Article by FLN Staff.

In a Morpheus moment from the Matrix, what if I told you that the federal government has used its’ electronic surveillance capabilities to compile evidence against American citizens? Capabilities that were acquired under the auspices of catching foreign terrorists without Constitutional protections, now being used to prosecute the Drug Enforcement Agency’s War on Drugs against Americans? You would probably answer that from the passage of the Patriot Act, all the way through the National Security Agency/Wikileaks scandals, you were afraid of the United States becoming a surveillance state, not subject to the limitations of the Constitution. You’d be right.

The term for this practice is “parallel construction”. Because of the secretive data collection means used by DEA, they have concealed the origins of their evidence from not only defense attorneys, but even prosecutors and judges as well. This empowers the government to construct a parallel chain of evidence, immune from challenge or exclusion for illegal gathering. This means that government may use the ill-gotten information against defendants, disregarding precedents relating to rights to privacy and feast off the fruit of the forbidden tree. This practice completely ignores judicial interpretations of the fourth and fifth amendments going back decades.

The DEA is taking advantage of the infrastructure of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has support in Congress for permanent reauthorization, without having safeguards put in place. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) vowed to filibuster this, as he is aware of its abuse by federal law enforcement. Unless these abuses come to light, they shall continue with impunity, as they become normalized as an accepted practice of law enforcement.

Further Reading can be found at Reason, A.C.L.U. and Reuters.