The Huffington Post reports in this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/05/dea-surveillance-cover-up_n_3706207.html?ir=Politics&utm_campaign=080513&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-politics&utm_content=Title that the DEA has a Special Operations Division (SOD) that collects tons of information into a database of roughly one billion items to establish and share tips and evidence among other agencies, including the NSA. Read the article to get all the details because on summary on my part will not do it justice.
One of the things the article discusses is the creation of “parallel construction.” According to the article,
“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.
Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.
Burying the source of evidence means that defendants may not be able to investigate its veracity. If the source is an informant, a defendant cannot delve into the motivation of the informant. I can tell you that from the standpoint of someone working on the defense side of things this can be a real problem.
There are many days when I wish I could access phone records with just a few key strokes. However, I can get something through public records, a witness volunteering information or the issuance of a subpoena, I can’t violate someone’s rights and when you score that tidbit of information that has meaning in a case you get a tremendous sense of accomplishment.