Naturally: DEA paid $850K for private info it could have gotten for free
posted at 10:01 pm on August 11, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Drug Enforcement Administration paid an Amtrak secretary $854,460 over nearly 20 years to obtain confidential information about train passengers, which the DEA could have lawfully obtained for free through a law enforcement network, The Associated Press has learned.
The employee was not publicly identified except as a “secretary to a train and engine crew” in a report on the incident by Amtrak’s inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who “regularly” sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak’s approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.
Under a joint drug enforcement task force that includes the DEA and Amtrak’s own police agency, the task force can obtain Amtrak confidential passenger reservation information at no cost, the inspector general’s report said. Under an agreement, Amtrak police would receive a share of any money seized as a result of such drug task force investigations, and Amtrak’s inspector general concluded that DEA’s purchase of the passenger information deprived the Amtrak Police Department of money it would have received from resulting drug arrests.
So, there are so many things here. The DEA laying claim to wide swaths of confidential passenger information. Since I don’t love the activity, maybe I should at least be glad they had to pay for it, in the hopes that maybe it cut down on the amount of info they gathered? But then, they’re spending taxpayer money to dredge up info on taxpayers, so now I’m no happier. In the end, this is at once invasive and incompetent, which pretty much sums up the federal government.