DEA Likely Has More than One Dragnet

As yesterday’s USAT story on the DEA dragnet reported, DOJ’s Inspector General is investigating DEA’s dragnet. I first reported that in April 2014.

As I also reported in February, FBI is obstructing that investigation — so much so, that DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz encouraged Congress to start using appropriations to force it to stop.

The unfulfilled information request that causes the OIG to make this report was sent to the FBI on November 20,2014. Since that time, the FBI has made a partial production in this matter, and there have been multiple discussions between the OIG and the FBI about this request, resulting in the OIG setting a final deadline for production of all material of February 13,2015.

On February 12, 2015, the FBI informed the OIG that it would not be able to produce the remaining records by the deadline. The FBI gave an estimate of 1-2 weeks to complete the production but did not commit to do so by a date certain. The reason for the FBI’s inability to meet the prior deadline set by the OIG for production is the FBI’s desire to continue its review of emails requested by the OIG to determine whether they contain any information which the FBI maintains the OIG is not legally entitled to access, such as grand jury, Title III electronic surveillance, and Fair Credit Reporting Act information.

DOJ IG’s comments about this investigation are worth reconsideration for two reasons.

First, FBI’s obstruction of the investigation emphasize what we already knew from the Shantia Hassanshahi case (via which we first learned about this database). The FBI is (was) also using this database, and for purposes that far exceed counter-narcotics (Hassanshahi was busted for sanctions violations). And, as the Homeland Security investigator’s dramatically changing stories about how he first identified Hassanshahi suggest, for each of those usages, there’s likely some kind of parallel construction going on.

How many cases have been based off this giant dragnet?

But also look at how DOJ’s IG has described this investigation.

Administrative Subpoenas

The OIG is examining the DEA’s use of administrative subpoenas to obtain broad collections of data or information. The review will address the legal authority for the acquisition or use of these data collections; the existence and effectiveness of any policies and procedural safeguards established with respect to the collection, use, and retention of the data; the creation, dissemination, and usefulness of any products generated from the data; and the use of “parallel construction” or other techniques to protect the confidentiality of these programs.

DOJ IG is investigation DEA’s use of subpoenas to obtain broad collections of data or information. Its review will address the legal authority underlying these data collections.

Collections, plural.

Admittedly, we already know of two DEA dragnets: the international dragnet described by the USAT, and the domestic one — Hemisphere — though that resides at least partially with the White House Drug Czar.

But the authority used in the USAT dragnet, 21 USC 876, is the drug equivalent of Section 215, permitting the agency to obtain “tangible things” relevant to (that phrase again) an investigation. We know FBI used equivalent language under Section 215 to collect financial and Internet records as well.

Hell, the DEA couldn’t very well track drug cartels without following the money, via whatever means. Plus, we know cartels have used things like travelers checks and gift cards to move money in recent years.

So I would be willing to bet more than a few quarters that DOJ IG’s use of the term “collections” suggests there’s more than just these telecom dragnets hiding somewhere.

9 replies
  1. wallace says:

    quote”How many cases have been based off this giant dragnet?”unquote

    BINGO!! The Hundred Billion dollar question! The exact question that will cause heads in the DEA, FBI, US Marshals and DOJ to explode exponentially!… cause.. parallel construction. Same with Stingray’s.

    I’d be willing to bet some people in even the BOP and the OMB are cringing too.

  2. wallace says:

    last ps.. If Misprision of Felony was actually real.. they’d have to build 20 new prisons.

    “Misprision of felony” is still an offense under United States federal law after being codified in 1909 under 18 U.S.C. § 4:

    Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    Unfortunately..we all know.. rule of law is just a myth.

  3. wallace says:

    I lied. ps.. On a side lieu of actual prosecution, at least there is public humiliation. In this case.. of Dubya. At a public event “honoring” him no less.

    God I love seeing Bush admirers squirm. It’s too bad he wasn’t there in person.

    All I know is Phyllis Bennis burned Dubya at the stake big time. She now OWNS Obama’s NOBEL.

  4. orionATL says:

    would i be right in assuming that some entity within the doj but outside fbi would have had to aithorize the dea spying (and refusal to make spying product available to defense counsel)?

    if so, has the authorization for the dea’s spying been traced to the authorizing office, e.g., olc.

    or did the authorization come from the whitehouse thru one of its notorious executive orders?

  5. bobswern says:

    Once again, for the umpteenth time, many stenographers in the MSM, and even in the blogosphere, have gone to great lengths to confuse/conflate these redundant dragnet realities–as if they’re all just one program–over the past day or two, due to the publication of the USA Today piece late Monday/early yesterday. The “new and improved” bullshit smells just like the old bullshit. The Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher noted yesterday that the USA Today story could/may be about Operation CRISSCROSS/PROTON:

    Then again, to posit that these programs were terminated–and not expanded–when EVERYTHING we know about the current administration’s history on this subject tells us otherwise, is an exercise only for those most naive. Have these phone dragnet programs been moved around, renamed, and with many of these programs now being under the formal auspices of the FBI? Of course.

    When it comes to this subject, EO12333 (which provides much of the support for the existence of the Hemisphere Project, btw) trumps all other realities; and that includes “reality,” itself! (Not to mention the credibility of the government’s statements on these matters, on or bogusly off the record. Then again, the fact that this is all about a story that was “broken” at USA Today kind of tells us a lot, as well. Seriously? USA Today, that bastion of Fourth Amendment advocacy and progressive thought? Come on!)

    At some point, common sense dictates just about everything when it comes to this over-arching story. Because we sure as hell aren’t going to receive straight-up, formal confirmation from any source.

    Thankfully, there’s you, Marcy, to read between the lines of all of this pathetic disinformation.

    • bobswern says:

      What part of Senator Ron Wyden’s constant reminders that our government really does, to this day, still “collect it all,” doesn’t the public understand?

  6. galljdaj says:

    Early on during the Glory Days of the PNAC, I reflected back into the lil ronnie and daddy bush regimes, and decided these folks were systemically corrupt!

    In the first two years of the lil bush regime, I accused the US Govt of systemic violations of Our Laws and International Laws. Followed immediately by adding war crimes and torture to the ‘systemic violations’ of Our Govt.

    With the evidence pouring in tidal waves, its fair to say Our Govt, i.e., all three Branches’ are systemically corrupt. And. It has spread throughout all the State Governments.

    I once(actually numerous) complained the lil bush regime was sending Our Nation into 50-100 years of depression. With the election of lil obama, I saw the possibility were could turn the ship of state 180 degrees and recover in a little less than the 50 years min. Sadly lil obama has thrown nothing but fuel on the fire that scourges the Nation and has engulfed most of the World’s Peoples!

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