An ex-federal DEA agent describes a clandestine government surveillance and arrest program through use of an illustration, as follows. Information covertly received by a special unit within the DEA called the Special Operations Division (SOD) from an NSA satellite intercept, or perhaps via a wiretap or an informant, would be passed along to state police. The matter would usually relate to a suspected drug crime.
If a tip involved a vehicle being at a certain place at a specific time, for example, the SOD would relay that information. “[W]e’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it.”
Ultimately, the probable cause cited for a bust would be the reason stated by the state police for stopping it, even if in fact the stop was purely pretextual, with the police acting on other information. That “other” information supplied by the SOD would never be revealed in discovery or otherwise to any defense attorney, judge or prosecutor.
The goal: to provide local law enforcement departments with tips to make drug arrests while at the same time keeping the existence of the SOD completely secret.
Details concerning the SOD program have recently emerged through a Reuters report, with a large number of critics in the report’s wake damning the program for criminally investigating Americans within the United States without respecting their constitutional due process rights.
One prosecutor who learned that he had been lied to by a DEA agent about the source of information in a case refused to prosecute, saying that, “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law.”
Other persons are also speaking up, and a number of media accounts from diverse sources are picking up on the recent Reuters report. We will keep readers apprised of any new material developments that emerge concerning this unfolding story.
Source: Forbes, “More surveillance abuse exposed! Special DEA unit is spying on Americans and covering it up,” Rick Ungar, Aug. 5, 2013