Great news: DoJ to investigate its own agency on surveillance activities

posted at 4:01 pm on August 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Allegations arise of abuses of power and wrongdoing in a subordinate agency of a Cabinet department, which then conducts an investigation that lays the blame on a few low-level staffers and then insists that any further debate on the issue is nothing more than a “phony scandal.” The State Department did that with Benghazi, Treasury (or at least the White House’s spin on the IG report) with the IRS, and the Department of Justice with Operation Fast and Furious. The DoJ will now take a second spin on the Wheel Of Scapegoats by launching its own investigation into the DEA’s alleged widespread spying:

The US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into revelations that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses surveillance tactics – including wiretapping and massive databases of telephone records – to arrest Americans, amid growing concerns from lawyers and civil rights groups over its lack of transparency.

Reuters on Monday detailed how the Special Operative Division – a unit within the DEA comprising representatives of two dozen agencies including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security – passes tips from wiretaps, informants and a database of telephone records to field agents to investigate and arrest criminals. Reuters reports that, although such cases rarely involve national security issues, the DEA agents using the tips are trained to “recreate” the source of the criminal investigation to conceal its true origin from defence lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

The revelations, which follow the Guardian’s recent disclosures of the National Security Agency’s wholescale collection of US phone data, have raised concerns among judges, prosecutors and civil rights lawyers over a lack of transparency. Many said the SOD practice violates a defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

Reason’s Ed Krayewski sounds a skeptical note:

It looks like it’s not just the president but the Department of Justice that learns about what’s going on in the government from the news. …

And why would Eric Holder or the DOJ know about what the DEA was doing before it hit the papers?

In other words …

One essential part of the investigation will be to see who ordered the DEA to use those surveillance techniques in the first place.  If the phone data actually came from the NSA — something that hasn’t been established yet — then that means cooperation between Cabinet agencies that goes way above the DEA and NSA and into their parent departments, one of which is the DoJ.  So why are we to trust the DoJ to investigate itself yet again for allegations of misconduct and abuse of power?

Congress needs to hold this investigation itself, in public, with subpoenas all around.  Either that, or we need a special prosecutor independent of the DoJ whose mission won’t be to find the first low-level staffers that pop up onto whom blame can be shifted.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I hate this administration.

Deano1952 on August 7, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Dirtbag Holder will probably seek some way to blame Brian Terry.

viking01 on August 7, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Fox, hens and all that.

Schadenfreude on August 7, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Every Federal Government Department needs to be defunded. Stop everything and make every single agency justify their funding for anything other than contractual obligations. That or Nuke everything from orbit.

Johnnyreb on August 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Copied from the Headlines thread:

Near-future headline – Arm of Obama Clears Arm of Obama

Steve Eggleston on August 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Steve Eggleston on August 7, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Well, this will go well. Holder has such a sterling track record investigating his department and the rest of the Executive branch.

Chris of Rights on August 7, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Fox + Hen house = Chicken croquettes

portlandon on August 7, 2013 at 4:11 PM

DOJ must be getting used to investigating themselves by now. Why don’t we just skip to the end and issue the whitewash right away? Save the useless effort.

MTF on August 7, 2013 at 4:11 PM

What could go right?!

right2bright on August 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

What could go right?!

right2bright on August 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

From our standpoint, nothing. From Team SCOAMT’s standpoint, since they still have their presstitute organs spewing for them, everything.

Steve Eggleston on August 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Agree special prosecutor on DOJ itself

cmsinaz on August 7, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Alright, How did you guys get this unconstitutionally allowed information?
Can you show us in detail?
Which conservatives in this place can we blame?
OK, fire them and keep your mouths shut better. We have to be able to put every American behind bars, or we will not have enough power over them to do what we want.

astonerii on August 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

What could go right?!

right2bright on August 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

From our standpoint, nothing. From Team SCOAMT’s standpoint, since they still have their presstitute organs spewing for them, everything.

Steve Eggleston on August 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Yes, the Low Info Bunch will just here that someone has cleared themselves of wrongdoing – as they’ve done before – and they will internalize that ‘information’ without thinking about and go back to watching honey bo – bo or some other such nonsense.

Who said it that this country can survive Obama the Dear Liar but can’t survive those who would put on the throne?

Galt2009 on August 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM

The gung-ho militant door busters at the DEA are, on top of the spying, taking pictures en masse of license plates on our highways: http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty-criminal-law-reform/dea-recording-americans-movements-highways-creating
Come on, is the drug war so important that we will compromise all our freedoms and privacy in an authoritarian Orwellian state? The DEA does all this and the upshot is that in a supposedly free country we’ve put millions of our citizens in prison for victimless “crimes.”

anotherJoe on August 7, 2013 at 4:29 PM

SOD doesn’t get its phone numbers from NSA. In fact, last I checked, SOD didn’t actually collect information at all. It’s an aggregator/collator, a place where dots go to be connected. I’m having a hard time understanding the panicked outrage here. I’ve used SOD in cases. I come across a number, send it to SOD. They tell me the same number came up in an investigation in Florida and another one in California. Following it a couple of steps further, they say the numbers are all linked to a cartel operation in Juarez. What is the big effin deal here? Isn’t this the sort of thing we expect law enforcement to be doing? Don’t we want them to connect the dots efficiently and effectively?
SOD’s a restricted source – all intelligence sources like CIA/NSA etc. are restricted, meaning that law enforcement is not allowed to use that source in a criminal case. If you can make the case using information that comes solely from non-restricted sources, fine. If not, you’re done – no case. This isn’t rocket science.

mongoose on August 7, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Holder will sniff his own butt and report back it smells just fine.

Look folks, if these allegations are true it is a massive conspiracy to obstruct justice. They are alleging the fabrications of “parallel construction” falsehoods to submit to courts, under oath, as justification for warrants and charges, concealing the actual basis of the investigations, which are the NSA databases. It requires later perjuries throughout the proceedings and trial.

They’re claiming agents were trained to do it. Massive.

novaculus on August 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM

There is a huge difference between making a traffic stop on a suspected vehicle containing drugs and “making an excuse” to cover a C.I. and what the feds are doing.

First it is a local agency and often the judge is told what happened. It is up to the judge to disclose it, at the risk of getting the C.I. killed. As long as he is comfortable with the information, it may remain confidential.

Here it is totally something different. The “source” may be illegal- the CI system is not. There is vetting and review if done properly. In a good case, the CI information is verified independently if possible.

The system here is what we all feared, that information illegally obtained is “cleaned” by the agency and turned against the citizenry.

Listen, law enforcement are supposed to be peace officers first, not in a game where bad guys cannot be allowed to get away. In a free society, bad guy get away all the time. Remember the old saying “it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than risk imprisoning one innocent man.”

The generation that spouted that saying more than any other is the generation now in power.

Go figure.

archer52 on August 7, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Maybe #Sharkquester has forced them to reduce investigation costs.

Axe on August 7, 2013 at 4:37 PM

If the phone data actually came from the NSA — something that hasn’t been established yet — then that means cooperation between Cabinet agencies that goes way above the DEA and NSA and into their parent departments, one of which is the DoJ. So why are we to trust the DoJ to investigate itself yet again for allegations of misconduct and abuse of power?

The same implication is true in Fast & Furious, which placed arms in the hands of the enemies of a foreign government with whom the US has treaty relations. This is arguably a casus belli and would have to have been run by the State Department if not the President himself. Either way, coordination at the cabinet level would have been required.

Socratease on August 7, 2013 at 4:38 PM

mongoose on August 7, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Without regard to the arguably justifiable sharing of intelligence, the issue here is concealing the truth from the court and the defendant and substituting falsehoods to support warrants and charges. That is illegal, and it violates every citizen’s constitutional right as a defendant to a fair trial.

novaculus on August 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

The system here is what we all feared, that information illegally obtained is “cleaned” by the agency and turned against the citizenry.

archer52 on August 7, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Yep. In a nutshell.

novaculus on August 7, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Priceless pic of holder :)…Where do you, guys. get them? :)…

jimver on August 7, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Priceless pic of holder :)…Where do you, guys. get them? :)…

jimver on August 7, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Pictures of Eric Holder looking clueless are pretty easy to find.

slickwillie2001 on August 7, 2013 at 4:57 PM

Great news: DoJ to investigate its own agency on surveillance activities

IOW, they will fix the responsibility at the level of rogue lower-level staffers in the Cincinnati office where it belongs.

And Holder will announce that their investigation clearly shows no one at the White House or Department of Justice had a clue what was going on.

Which somehow will be presented as if it’s a good thing.

There Goes the Neighborhood on August 7, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Congress needs to hold this investigation itself, in public, with subpoenas all around. Either that, or we need a special prosecutor independent of the DoJ whose mission won’t be to find the first low-level staffers that pop up onto whom blame can be shifted.

I’d be okay with a special prosecutor — if it were Jeff Sessions.

Otherwise, Congress needs to keep doing the investigation.

There Goes the Neighborhood on August 7, 2013 at 5:04 PM

All of their surveillance practices were approved at the highest levels of DoJ long ago.
The investigation will focus on who leaked this info to the public!

Another Drew on August 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Fox, hens and all that.

Schadenfreude on August 7, 2013 at 4:07 PM

….beat me…but I was going to use rabid…before ‘fox’…

KOOLAID2 on August 7, 2013 at 5:14 PM

You are all loons!

The articles I have read said that they were using information obtained from foreign police agencies from phone records and foreign wiretaps and were asked to conceal the source of the information (apparently in those countries many cops are being executed by the violent drug cartels/ also it is never a good thing to publicly state that you are helping the U.S. government in these same countries.

Comparing this to Fast and Furious is ridiculus. In one instance the U.S. government is providing weapons to drug cartel members with little tracking or hope of recovery (except maybe at a crime scene). In the other (DEA), they are apparently being provided leads from foreign sources and being asked to conceal the source (so they are not killed). Our government needs some degree of secrecy. The DEA should not be required to publicize a directory of all of their informants/sources. Or am I wrong?

I am convinced that from Liberals to Conservatives/Libertarians it is not a straight line but rather a circle where the extreme Liberals and extreme Conservatives link up and are one.

Natebo on August 7, 2013 at 5:19 PM

And of course the Whitehouse professional mouth-hole cannot comment because it’s…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

“Under investigation.”

WestTexasBirdDog on August 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

going out on a limb but I bet they clear themselves…hell maybe promotions for all involved.

jukin3 on August 7, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Let me save us all a lot of time… We did it, what are you gonna do a out it grandpa?

2Tru2Tru on August 7, 2013 at 5:34 PM

C’mon, we can trust Holder to get to the bottom of this right? I mean he doesn’t have far to go and everything.

ghostwalker1 on August 7, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Today’s three top lies….

1) The check is in the mail….

2) This is the most open and transparent Administration ever….

3) Eric Holder’s DoJ will honestly investigate itself for wrong-doing…

It’s past time for Boehner to form / name a House Select Committee for the investigation of Holder / DoJ (Fast & Furious, New Black Panther Party, Perjury / Contempt of Congress) and Obama (NSA – James Rosen, IRS/FEC – Lois Lerner).

The MSM will castigate the Speaker – but then, they’re doing that already whenever he doesn’t kowtow to the President.

Athos on August 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM

b

2Tru2Tru on August 7, 2013 at 9:36 PM