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NEW YORK - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is using secret surveillance tactics - including wiretaps and examining telephone records - to make arrests while concealing the source of the evidence from judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, according to a story published today by Reuters. In cases where this intelligence is used to make an arrest, the DEA trains law enforcement to recreate the investigative trail in order to conceal the origins of the evidence.
"The DEA is violating our fundamental right to a fair trial," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project. "When someone is accused of a crime, the Constitution guarantees the right to examine the government's evidence, including its sources, and confront the witnesses against them. Our due process rights are at risk when our federal government hides and distorts the sources of evidence used as the basis for arrests and prosecutions."
"When law enforcement agents and prosecutors conceal the role of intelligence surveillance in criminal investigations, they violate the constitutional rights of the accused and insulate controversial intelligence programs from judicial review," said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. "Effectively, these intelligence programs are placed beyond the reach of the Constitution, where they develop and expand without any court ever weighing in on their lawfulness. This is inappropriate, dangerous, and contrary to the rule of law."