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The Courts

DEA Presentation Shows How Agency Hides Investigative Methods From Trial Review 266

v3rgEz writes "CJ Ciaramella stumbled upon some interesting documents with a recent FOIA request: The DEA's training materials regarding parallel construction, the practice of reverse engineering the evidence chain to keep how the government actually knows something happened away from prosecutors, the defense, and the public. 'Americans don't like it,' the materials note, when the government relies heavily on classified sources, so agents are encouraged to find ways to get the same information through tactics like 'routine' traffic stops that coincidentally find the information agents are after. Public blowback, along with greater criminal awareness, are cited among the reasons for keeping the actual methodologies beyond the reach of even the prosecutors working with the DEA on the cases."
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DEA Presentation Shows How Agency Hides Investigative Methods From Trial Review

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  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:48PM (#46146435) Homepage

    I completely agree that if, e.g., doing an illegal wiretap and then reconstructing the evidence through a more legitimate train is subservision of the system and should be prosecuted.

    But confidential informants, undercover work, legal wiretaps, etc. are all things which should be protected, and for which parallel evidence is a means of doing. In many cases, it is the civilians who are being shielded, not the police.

  • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @10:02PM (#46146537)

    Technically, conspiracy for depredation of rights under the color of law is punishable by death. It is legally constructed as domestic treason against the social compact, rather than wartime treason against the body republic.

    This shit would stop quick if some of these bastards faced the firing squad on national prime-time television.

  • by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @10:23PM (#46146631)

    The Constitution says the defense is supposed to get all the evidence. That's been taken to include the whole story of what opened the case, and what led the cops to look where.

    I'd love to see where you see that in the US Constitution, because no such specific language exists as far as I know. "Due process of law" is all that seems to be required, and in practice that means that discovery has to proceed in a normal manner and the prosecution may bring as much or as little evidence against you as they may require to convict you, no more or less. They must produce this evidence, and how they got it; any evidence they don't bring to court, they don't have to explain.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @10:28PM (#46146667)
    "Every time a cop has ever testified that he just had a "gut" feeling about a certain car"

    A "gut" feeling is neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion. Which is why the cop will simply lie and say your tail light was out or you failed to signal a lane change.
  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <> on Monday February 03, 2014 @10:47PM (#46146783)

    I'm trying to figure out why the DEA even exists. I know it exists to enforce drug laws but that is not what I mean. I found out a couple interesting facts about the DEA. One is that the DEA shares jurisdiction with the FBI. Any crime the DEA investigates the FBI can also investigate. That was something undoubtedly enacted to smooth over the politics of creating a new federal law enforcement agency.

    Another interesting fact is that the DEA shares authority with the FDA on the classification of drugs. I'm not quite sure on how this authority is shared but the DEA has some sort of say in how the Controlled Substances Act is applied to new and existing drugs.

    So, what does the DEA actually do that some other federal agency cannot? Apparently it can violate our rights and get away with it. It seems to me that the FBI somehow keeps itself above this crap. Perhaps its because the DEA is so good at violating our rights that the FBI lets them do the dirty work. Perhaps it's because the FBI is too busy investigating murders, assaults, rapes, arson, thefts, and so on (you know, "real" crimes) that they don't have to resort to such depths to keep busy.

    The way things are going now with the federal government turning a blind eye to violations of federal prohibitions on marijuana trade I suspect we are going to see marijuana reclassified under the Controlled Substances Act in less than five years. It might not be complete legalization and getting dropped from all controls but something has to change. I see marijuana getting federal control somewhere between alcohol and tobacco (getting carded upon purchase, high taxes, etc.) and Tylenol (strict laws on labeling, purity controls, but generally over the counter).

    I recall that the DEA gets most of its arrests and convictions from marijuana. When (not if, it's going to happen) marijuana laws change the DEA is going to have a real hard time justifying its own existence.

  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @11:13PM (#46146921)

    That's not how parallel construction works.

    Parallel construction is based on the idea that if a crime was committed, then it's unlikely that the bit you got by a non-admissable means was the only evidence of that crime.

    "Fruit of the poisonous tree" is also specific: what it means is that you can't use an inadmissable wiretap to then carry out a normally disallowed search to get evidence of a crime.

    So for example, it is not illegal for police to search through public parklands. It's public property after all, they can go there. If it was discovered someone had committed a murder and buried the body in a public park, but it was discovered by inadmissable wiretap (say, a hitman telling a client the job was completed) - then you couldn't use that intercept to get a warrant to go search their house for murder implements, or collect DNA.

    But you can suggest to law enforcement to check public parks for bodies, particularly within 100m of these coordinates or so. Law enforcement is normally able to do this, and might have stumbled across this anyway, or a hiker might have or something. If they then find the body, they can work backwards from the victim, rebuild the profile, and when it comes time to asking for warrants, they can happen to ask for a warrant against the intercept guy first (amongst others they would normally have done so with).

    All this evidence, collected this way, is admissable because it could have been discovered as a part of normal, admissable police/law enforcement procedure. It's public, it's out in the open and you have to explain it because it was perfectly legal to collect it.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @11:38PM (#46147063) Journal

    > All this evidence, collected this way, is admissable because it could have been discovered

    The ccops illegally tap your phone line and hear about a pot deal.
    What did not happen is that a a K9 officer COULD HAVE been taking the dog out for a walk when they just happened to walk by a car full of pot. That didn't happen, but it could have.

    If I'm understanding you correctly, you are claiming that the cops can search the vehicle and it's not fruit of a poisonous tree because they could have stumbled upon it. They didn't, but they could have. Do you have a citation for that? In all of American jurisprudence has any appeals court held that it's okay to violate the Constitution because they could have not violated it? I know a certain "law professor" (who never taught law) who might believe that, but has the court ever ruled such?

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @12:42AM (#46147311)

    and any potentially exculpatory evidence.

    Since with an analysis by the defense, together with additional statements, ANY kind of evidence the prosecution has might turn out to be exculpatory or pertinent to the defense --- they can't withold anything they gathered.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:08AM (#46148009)

    Purely coincidentally, law enforcement agencies have a penchant for using confidential informants.

    Simply having an anonymous tip can serve to get some fact or allegation into the record to serve as a basis for investigation.

      Cops have been using those tactics for decades to protect undercover officers or snitches embedded in criminal organizations. Parallel Construction simply applies this technique of protecting sources from retribution, and redirects it to protecting government illegal activity.

    The solution isn't to expect cops not to use information that comes into their hand via less than perfectly legal means. That goes against human nature.

    The solution is to make sure goverment isn't in possession of this information in the first place.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?