Gosh, who ever would have seen this coming?

Reuters revealed a shocking story yesterday: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a Sooper Seekrit division with access to NSA’s data, intercepts and wiretaps it uses to tip off local cops to suspected drug activity. The cops, knowing they can never reveal the source of their information, engineer a ruse—like a routine traffic stop—to make the investigation seem otherwise legitimate. A former federal agent who received such tips 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.

The no-longer-secret DEA unit is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. It is comprised of two dozen partner agencies, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels cover up the U.S. government’s shenanigans in Central and South America, it now assists local police in launching criminal investigations of Americans.

These cases almost never have anything to do with terrorism or national security, of course. But fortunately for us, we are now safe from weed dealers.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different.”

It is? Citation needed, Nancy.

Did anyone, anywhere, seriously believe that this massive domestic surveillance infrastructure (that doesn’t even work) would only ever be used to Keep Us Safe™ from The Terrorists™? I mean anyone other than the DC pundit class, the mainstream media, Peter Singer, and right-wing authoritarians who never met a panty-sniffer they didn’t like. Once we vested the government with unchecked, unconstitutional powers for the purpose of with the excuse of fighting terrorism, what possible argument could anyone make against turning it on ordinary citizens? It hardly takes a genius (or a cynic) to figure this shit out. It’s bloody fucking obvious from, you know, all of history — including the recent history of the United States. This is what governments do whenever they can get away with it: entrench their own power and suppress dissent. Always.

Here are a few hilarious quips from the Reuters article:

“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”

Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”

Hahaha. “Unconstitutional.” As if that’s a thing.

“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”

OMFGLOL! How about this one:

Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent.

40% of the tips are inaccurate? What could possibly go wrong?

I, for one, cannot wait until real-time cell phone location data is put to use targeting jaywalkers and drone bombing those motherfuckers the second they step off the curb. Enemy combatants, the lot of ’em.

2 thoughts on “Gosh, who ever would have seen this coming?

  1. I’m less concerned about government spying on U.S. citizens leading to “droning” of jaywalkers (they’ll get what they have coming to them, by God) than I am of the ability of future Republican administrations to prosecute blasphemers, slackers who fail to turn up at church services or resist intoning the magic and reverential words “under God” when taking the Pledge.

  2. Um…the jaywalkers thing was an exaggeration. Well, at least I hope it was anyway. My point is that if the feds’ spying powers can be directed at weed dealers, who can’t they target?

    I find it… interesting that your concern is with “Republican administrations,” when the Democratic one presently in power has done more to entrench and expand these programs than a Republican one ever did, and possibly ever could.

    The power is ripe for abuse no matter which party holds the White House. (As both parties are right-wing I’m not convinced it makes much difference which one.) As much as I loathe religion—and I really, really do—I do not want my government monitoring or interfering with the freedom of religious people to revere and chant whatever bullshit they want to. That is equally as evil and pernicious as the government policing people like me: godless militant blasphemers who refuse to say “under god” in the pledge and throw underage lesbian abortion parties every Friday night. It has nothing to do with the benevolence or malevolence of the person, party or institution wielding it. It’s the power I object to. I trust no one with it, not even myself. Do you?

    In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.
    Thomas Jefferson.

    By the way, I almost never cross a street without jaywalking.

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