Snowden, a hero or a traitor? That is up for argument, and has split the nation into those who believe in freedom and liberty, and those who are willing to trade it all for the illusion of security. Whichever camp you fall in, the "Snowden Effect" continues to reverberate through the many quasi-police forces that keep Americans in line. Fresh evidence about how the NSA is supplying its surveillance data to agencies, such as the DEA, in order to aid in domestic criminal prosecution has come to the surface. The idea, and the defense, that NSA's spying activities only impacts non-United States citizens and terrorists, is now utterly debunked as a lie.
The NSA is one of a number of member agencies of a DEA unit called the Special Operations Division (SOD). The SOD, according to Reuters, is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch [and win] criminal investigations of United States citizens".
What this means is that there direct connection between the NSA, its surveillance efforts, and the criminal prosecution of normal (ie. non-terrorists) American citizens in the United States.
The DEA covers the tracks of its information by using “parallel construction,” which is basically making up a whole new story (a lie) about where information came from. Reuters notes that a judge was told that a tip kicked off the investigation, but after pressing for more information the DEA admitted that the data had in fact been first captured by the NSA, and distributed by the SOD.
By creating new past, or story, for received data, the DEA can avoid potentially awkward questions about the legality of its evidence, which of course would get thrown out of court. So much for a fair trial, laws or the Constitution for that matter.
This illegal data sharing is only going to get worse. According to the New York Times, other agencies inside the Federal government are starting to demand the information that the NSA has collected, and continues to collect.
One the leading arguments from members of Congress, the Administraion and the NSA itself is that this program is is overseen by Congress. That the NSA hasn't gone rogue. However, it was recently reported that members of Congress are being denied access to information about the NSA’s activities, both by having requests ignored, or simply denied. Glenn Greenwald, at The Guardian, has direct evidence of letters sent by members of Congress asking for specific information.
Other Members of Congress have reported similar issues through social media, including Rep. Justin Amash, who tweeted that access to requested information was provided during a small widow, just a few hours. Many Representatives missed opportunity to see the document, but were not allowed to obtain the information from those who had already seen the document.
The NSA and its allies are working hard to keep its activities secret, and out of the public spotlight. To a point, that may seem reasonable, given that such agencies are clandestine by nature. However, when Congress, tasked by law with overseeing the American intelligence operations, is lied to, denied information, and then provided only select facts for limited periods of time, something is very wrong. Adding the illegal evidence used to prosecute alleged criminals in the USA...denying their right to a fair trial, we’ve never needed greater controls and oversight over the NSA. Rep. Amash had it right. Strip them of their powers and give back to them only what is needed and constitutional.