John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke
August 5, 2013
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.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to
“recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the
information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a
defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t
know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review
potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could
reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.