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SOD: Secret DEA Unit Conceals Criminal Case Evidence

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A Reuters exclusive published this morning details a startling discovery about the criminal case procedures of the Drug Enforcement Administration: documents obtained by the news organization reveal that agents of the DEA have been trained to “recreate” the trail of evidence for the purpose of concealing the original source of information.

Some experts, like Nancy Gertner of the Harvard Law School who served as a federal judge between 1994 and 2011, believe that this violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to fair trial on the grounds that the defendant will not know how to review exculpatory evidence that could reveal witness biases, mistakes worthy of mistrial, or entrapment on the part of police officers. “It is one thing to create special rules for national security… Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations,” Gertner said.

According to Reuters, a secret unit that has been officially a part of the DEA since 1994 but comprised of individuals from the FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS and DHS (you know, the all-star government organizations) known as the Special Operations Division. The job of SOD was originally to combat drug cartels in Latin America, but they often end up targeting Americans in their efforts to prevent the expansion of narcotics.

Although the SOD’s work is used in cases against defendants, DEA agents are instructed to not reveal the ways that the SOD is used in court, instead to use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.” This means that by the time the case reaches a courtroom, any evidence that SOD was involved has been essentially wiped from the record.

Although a Department of Justice spokesman declined Reuters’ request for comment, senior and former DEA officials defended the program, saying that parallel construction is not only legal but a regularly utilized law enforcement technique. A former DEA official described the process, saying that he would be told by SOD only to “‘be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ So we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle and have a drug dog search it.”

The process of parallel construction starts at the traffic stop, where the officials then recreate the information to “protect sources and investigative methods.” Another official said of the process that “[it's] a law enforcement technique we use every day… it’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”

Lawyers commenting on the topic have said that although parallel construction could be used to establish probable cause for an arrest, to use it as a method of concealing the initial origins of an investigation may violate pretrial rules. Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association has said that it’s “outrageous, [and] it strikes me as indefensible.”

Members of the ACLU have taken to Twitter in the wake of the news:

You can read the full Reuters story for yourself here.

SOD: Secret DEA Unit Conceals Criminal Case Evidence
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  • Mark Orion

    This looks like someone trying to create a news story out of a topic that’s not new or illegal…it’s just new to the reporter who’s trying to sensationalize. This type of reporting is systemic and weakening the country. The country gets mad when something tragic happens and yells that we’re not using our advanced skills enough. Then people cry that they don’t trust the government and want more restrictions. My hope is that people will trust the government again and in turn strengthen our country…we shall see.

  • http://www.wavevolution.org wavettore

    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.

    http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Commutalism

    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/freethinking.html

  • Please

    All I have to say is that there are a lot of innocent people in prison and a lot of guilty people running around free. People are only fooling themselves when they think of law enforcement and court system works. Some of the worst people on the planet are in law enforcement and the courts.

    It is to the point that we don’t know what the truth is about things. Nobody tells the truth any longer.

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