PUBLISHED: 15:12 EST, 8 August 2013 | UPDATED: 15:15 EST, 8 August 2013
An outdated version of a manual distributed to Internal Revenue Service agents showed them how to hide the origin of intelligence on taxpayers that came from a secretive database built by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The DEA program, operated by its clandestine Special Operations Division (SOD), includes information collected by the National Security Agency. It made front-page news on Monday when Reuters reported that it funnels intelligence including overseas intercepts, domestic wiretaps and statements from informants to other law enforcement agencies, which use the material to build criminal cases against Americans.
One controversial element of the program involves the government’s use of ‘parallel construction’ techniques to recreate criminal investigations without disclosing that the NEA’s Special Operations Division provided its launching point.
The IRS’s employee manual, Reuters reported Thursday, included from 2005 to 2007 a 350-word entry telling agents to bury references to tips from the DEA’s program.
Only in America: That not-so-friendly IRS audit notice may be the product of a tip from the DEA, whose information includes top-secret NSA intercepts
The DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD) runs a secretive information-sharing program whose output is routinely concealed by other law enforcement agencies. Reuters redacted this image for what it said were ‘security reasons’
DEA regularly works with U.S. Border Patrol agents to build large-scale narcotics cases, but it wasn’t widely known until this week that federal drug enforcers also provide secretly-sourced intelligence to the IRS and other agencies
The instructions specifically described ‘affidavits, court proceedings [and] investigative files’ as off-limits for any references to DEA-supplied information.
DEA officials have insisted that the techniques are required to protect their sources, and their purpose is not the withholding of evidence.
‘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,’ the IRS manual read until the agency withdrew it from an online location in 2007.
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When the document was first published in 2005, it noted that the U.S. Justice Department ‘closely guards the information provided by SOD with strict oversight,’ and restricted its information to drug-investigation purposes.
But DEA officials told Reuters that the SOD’s role was more recently expanded to include investigations into organized crime and money laundering.
The DEA’s program encourgaes the use of ‘parallel construction’ techniques, which extend far beyond intelligence gathering. Its use, legal experts say, raises fundamental questions about whether the government is concealing information used to investigate and help build criminal cases against Americans
The manual instructed IRS agents to use tips from the DEA to find new, ‘independent’ evidence against criminal targets.
‘Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information,’ the manual read.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and other Republicans have been investigating the IRS for months, and the new revelations could provide new fuel to that fire
‘Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation.’
Neither the DEA nor the IRS would talk to Reuters about the controversial technique. MailOnline contacted both agencies with questions but received no reply.
Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, criticized the ‘parallel construction’ program during an appearance on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s talk radio program.
‘If they’re recreating a trail, that’s wrong and we’re going to have to do something about it,’ Rogers, a former FBI agent, said.
‘We’re working with the DEA and intelligence organizations to try to find out exactly what that story is.’
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded potential 2016 presidential candidate, told Reuters that he was concerned about DEA agents ‘trying to cover up a program that investigates Americans.’
‘National security is one of government’s most important functions,’ Paul said. ‘So is protecting individual liberty.
‘If the Constitution still has any sway, a government that is constantly overreaching on security while completely neglecting liberty is in grave violation of our founding doctrine.’
MailOnline reported Tuesday that the DEA program is also sending information to local police departments, helping them build petty drug cases against small-time narcotics dealers and other minor defendants.
Reuters explained that IRS agents are ‘under direct orders to not disclose’ that a DEA program was involved in the cases they build. Instead they provide a ‘plausible story that creates a new investigative trail’ which won’t lead ‘back to the secret source’
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