NSA Surveillance and Mission Creep
Last month, I wrote about the potential for mass surveillance mission creep: the tendency for the vast NSA surveillance apparatus to be used for other, lesser, crimes. My essay was theoretical, but it turns out to be already happening.
Other agencies are already asking to use the NSA data:
Agencies working to curb drug trafficking, cyberattacks, money laundering, counterfeiting and even copyright infringement complain that their attempts to exploit the security agency’s vast resources have often been turned down because their own investigations are not considered a high enough priority, current and former government officials say.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is already using this data, and lying about it:
A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin—not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence—information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
I find that “some experts say” bit funny. I suppose it’s Reuters’ way of pretending there’s balance.
This is really bad. The surveillance state is closer than most of us think.