News / USA

DEA Program Differs From Recent NSA Revelations

A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division (SOD) is seen in this undated photo.
A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division (SOD) is seen in this undated photo.
Reuters
Former spy-agency contractor Edward Snowden has caused a fierce debate over civil liberties and national security needs by disclosing details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs.

Reuters has uncovered previously unreported details about a separate program, run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, that extends well beyond intelligence gathering.

Its use, legal experts say, raises fundamental questions about whether the government is concealing information used to investigate and help build criminal cases against American citizens.

The DEA program is run by a secretive unit called the Special Operations Division, or SOD.

Here is how NSA efforts exposed by Snowden differ from the activities of the SOD.

Purpose of the programs

NSA: To use electronic surveillance to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation catchterrorists, the U.S. military fight wars, and the Central Intelligence Agency collectintelligence about foreign governments.

SOD: To help the DEA and other law enforcement agents launch criminal investigations of drugdealers, money launderers and other common criminals, including Americans. The unit also handlesglobal narco-terrorism cases.Gathering of evidence NSA: Much of what the agency does remains classified, but Snowden's recent disclosures showthat NSA not only eavesdrops on foreign communications but has also created a database ofvirtually every phone call made inside the United States.

SOD: The SOD forwards tips gleaned from NSA intercepts, wiretaps by foreign governments, court-approved domestic wiretaps and a database called DICE to federal agents and local lawenforcement officers.

The DICE database is different from the NSA phone-records database. DICE consists of about 1 billion records, and is primarily a compilation of phone log data that islegally gathered by the DEA through subpoenas or search warrants.

Disclosure to the accused

NSA: Collection of domestic data by the NSA and FBI for espionage and terrorism cases is regulated by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

If prosecutors intend to use FISA orother classified evidence in court, they issue a public notice, and a judge determines whetherthe defense is entitled to review the evidence. In a court filing last week, prosecutors said they will now notify defendants whenever the NSA phone-records database is used during aninvestigation.

SOD: A document reviewed by Reuters shows that federal drug agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to conceal the SOD's involvement.  Defense attorneys, former prosecutorsand judges say the practice prevents defendants from even knowing about evidence that might beexculpatory.

They say it circumvents court procedures for weighing whether sensitive, classifiedor FISA evidence must be disclosed to a defendant.Oversight NSA: Congressional leaders and intelligence committee members are briefed on the NSA'sclassified programs.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews and approves warrantsfor domestic eavesdropping.SOD: DEA officials who oversee the unit say the information sent to law enforcementauthorities was obtained through subpoena, court order and other legal means.

A DEA spokesmansaid members of Congress "have been briefed over the years about SOD programs and successes." This includes a 2011 letter to the Senate describing the DICE database. But the spokesman saidhe didn't know whether lawmakers have been briefed on how tips are being used in domestic criminal cases.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Hansen from: Chicago
August 05, 2013 3:47 PM
This is a fundamental subversion of justice and denial of due process. What more needs to be said?

by: Larry from: Texas
August 05, 2013 3:38 PM
Great story .... but the number of typos and run together words is very unprofessional!

by: wavettore from: USA
August 05, 2013 1:56 PM
How could the classified information be protected for the safety of one Country and also made sure that the citizens of that same Country are not the target of that top secret, like in the 9/11 false flag attack for example? Should State secrets exist? If State secrets were to be eliminated only in a certain Country how could this Country then protect itself? For example, if the United States were to divulge every secret then how could they do it without the risk of remaining victims of their same disclosed secrets? Is it possible to balance the power between secret State Agencies and the right to know of every citizen?

Secret State Agencies have always been the stations to enroll new "initiated" and are still today the alcoves where the darkest ideas have been plotted in the name of a “Greater Good”. To accept that such relevant secrecy is reserved for only a few individuals is to also accept that non governmental secret societies will continue to flourish behind closed doors and to advance their agenda while they remain well hidden from the eye of the unaware citizen. Any head of secret service should never become president of a Country, like in the cases of Bush or Putin. To know everything about everyone is a weapon like no others and that is also the shortest course for a Democracy to be turned into a Dictatorship. The secret State Agencies will be those to pave the way for a New World Order. The current system of government seems to offer no other alternative.
And from here is the need for a total renewal in the concept of government.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs