsa controlled substances defense lawyers at (918) 879-1681 or toll free at (888) Wirth-Law. If you prefer written correspondence, you may submit a question through the form at the top right of this page.
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