Shorter DOJ: It’s No Big Deal if DEA Agents Destroy Evidence

DOJ’s Inspector General wrote Senators Collins and Lieberman a letter summarizing its investigation into DEA Agents involved in the Secret Service sex scandal in Cartagena, Colombia.

What’s getting attention is that the DEA agents arranged a prostitute for a SS Agent. All three engaged sex workers the night in question.

But what should be getting attention is that the DEA agents, when they learned about the scope of the investigation, deleted incriminating information from their Blackberries. And DOJ–in part because it conducted compelled interviews it knew couldn’t be used in a prosecution–won’t charge them.

The OIG investigation found further that all three DEA agents had deleted data from their DEA issued Blackberry devices, and that DEA agents #1 and #2 did so after learning of the scope and nature of the OIG’s investigation. DEA agent #1 admitted to the OIG that he deleted relevant data from his Blackberry after being requested to surrender his device to the OIG. DEA agent #2 stated that he “wiped” all data from his Blackberry before providing it to the OIG, but denied that he intended to obstruct the OIG investigation. He stated that he wiped all data from his Blackberry in an effort to conceal embarrassing communications between him and his wife.

The investigation was an administrative review and all of the interviews of the DEA agents were compelled. Given all of those facts and circumstances, we did not view the matter to warrant criminal prosecution.

By compelling the interviews, the IG effectively immunized the DEA Agents, ensuring they could not be charged with obstruction. Not to mention, the Scott Bloch precedent–in which he deleted evidence and now DOJ is bending over backward to make sure he doesn’t pay any price for lying about doing so–makes it clear that DOJ will never prosecute one of its own for the kind of crime they prosecute others for all the time.

Still, let it be know that DOJ doesn’t give a shit that its DEA Agents obstruct justice and delete evidence.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

8 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    Swore I wasn’t going to do this. But this report, the “official” reaction and EW’s recognition of what’s being ignored is, well, too perfect not to dust off Mel Brooks’ summation:

  2. P J Evans says:

    If they’re saying that laws only apply to other people, why are they bothering to enforce any laws?

    /pissed citizen

  3. emptywheel says:

    @P J Evans: I think they’re saying the laws are in place to use as an excuse to keep the little people away from the government and the banks.

  4. P J Evans says:

    Works for a while. But at some point they have to choose which side of the law they want to be on, and future administrations may, if we’re lucky, have better ethics.

  5. P J Evans says:

    @Tom in AZ:
    It’s hard to believe someone who appears to be that qualified could be worse than Alberto. But then it’s hard to believe that someone who taught con law would cheerfully shred the Constitution.

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