NSA Will Spy for Local Cops Under New Obama Administration Rules
New rules under development by the Obama administration will make it even easier for federal agencies like the FBI and DEA to access troves of phone calls, emails and location data collected by the NSA on millions of people, including Americans, and pass it on to local cops for everyday investigations, or basically any other purpose that suits them.Proponents of federal spying inevitably defend any objection to mass warrantless surveillance by playing the terrorism card.The NSA must be able to sweep up virtually everybody’s electronic data to protect America from terrorist attacks, so the argument goes. This carries a great deal of weight, especially in the wake of tragic bombings in Paris and Brussels. Many Americans brush off the constitutional violations and invasion of privacy inherent in NSA spy programs because they honestly believe they only target terrorists.But in fact, the vast majority of information dredged up by the U.S. spy apparatus ends up in the hands of state and local law enforcement for use in routine criminal investigations. Instead of “fighting terrorism,” the American surveillance state primarily serves as a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and prosecute the unconstitutional “War on Drugs.”We’ve known for several years that a DEA Special Operations Division utilizes warrantless data collected by the NSA for routine drug investigations. Reuters revealed the extent of NSA data sharing with state and local law enforcement in an August 2013 article. According to documents obtained by the news agency, the NSA passes information to police through the SOD. These cases “rarely involve national security issues.”
Former NSA technical director William Binney said the feds share information gathered without a warrant and direct the local police force to make an arrest. Using a process known as “parallel construction,” investigators then build their case using normal policing techniques, getting warrants for information they’ve already obtained. The process serves to hide the illegally gathered information, creating the illusion of a legitimate case.
As Washington Post columnist Radley Balko put it, parallel construction is “a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie.”
Binney called this “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”
A new policy quietly under development by the Obama administration will make it even easier for the NSA to share this information with no privacy screening. According to a New York Times report, “Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that the administration had developed and was fine-tuning what is now a 21-page draft set of procedures to permit the sharing.”
Under the proposed rule changes, federal agencies such as the FBI would gain direct access to streams of information gathered by the NSA, including emails, phone calls and location data. They would then be free to pass along this information to state and local law enforcement.
All of this can happen without any congressional or judicial oversight under a Reagan era executive order known as EO 12333.