Congress requests answers from DoJ on possible abuse of power allegations concerning NSA

posted at 3:20 pm on August 27, 2013 by Bruce McQuain

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.

~McQ

Blogging at QandO


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

Holder would refuse to tell you what he had for breakfast today, and call you a racist as he huffily stomped from the room. The man is a living, breathing parody of a leftist fool who is in so far over his head that he would need a million-rung ladder to get out.

Bishop on August 27, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Congress requests answers from DOJ.

Congress: We want answers

DOJ: I don’t want to answer so what are you going to do about it?

Congress: (absolute silence)

chemman on August 27, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Holder would refuse to tell you what he had for breakfast today, and call you a racist as he huffily stomped from the room. The man is a living, breathing parody of a leftist fool who is in so far over his head that he would need a million-rung ladder to get out.

Bishop on August 27, 2013 at 3:25 PM


I respectfully suggest a different perspective …

Holder is swimming in a cess pool of his own design and making. As such, he is happier than a pig in slop.

PolAgnostic on August 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Yeah good luck with that.

supernova on August 27, 2013 at 3:31 PM

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.

Criminal defense appellate practice about to go into overdrive. It’s possible lots of nasty characters will get released.

Son of Cointelpro.

rbj on August 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Congress requests answers…

Until Congress starts demanding answers, they’re no more useful than a barrel of quacking ducks.

squint on August 27, 2013 at 3:34 PM

PolAgnostic on August 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

You may be right, this is the most authority an idiot like Holder will ever get so he’s making the most of it. All that power and the ability to play his race card and hammer whitey with no repercussions; joy and contentment for the dude.

Bishop on August 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Seems the Tree of Liberty is in dire need of a watering.

No dictator, no tyrant, comes to power through the electoral process with promises to destroy the nation, kill thousands if not millions, impoverish generations, raid the treasury for every personal whim, reward favorites and punish those who displease, all from the public trough, and rape the resources of the countryside…

No, they come to power with glowing promises of helping the working man, the laborer, the poor, to protect them from the elite rich capitalist bent on keeping them forever slaves…they pass laws, they hide budgets, they enlist the aid of various non-governmental power groups, the unions, and such…until a point is reached when the quiet, dedicated regular folks, just trying to raise a family and keep a job find that they can do neither…for they are totally owned by the state…entirely…and to resist is futile…for all power lies with the state, gun owners long sinced arrested, guns confiscated, made to be pariah for it is the bitter clingers of society who stand in the way of progress, progress, that perfect Fabian utopia…progress…progress at all costs…freedom is slavery…

Just because he has a cool personality, and is hip, is clean and articulate, and dances on Ellen…is that any reason not to hold government accountable…it is our government…or once was, not that long ago.

NSA is a US military organization, has been since it was first chartered. A military organization being used against American citizens. Not for national security, nor even defense, but to keep the leader and party in power.

Precedent has been established.

At what point can other military organizations be called in to protect the leader and the party…in the midst of some concocted crisis perhaps…but will Americans recognize it when it happens?

I seriously doubt it for the huge majority of Americans.

A decade ago, I would laugh at myself for writing the above words…

Today?

Nothing to laugh about.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I imagine that Holder would sue congress if he could.

tommer74 on August 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM

While we wait to find out definitively, let’s lob some cruise missiles at ‘em.

/Oops! Wrong thread.

txhsmom on August 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

BTW, is Holder still “in contempt of Congress.”

Why is he and his organization still being funded?

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM

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.

Well said.

This country was founded on some “revolutionary concepts” – like those of checks and balances across a limited government, focusing on the equality of opportunity as opposed to the equality of results, embracing personal accountability and responsibility, and empowering / growing a middle class.

In 1993, legend has it a Clinton WH official quipped a variation of ‘Power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts’….changing to ‘Power corrupts, and absolute power….is pretty cool’.

We’re experiencing that type of government today in the progressive fascism that is the Obama Administration. The so-called political opposition is not fulfilling their role, somehow believing the mantra from the Fourth Estate and others that the path to electoral success comes from being progressive-lite as opposed to returning to core conservative values.

This is why the Tea Party is a threat – to the establishment of both parties and why this voice of the people remains so important. And this is why the Tea Party is a target. It is a threat to the establishment….just as those Tea Partiers of 1776 were a threat to the Royal establishment.

Athos on August 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

BTW, is Holder still “in contempt of Congress.”

Why is he and his organization still being funded?

Because the GOP House Leadership is part of the problem…not part of the solution.

Athos on August 27, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Tha NSA was listening in on Governor Romney’s campaign phones and tapping their computers. It’s just a matter of time before the full magnitude of the corruption in the REB’s administration becomes known.

Of course, there will be squishy Republicans who will never face the truth because then they might have to do something about it.

slickwillie2001 on August 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

BTW, is Holder still “in contempt of Congress.”

Why is he and his organization still being funded?

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 3:41 PM


Two reasons:

1) The NSA programns have been used to compromise EVERY member of Congress using the EXACT SAME “process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as “parallel construction.”

2) There has never been a more CONTEMPTIBLE Congress in the history of this country. Birds of a feather DO flock together.

PolAgnostic on August 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Holder squinting, hah, his way of pivoting to a lie.

jake49 on August 27, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Nothing to laugh about.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Solid post, Sir. Made me queasy all 5 times I read it, but spot-on.

Harbingeing on August 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Criminal defense appellate practice about to go into overdrive. It’s possible lots of nasty characters will get released.

Son of Cointelpro.

rbj on August 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

If I was a drug guy that got a conviction in the last 5 years or so, I would be appealing big time. Make them prove that the NSA didn’t give them a “tip”, trot out the initial stop by the cops during the new discovery phase, make the cops prove that the NSA didn’t give them a tip, reasonable doubt comes into play in a new Jury trial. Not saying this is right, but we should be seeing a flurry of mistrial actions across the country in a few years or so.

Johnnyreb on August 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Johnnyreb on August 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Just about any criminal conviction…Pandora’s Box has been opened.

Not pretty.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Johnnyreb on August 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Just about any criminal conviction…Pandora’s Box has been opened.

Not pretty.

coldwarrior on August 27, 2013 at 4:08 PM

We could also go the other way, open up the NSA databases to any search warrant or civil discovery order.

That might rock Congress into actually doing something about corruption in the REB’s administration.

slickwillie2001 on August 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM

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.

Yeah, if it turns out that Boehner, McConnell, and other establishment Republicans knew about all this domestic spying and said/did nothing. They should be kicked out along with the Democrats who knew. This should be a bipartisan uprising.

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 4:40 PM

We could also go the other way, open up the NSA databases to any search warrant or civil discovery order.

That might rock Congress into actually doing something about corruption in the REB’s administration.

slickwillie2001 on August 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM

I think we should demand a law that any search of our information by the NSA and any transfer of that information to another government agency would require prior notification of the citizen being snooped on with a period of time to object. No exceptions for criminal investigations because domestic spying is a violation of our civil rights. Law enforcement abused the latitude they were given so it should not be granted for future investigations. So what if a tax cheat goes free? That’s the cost of breaking the law and abusing the public trust.

Happy Nomad on August 27, 2013 at 4:44 PM

So when do we start that dialogue about a “2nd American Revolution”?

GarandFan on August 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Is this really the type government we want?

Yes. The voters spoke last November.

Enjoy the ride, my friends.

SCsteve on August 27, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Is this really the type government we want?

Better Question: Will we be reading more from Bruce McQuain at HotAir?

CiLH1 on August 27, 2013 at 6:22 PM