We now know NSA and other federal agencies routinely database domestic telephone metadata, full content of foreign calls, postal sender-recipient data and full content of email involving a foreign address. It is unclear where domestic drone video and spy satellite products are kept. Whenever that depth of coverage is insufficient, federal agencies can claim espionage or terrorist threats to get a FISA court order producing full content from any source. FISA court rules and decisions are classified. The public is kept in the dark.
NSA, FBI, DOJ, DEA, IRS and local law enforcement share the national security intelligence. Local police use is subject to a commitment that they fabricate a “parallel construction” — i.e. alternate plausible explanation of how they came to lawfully possess evidence and warnings of such pinpoint accuracy. This routine scam is documented in an IRS handbook inspired by DEA advice. For years, the scam suppressed the real evidence and its sources and produced fraudulent evidence (often said to be from confidential informants) to deceive defense attorneys, judges and prosecutors.
If normal Americans perpetrated this scam, they would be prosecuted for a RICO conspiracy. Already some defense attorneys are preparing appeals to convictions that relied on this faked evidence. We can expect an avalanche of unraveling convictions, a far tougher challenge for prosecutors to convince judges when there are real “confidential informants,” and there may be an attempt to have courts ban such reconsideration.
Misuse of Americans’ private information and falsification of evidence for court use are just the latest evils managed by DOJ attorneys. Some believe that oversight of our runaway security apparatus could contain the creeping evil. But four existing oversight boards (Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the Intelligence Oversight Board, and NSA’s own advisory board) have not stopped federal misbehavior.
Let’s be realistic. Politicians appoint oversight boards to shift blame or obfuscate. Right on cue, President Obama proposed a “blue ribbon” advisory panel to “navigate the challenges new technology produces for privacy.” The public needs genuine transparency, not political appointees spewing forth blue ribbon obfuscation. It seems the President and DOJ have attained a politicians’ nirvana – absolute power without answering to anyone.
Alan Daley is a retired businessman who lives in Florida and who writes for The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research