IRS is using NSA data now too. Who in town isn’t?

This is no longer an NSA data, or DEA data story. It’s a federal, state and local government data-trafficking story. Your Google-collected, Verizon-collected data seems to very broadly available. How broadly? Way more than you thought. Read on for the grizzly details.

We recently reported, along with others, on how the DEA has been getting data from the NSA to aid in their “war on drugs” — then getting prosecutors and cops (DEA and otherwise) to cover up the source of their tips to protect their ability to prosecute.

As bad as the original Snowden-Greenwald NSA story actually is — and if true, it’s very bad indeed — this is worse. After all, what’s the DEA (and half the cops and prosecutors in the country) doing with all that NSA data at their disposal?

Unlike others, though, we think the NSA-DEA connection as not just a point-to-point story — as in, NSA data–to–DEA database for drug cop use. It’s actually a many-points–to–many-points story, with the special unit within the DEA that keeps the data acting as a convenient one-stop collection place for both data sources and receivers.

The real DEA story, prior to the most recent revelation, is that the DEA acts as a clearinghouse for these data sources:

▪ NSA (including Google and Apple and friends)
▪ IRS (meaning all your financial data)
▪ Homeland Security
▪ At least 19 other agencies

And it passes the collected data to these receivers:

▪ “About 10,000” federal, state and local law enforcement agents
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends not on the list
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends’ non-cop friends

That’s what we used to think. Now we know more.

Now we know that one of the receivers of NSA (etc.) data is the IRS. (More on that below.) What this means is that, in all likelihood, all of the providers of DEA-collected data are also receivers of DEA-collected data.

Think I’m wrong? What are the odds?

What’s the real picture of data-trafficking at the DEA?

If I’m right, the real picture of data management by the DEA is thus more likely this:

Data sources

▪ NSA (again, Google and Apple)
▪ Homeland Security
▪ At least 19 other agencies

One central collection and distribution point

▪ The Special Operations Division (SOD) within the DEA
▪ DEA-maintained DICE database

Likely data receivers and users

▪ FBI?
▪ CIA?
▪ NSA?
▪ IRS (verified)
▪ Homeland Security?
▪ At least 19 other agencies?

Plus known recipients and “friends who have friends”:
▪ “About 10,000” federal, state and local law enforcement agents
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends not on the list
▪ All of their cop and prosecutor friends’ non-cop friends


Google seems to like these guys.
Wonder what they’re getting in return?

Again, this is not a DEA story, nor even just an NSA story. It’s a very broad data collection and dissemination story. We now know that the IRS can see what Google collects, if it’s passed to the DEA. Which means that the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security (and all of their friends, and many of their friends’ friends) probably have access to Google, Apple, Verizon data, if it gets into the DEA database as well. Is there IRS data in that database? We’ve been told that there is, and why wouldn’t there be? I can manufacture a justification just sitting here (hint: drugs and money laundering). Can the CIA, FBI and Homeland Security see the IRS data?

And who are those “19 other agencies” with a seat at the data-trafficking table? Anyone we should know about? The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, right? Does that mean anyone high enough in the DoJ can ask the FBI to query the database too?

How about those servants of business in the Dept of Commerce? Can they use the DICE database to get Google or IRS dirt on labor organizers and pass it to their friends at, say, Walmart — or to whatever other company the DC revolving door might land them at?

It’s time Reuters found out (or revealed) those 19 name, don’t you think?

Don’t forget the DC revolving door — take care of your friends and they’ll take care of you

And then there’s the corruption angle. The revolving door is a lifeline to the next overpaid job for almost all higher-up federal employees. If I were conscienceless, I’d use that DEA-collected data to make sure the revolving door treated me well. In fact, I’d use it to make sure the revolving door treated me very well.

Cabaret money

Money makes the world go around

After all, what better job application than to hand, say, McDonalds the online search and download preferences of their top 20 troublesome labor organizers — the behind-the-scenes people they can’t fire who are helping organize the low-wage people they can fire. Would that get you a spot on someone’s board of directors, or an office labeled “VP of Where Can We Golf?”

Could it get their corporate name (and donations) into your client list if you open your own “consulting” shop on Thank You Street (“K Street” to the rubes).

And that’s just the start of the corruption I can imagine. If I were political director for a conscienceless president, I’d make certain that certain reporters knew their habits were known. And I sure could chase a lot of pesky competition from a lot of state-wide no-name political races with a fistful of their google searches and private preferences.

Got more corrupt ideas than these? Post them in the comments. I’d love to see what the bright folks here — were they conscienceless — could come up with. I’ve also got a dozen ways to engage in personal vendettas running in my brain right now. The possibilities multiply themselves.

As I said, folks, this is not a DEA or NSA story. It’s a data-trafficking story. The only thing missing from the data collection are investment records (or is that where the IRS comes in?) and medical histories. With power like this, the world is the oyster of anyone who can get at it, and those who can — bet on it — are mainly corrupt. The least of their sins is being relentless careerist. If you want to find most of the predators, look where the prey — or everything known about them — is gathered.

Now the IRS story — Reuters says they’re using the NSA database too

Reuters says the IRS has had access to DEA database data for a while. And just like the DEA, the IRS is abusing their use of it by lying about the sources of their tips and leads. Here’s a good Common Dreams summary of the story from writer Jon Queally:

Et Tu, IRS? Tax Agency Also Using Secret Spy Data?
Reuters reports IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intel evidence

Following up on exclusive reporting from earlier this week about how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency uses NSA surveillance data and tips from a secretive unit called the Special Operations Divisions (SOD) to initiate investigations, Reuters on Thursday reveals that the Internal Revenue Service was aware of and may have also used these “unconstitutional” tactics.

What’s troubling in both cases, according to legal experts, is the manner in which the agencies hide the true source of an investigation’s starting point—never revealing the use of the highly classified sources involved—and then “recreate” a parallel investigation to justify criminal findings.

Additionally troubling is that the IRS and the DEA are only two of the more than twenty federal agencies that work in tandem with the SOD, leading to speculation that the practice of utilizing than hiding surveillance techniques that have not been properly documented or approved could be far-reaching.

From the Reuters story (a good click-through):

Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA’s use of hidden intelligence evidence

Details of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration program that feeds tips to federal agents and then instructs them to alter the investigative trail were published in a manual used by agents of the Internal Revenue Service for two years. …

A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA’s Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.

And from an IRS document Reuters dug up:

“Special Operations Division has the ability to collect, collate, analyze, evaluate, and disseminate information and intelligence derived from worldwide multi-agency sources, including classified projects.[…] SOD converts extremely sensitive information into usable leads and tips which are then passed to the field offices for real-time enforcement activity against major international drug trafficking organizations.”

Adds the writer of the Common Dreams story:

While the documents stipulates that such procedures should only be used for “drug trafficking” investigations, DEA agents told Reuters that the practice has now been used for “organized crime and drug trafficking.”

And that’s the problem, say critics, who note that surveillance operations like those developed by the NSA and the DEA are first said to only be used for counterterrorism, but then the public finds out they’re also being used for narcotics investigations. Next, new disclosures surface that criminal gangs are being targeted. Next, financial criminals. It appears a classic slippery slope.

Of course, they say they’re only involved in the program because they care deeply about drug trafficking. (Only they don’t.) Or financial crime. (Only they don’t.) Or something.

But we know better. We know by now they all just want access to All Data. We also know by now not to trust anything they say … don’t we? After all, if Obama can lie to Leno on national TV, why on god’s earth would any of them ever tell the truth? You’d have to be a whistle-blower to do that. And those people find the revolving door very tightly closed.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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