On the heels of exiled leaker Edward Snowden divulging details of NSA's startlingly broad electronic spying program and concerns over what may be massive privacy invasions, came news that should be even more troubling to all Americans. We've recently learned that not only has NSA been using data obtained from the surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets here in the United States, but this type of snooping isn't only being used for national security purposes. According to a Reuter's report, the NSA has been sharing its spy data from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a giant database of telephone records with other government agencies -- including a secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) unit which, in turn, is funneling the information to other authorities across the nation to assist launching criminal investigations of Americans. Narcotics agents are getting the information. So are local cops and even the IRS. But that's not all. The agents in the field who are ultimately making the arrests -- for charges rarely having anything to do with terrorism or national security -- are being instructed to cover up the truth about where the information originated.
No patriotic American wants another 9/11 or Boston Marathon bombing and many are willing to sacrifice a big chunk of liberty in the name of national security. However, this progressive "mission creep" -- in which the mission of preserving national security expands into governmental interests well past the original concerns -- can lead us into the dark and dangerous territory of a police state.
The DEA's secretive Special Operations Division (SOD) has been doling out the data to tip-thirsty law enforcement agencies nationwide. But, as the SOD is a super-secret government group, the recipients of their information are told not to divulge where it came from. Instead, the investigators are coached to fabricate stories in order to justify arrests. They have euphemistically named the process "parallel construction" -- the fabrication of how probable cause was obtained by the construction of an alternate and false account of how the investigation started and developed. The true sources of the original information are concealed from everyone. The defense lawyers never know the truth. In fact, even the prosecutors and the court are misled about the real details surrounding the case. What some call parallel construction others are calling information "laundering."
The impact on people accused of crimes is profoundly disturbing. How can defense lawyers effectively examine and challenge an investigation that's actually a sham? When the true facts of an investigation's origin and development are withheld not only from defense lawyers but from prosecutors and judges, the rights to a fair trial and to confront one's accusers are rendered meaningless. What has happened during evidentiary hearings and trials -- have the agents perjured themselves by testifying to the truth of fabricated cover stories? Have people been convicted in these cases? Clearly, these are not only serious violations of our Constitutional rights but a threat to the integrity of our entire criminal justice system.
So why aren't more people up in arms about the purported invasions of privacy for everyday Americans, the sharing of information garnered for national security purposes well beyond that mission, and the subsequent cover-ups of the real reasons for what may be thousands of arrests and convictions? Where is the outrage from the most vocal defenders of our Constitution on this one? Why aren't the same people who vigorously defend against the slightest encroachment upon the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms as vigorously defending our Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment protections from these attacks? Only concentrating on preserving our Second Amendment rights is like putting all of the palace guards at one gate -- myopically preoccupied with only one entrance while neglecting the others. That approach probably didn't work to defend palaces... and it certainly doesn't work when it comes to defending all of our protections as set forth in our Bill of Rights. There's more to our Constitution than just the Second Amendment, folks.
It's time for two things to happen. First, it's time for an independent Special Prosecutor outside the Department of Justice to be appointed to fully examine the situation. With all due respect to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, we need a fresh set of eyes. If laws were broken and rights were violated, the nation needs to know. Second, and most importantly, Americans need to develop and express their outrage over "spying and lying" practices and other Constitutional assaults. We need to take these violations of our other Constitutional rights as seriously as our Second Amendment rights, and let our elected officials know we feel this way. In order to truly be protected, we need a guard at every gate of the palace.