U.S. directs federal agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans

A sign with a DEA badge marks the entrance to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Arlington. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS)

The US government trains federal agents how to falsify the sources of surveillance data that the Drug Enforcement Administration gives them, according to a Reuters special report.

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

A DEA official said, "Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day. It's decades old, a bedrock concept."

Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association, calls the practice "outrageous" and "indefensible."