Another obvious reason the NSA story is so damned important

Other Agencies Clamor for Data N.S.A. Compiles

The recent disclosures of agency activities by its former contractor Edward J. Snowden have led to widespread criticism that its surveillance operations go too far and have prompted lawmakers in Washington to talk of reining them in. But out of public view, the intelligence community has been agitated in recent years for the opposite reason: frustrated officials outside the security agency say the spy tools are not used widely enough.

“It’s a very common complaint about N.S.A.,” said Timothy H. Edgar, a former senior intelligence official at the White House and at the office of the director of national intelligence. “They collect all this information, but it’s difficult for the other agencies to get access to what they want.”

“The other agencies feel they should be bigger players,” said Mr. Edgar, who heard many of the disputes before leaving government this year to become a visiting fellow at Brown University. “They view the N.S.A. — incorrectly, I think — as this big pot of data that they could go get if they were just able to pry it out of them.”

Smaller intelligence units within the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secret Service, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have sometimes been given access to the security agency’s surveillance tools for particular cases, intelligence officials say. […]

At the drug agency, for example, officials complained that they were blocked from using the security agency’s surveillance tools for several drug-trafficking cases in Latin America, which they said might be connected to financing terrorist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Of course, the DEA has never had any problems coming up with a drug-terror connection whether one exists or not.

So… The DEA is upset that the NSA won’t share all of its illegally obtained information with them. Yet what happens when we share something we got illegally?

Note: I would take the totality of this story in the New York Times with a major grain of salt. The complaining by other agencies that they’re not getting enough NSA data could be a ruse to try to show that at least the NSA data isn’t getting used by everyone, as evidenced by this statement from a former senior intelligence officer.

As furious as the public criticism of the security agency’s programs has been in the two months since Mr. Snowden’s disclosures, “it could have been much, much worse, if we had let these other agencies loose and we had real abuses,” Mr. Edgar said. “That was the nightmare scenario we were worried about, and that hasn’t happened.”

Yeah, right. Given everything else that has come to light, why should we believe that? After all, if a programmer at a government contractor like Booz-Allen had relatively unfettered access, how can we be sure that the DEA didn’t?

Update: And sure enough… we now have this:

Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

(Reuters) – 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. […]

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.

After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”

And despite Reuter’s blaring headline, those in the know will tell you that this isn’t in any way new, but has been going on for a long time.

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40 Responses to Another obvious reason the NSA story is so damned important

  1. DdC says:

    Members of Congress Denied Access to Basic Information About NSA by Glenn Greenwald
    Documents provided by two House members demonstrate how they are blocked from exercising any oversight over domestic surveillance

    ‘The Tide Has Turned’: NSA Protesters Amass for #1984Day

    Edward Snowden and Washington’s revolving-door culture
    The recent NSA leak reveals the disturbing extent to which the US’ government and corporate sectors have merged.

    Snowden’s NSA Domestic Surveillance Revelations Are Old News
    Snowden is on the run from the US government because of his act, while working for private contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, of leaking documents that reveal the Defense Department’s National Security Agency (NSA) is carrying out widespread domestic surveillance.

    The fruits of elite, immunity.

    • DdC says:

      Edward Snowden thread

      ☛Two Secretive Israeli Companies Reportedly Bugged
      The US Telecommunications Grid For The NSA

      ☛How to Get the NSA to Follow You on Twitter

      ☛Activists Launch “Operation Troll The NSA for June 12, 2013

      ☛DEA Special Operations Division
      Covers Up Surveillance Used To Investigate Americans: Report

      ☛LEAP ‏@CopsSayLegalize
      More insight into the SOD

      ☛DEA Using NSA and CIA Intelligence to Spy on and Arrest U.S. Citizens for Drugs; Agency Manufacturing Cover Investigations to Mislead Judges, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys

      ☛500,000 contractors can access NSA data hoards
      Firms like Booz Allen have army of employees, but only Snowden spoke up
      By Natasha Lennard

      ☛Secretive DEA program is using terrorism task forces to help local police make small-time drug busts
      By David Martosko In Washington
      A secret U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is using terrorism task forces to help local police take down small-time drug dealers, sources have told MailOnline.

      ☛techdirt ‏@techdirt
      Someone Using A US Senate IP Address Edits Wiki Entry To Change Ed Snowden From ‘Dissident.

      ☛What Do You Think Of National Security Leaker Edward Snowden?
      [POLL] 72% of 5000 say he’s a hero.

      ☛Edward Snowden and Washington’s revolving-door culture
      Who’s running the drug war?
      Bushladen and the Terrorists Carlyles Groups
      MKULTRA: CIA Mind Control
      Bush/Quayle/Lilly Pharmaceutical Sellout!

      ☛Snowden’s NSA Domestic Surveillance Revelations Are Old News

      ☛Bush Family Acreage in SA google

      • darkcycle says:

        That’s pretty complete, thanks for the link to the Mail Online piece. First time I have ever a) found news I didn’t already have from them, and b)didn’t come away from there -angry-disgusted-perplexed-insulted-or filthy like I need a shower (choose one, hell…choose them all)
        Thanks, DdC.

  2. CJ says:

    you’re so right and all of this just makes me shake my head. Well, I’ve been homeless for the past two months thanks to that wonderful form of “helping” (people who’re making a decision with their own bodies) called “tough love” and truthfully it wasn’t the first or second time but it’s very unpleasant, very painful, starvation hurts and panhandling and can collecting are not fun. But I have returned to a residence now, it’s delicate, it won’t last long I presume (still exercising the same choices as before) but anyway the reason I mention it is because to me it just seems so absolutely hopeless and so blatantly wrong and dare I use one of the terms the propagandists love, dare I call it “evil” even. I mean while I was briefly out there, 4 friends were arrested, I doubt any of them are going to see the light of day for atleast a year. One person died. It’s barbaric but it’s the same lifestyle so many have lived in even back to the 1970’s.

    Homeless, starve, dope sick all day, panhandle – and if you’re a male youre screwed. Girls get money, even the ugliest of them, and if you have a canine compatriot you’re gonna get money as well. But just a man alone out there, it sucks. Almost everyday with the occasional exception, it was about a 3-5 hour effort to make 10 bucks (a bag). Oh, it’s brutal. Then there’s the constant pain in the feet from the walking everywhere, the back from the sleeping on the ground, and all of this boils down to a choice to do something and its rich how some will tell you the substance caused this. I argue with my family all the time, they say “look at what it’s done to you” but i guarantee if you take a bag of heroin and put it on a table and watch it, it will not magically cause any homelessness or pain or anything like that whatsoever. It’s the status of it, the illegality of it. And my point is I just don’t see it getting better at all in America. I read this and similar stories and it’s not that I’d give up but really I feel like, anyway, that there’s no hope. None. I was in a detox and the director even agreed that America was backwards, so behind the forward thinking countries of Europe – and even Vancouver in Canada! I really think that the only answer is to get out of the country as fast as you can. I mean, if you’re strictly a weed smoker well you’ve got options, moving from one state to the other and just a generally more welcoming world for you but otherwise, secure long term residence or citizenship elsewhere by any means necessary and get out of here as fast as you can because if you don’t want to quit the system will kill you eventually. I don’t see any alternative.

  3. jean valjean says:

    think you nailed there pete. this article is chaff spread out by the gov to cover its tracks. as if dea would not have access to this material, its laughable. plus the nyt has become the paper of record for gov dirty tricks since at least the iraq war

  4. Howard says:

    Two words from the Yahoo article posted by Frank W.;

    ‘Parallel Construction’

    Occasionally I say to myself, “It can’t get any worse”. I’m wrong yet again.

    • Jean Valjean says:

      Jeez….if there were any rule of law in this country people like Michele Leonhart would be under arrest… malpractice, false imprisonment, lying under oath….the list would go on an on in any honest investigation of these rogue government agencies…
      I wonder how the NYT will cover this latest turn?

  5. atrocity says:

    Fuck the USA.

    • allan says:

      short pier, long walk, take it.

    • Windy says:

      Actually you should have written “fuck the government of the USA”, the land itself is beautiful and not guilty of anything, and the majority of the people do NOT agree with these government actions, so do not revile them, either. The full blame falls at the feet of an unconstitutionally out of control government and the people who benefit from prohibition and other unconstitutional government actions and activities.

      • primus says:

        The blame falls at the feet of the sheeple who don’t listen, don’t think, and don’t give a damn about anything except what’s on TV tonight. They are the voters who unquestioningly elect the same tired politicians with the same old tired speeches and the same old tired approaches which don’t work. And the sheeple keep on voting them in, no matter what. The political ‘machine’ is evident in your system when many incumbents go unchallenged. Why is it that the same old hackneyed faces show up in congress? It’s the sheeple, man, the sheeple.

        • Windy says:

          I think you are incorrect, more and more over the years I am seeing signs that elections are rigged — the candidates are chosen by the party elites not by the voters, the voters are never given any real choice in who gets on the ballot, because the party bosses have made certain the only choices are tweedle dee and tweedle dum. My participation in WA State’s caucuses (we don’t really have a primary any more, again thatnks to the two ruling parties) I saw it with my own eyes, cheating was blatant to make sure only the ones the party bosses want in get on the ballots.

  6. Servetus says:

    “If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.”

    What better reason could there be for taking every drug case to trial?

    • jean valjean says:

      great point

    • kaptinemo says:

      Indeed. I have no doubt that were it revealed to what extent this has been a factor in your ‘average’ drug case, we may find that a sizable number of convictions are now in serious jeopardy.

      With these ongoing revelations, defense lawyers all over the country have been handed a weapon whose potential to destroy the DrugWar cannot as yet be calculated..and may be incalculable.

      • kaptinemo says:

        And to get these latest revelations from a defense lawyer’s perspective, a link to Jeralyn’s TalkLeft. Highly advisable that visitors here read it.

        That it was being done was ‘old news’; it’s the magnitude and pervasiveness of it that is stunning, as are the ramifications for democracy in general; do you really think it stops with just drug cases? Think COINTELPRO on steroids…

        • Howard says:

          From the TalkLeft article you reference;

          “The use of “parallel construction” and the admission by former DEA agents to Reuters that DEA hides the true origin of investigations from prosecutors, which means prosecutors can’t turn it over to the defense.”

          kaptinemo, you are correct. EVERY single drug case — past and present — is now suspect. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Even much older cases that might not have involved SOD should be reviewed. Why? Because who knows what prior secret activities might have been utilized before SOD came along? Prosecutors across the US had better be uttering a collective, “Oh, crap!”. It’s an understatement to suggest that defense attorneys and their clients are going to ‘revisit’ their cases.

          Although many revelations of government malfeasance often fall quickly from the rabid 24 hour news cycle, this one could have reach and depth. I certainly hope so.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      In the Commonwealth of Virginia the Commonwealth has the right to a jury trial too. In Virginia if the jury decides the verdict, then they get to sentence the people who they find guilty. Now just imagine the idea of having your sentence set to banjo music in Bumpass or Goochland and I think that you can figure out why Virginians don’t demand jury trials in drug cases when the guilty verdict is assured.

      It sounds real noble, let’s all stand together but there isn’t anyone except you there when the judge gives you your sentence. You need to give up this idea. It works for everybody except the guy that’s going to do the time.

      Don’t hold your breath while your waiting…

  7. claygooding says:

    I hope this helps wake America up. It is time to start fixing our legislature and the next election during a non-presidential election is perfect,,they won’t have all the idiot prez candidates taking the attention our voters need to have centered on their own state and local elections.
    NO incumbents should go back to DC except to close their offices.

  8. When I was a young man I occasionally would ask my father about the war. One thing he always impressed upon me was his conviction about guns. He said “never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to kill them”. It was sound advice.

    That leads me to the thought that I cannot shake off about the NSA. Why collect evidence on someone that you do not intend to use? Other agencies that ask are only more proof of intent to ignore constitutional protections by all the agencies. To think that this information will never be used is foolish.
    Quoting Justin Amash, (R-Mich.):
    “Without his doing what he did, members of Congress would not have really known about [those programs],” “Members of Congress were not really aware on the whole about what these programs were being used for and the extent to which they were being used. Members of the intelligence committee were told, but rank-and-file members really didn’t have the information.”

    “So, you still consider him a whistle-blower?” Wallace asked.

    “Yes,” Amash said, adding, “As I said, he may be doing things overseas that we’d find problematic, that we’d find dangerous … we’ll find those facts out over time. But as far as Congress is concerned, sure, he’s a whistle-blower. He told us what we need to know.”

    This guy is a whistle-blower and deserves the protection of a whistle-blower, not the “traitor” label Dick Cheney seems to prefer. Who is going to take this issue serious enough otherwise to do something about it? Snowden needs to have whistle-blower protection. Its the obvious door that is open to stopping this.

    • jean valjean says:

      i think amash has got the attention of a lot more people in mi because of this. id never heard of him before and i live in the state. its becoming the same at last with cannabis rights and other issues of liberty. people are pissed off with the sq and are ready to votte out the dinosaurs. lansing looks like voting on decrim for all adults in november. like amash it will younger pols who see the shift

  9. curmudgeon says:

    Anybody feel like we’ve been SODomized?

  10. ben says:

    This is thanks to Snowden. His example shows others that there is strong public support for whistleblowers, no matter what our president says. It inspires others to shine light on abuses of power.

  11. claygooding says:

    Justice Department reviewing DEA’s shielding of sources

    WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is reviewing law enforcement techniques used by the Drug Enforcement Administration that shield some initial sources for criminal investigations from being disclosed in court, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

    The review, prompted by a Monday Reuters news agency report, centers on the activities of the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD).

    Citing undated training documents, the report states that federal agents have been directed in some cases to conceal sensitive information – triggering the start of inquiries – from disclosure to defense attorneys and, in some instances, prosecutors and judges.

    “I would refer you to the Department of Justice on this,” Carney said. “And beyond that, I can tell that it’s my understanding â?¦ that the Department of Justice is looking at some of the issues raised in the story.”

    It seems that the DEA was even kee[ing the DOJ out of the’s not nice to piss off the DOJ,,hey?

    Unless of course they are just waving their hands in the air to distract.

  12. claygooding says:

    Weed: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports
    Premieres on CNN Sunday, August 11 at 8 pm ET
    Once considered a more underground activity, marijuana has become increasingly popular over the years, resulting in legalization to grow, sell and smoke it in states like Colorado and Washington. Cannabis has become one of the most controversial topics in America, but just decades ago it was a legitimate medication on U.S. formulary. No matter the circumstance, the debate over marijuana still exists and one question remains the same. Is marijuana bad for you or, could it actually be good for you?
    In “Weed” – a one hour documentary premiering on Sunday, August 11th at 8 pm ET – CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spends nearly a year traveling the globe to shed light on the debate.
    While it is part of a lifestyle for some, it is a lifeline for others including five-year-old Charlotte Figi. Charlotte suffers from a rare condition called Dravet’s syndrome, making her prone to up to 300 seizures per week. Like many people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes, parents Paige and Matt Figi tried every other option before resorting to this type of prescription. Sanjay follows their journey.
    Sanjay takes you to Colorado where weed dispensaries and pot cafes have become the norm. Dealers, doctors, users – Gupta meets with various people, like the Figis, offering a raw insight to what’s been dubbed “The Green Rush.” He also talks to experts about whether marijuana can be addictive—and whether it can contribute to long-term damage in the brain.
    Sanjay’s final stops are in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where he meets with some of the pioneers behind marijuana study, offering access to decades of innovative and cutting-edge research.
    Weed: Sanjay Gupta Reports will replay Sunday, August 11th at 11:00 pm ET and Monday, August 12th at 2:00 am ET.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Well it’s hopeful that he included Israel. Lately I’ve been telling people that say there’s no such thing as medicinal cannabis to go talk to the Jews. Yes folks, there’s exactly one (1) Country in the world where patients in the hospital can actually use this medicine. Even UCSF Medical Center shows Angel Raich the door despite her using a vaporizer. Yes that is where Dr. Abrams is a cancer and integrative medicine specialist.

      Seriously, it’s really hard for the naysayers to argue with the Israelis. They’re not hippies who used to get high, they’ve got no political agenda, and for crying out loud who can argue with an Orthodox rabbi when he says providing medicinal cannabis is a mitzvah, and using it is kosher?

      Yeah, yeah, except for Calvina and her ilk. But those people are probably anti-Semites anyway. Hmmm, that could be an interesting philosophical question, “Can an equal opportunity hater be labeled an anti-semite?” Certainly more challenging than stupid questions about falling trees making sounds.

      Israeli Rabbi: Medical Marijuana is ‘Kosher’

      Efraim Zalmanovich, the rabbi of Mazkeret Batia, a town south of Tel Aviv, made the halakhic ruling recently, saying: “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”

      However he concluded if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person supplying it is “performing a mitzvah,” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.”

      According to the Israeli health ministry, some 11,000 Israelis use medicinal marijuana.

  13. Sources: Secretive DEA program is using terrorism task forces to help local police make small-time drug busts

    “the DEA is using sophisticated intelligence tactics to help police departments build minor local narcotics cases.”

    • Servetus says:

      Wow. All that firepower. An omni-police-state to challenge the police powers of the Roman Empire, the Third Reich, and the GDR’s Stasi. And the DEA still finds it impossible to stop tens-of-millions of people from using drugs. Can’t the feds take a hint?

    • Jean Valjean says:

      the stuff coming out now gets worse every day…this is too big a story to be swept under the carpet…the public will eventually want to see the bill

  14. mr Ikasheeni says: Dedicated to Michelle Leonhart,

  15. Jean Valjean says:

    That’s a huge story about someone in the Senate editing Snowden’s wiki page from dissident to “traitor.” (Thanks DdC for the heads up). Yet the only msm source seems to be the Mail. There once was a time when dissidents all went the other way, from Russia (USSR) to the USA, so it is clearly going to hit a nerve to have US political refugees going the other way. It’s like the sensitivity of the Israeli government over the term “apartheid”…it clearly hits a nerve because it is apt. We need some more journalists like Glen Greenwald who are able to hold government feet to the fire and expose congressional corruption, secrecy and despotism. Reverse the internet spying and reveal the senator or staff member who did this.

    • claygooding says:

      I see where Israeli doctors and nurses are caring for the wounded Syrian refugees fleeing Syria,,things are getting strange all over.

      • Jean Valjean says:

        American doctors and nurses do the same all over the world. Not sure how either group excuses illegal activities by the US or Israeli governments.

  16. mr Ikasheeni says:

    Our POWs must be so excited about prospect 1 sided concessions at foggy bottom! Another charade!

  17. cy klebs says:

    Why must we quit chevron for their little backs for their aspirations.apartheid |əˈpärtˌ(h)āt, -ˌ(h)īt|
    noun historical
    (in South Africa) a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.
    • segregation on grounds other than race: sexual apartheid.

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