By now, most of us probably are aware of the massive amounts of data collected on each and every one of us and is maintained out at the “Utah Data Center” aka NSA Spy Center. Add this gem to the collection pile. I for one want to know more about these “blanket administrative subpoenas” that are being used that I keep hearing about. Easy to pass this off as a “who cares.” Money counting machines you say? But it is the arrogance of our government that should be chilling.The government is collecting anything and everything. How much more that we don’t know about?
The Drug Enforcement Administration maintained a database of people who purchased money-counting machines as part of a “legally questionable” effort to identify suspected drug dealers for further surveillance and enforcement efforts, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
Beginning in 2008, the DEA began issuing “blanket administrative subpoenas to vendors to learn who was buying money counters,” all of which had “no court oversight and were not pegged to any particular investigation.” They then assembled a database of “tens of thousands” of individuals who had purchased the devices, using the information as leads in investigations.
Before we get to the meat of this abuse, let’s take a refresher as to why we should care and why this must be stopped.
March 21, 2013 — bunkerville
Filmed from Redwood Road, you can see the progress of the NSA’s Utah Data Center as it was being built also called the NSA Spy Center. There are quotes from various individuals who are knowledgeable or have worked for the NSA.
Back to the story:
The public version of the report, which noted that the program might not be legal, was heavily redacted as part of a DEA-inspector general joint process. But the Times wrote that due to a mistake, the inspector general failed to redact a section where it was mentioned that the DEA was not mentioning where their leads were coming from in case files:
Human Rights Watch researcher Sarah St. Vincent, who first flagged the redaction mistake, noted a 2008 email in which a DEA official wrote, “Unless a federal court tells us we can’t do this, I think we can continue this project.” Vincent told the Times that was curious, as the secrecy of the program precluded any judicial review. She also noted that it appeared to be an example of parallel construction, in which investigators attempt to conceal how a particular investigation began to avoid scrutiny in court.
According to the Times report, the DEA program was one of those shut down after Snowden leaked a massive archive of U.S. government secrets, including the existence of an NSA program to collect bulk metadata on Americans’ domestic phone calls; that program was later declared illegal by courts and replaced by Congress with a scaled-down program. (That successor program itself may be on the way out.) The controversy surrounding bulk records collection programs appears to have spooked the DEA.
Another DEA program “that used administrative subpoenas to collect bulk logs of outgoing international phone calls from the United States to countries linked to drug trafficking” was shut down in 2013, the same year as FBI agents raised their suspicions about the money-counter sales records program and it was discontinued, the Times wrote. According to the Washington Post, the inspector general report “came as close as it could to” declare the phone-data operation illegal.
The collection of the outbound international calls was “not connected to specific investigations or specific individuals under investigation” as would be necessary to justify it under law, Deputy Inspector General Bill Blier said in a statement. “This use of the subpoena authority conflicts with court decisions stating that a federal agency’s issuance of administrative subpoenas must be for records relevant or material to a specific investigation.”
More at Gizmodo
Below, William Binney describes in detail how the whole system works.
May 30, 2013
The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data. Chilling video “The Program”
June 6, 2013
Thanks to WhatFingerNews for the coverage