New evidence US drug body spied on Bolivia, Venezuela

Monday, June 16, 2014

In a May 19 article on US government spying for The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras publish leaked documents that show the US government may have used the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to aid National Security Agency (NSA) spying on US citizens and non-citizens in foreign countries.

The leaked documents refer to “a vibrant two-way information sharing relationship” between the two intelligence agencies, implying that the DEA shares its information with the NSA to aid with non-drug-related spying.

This may explain how the NSA has gathered not just metadata but also the full audio from “virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas”.

The authors write: “The DEA has long been in a unique position to help the NSA gain backdoor access to foreign phone networks. 'DEA has close relationships with foreign government counterparts and vetted foreign partners,' the manager of the NSA’s drug-war efforts reported in a 2004 memo.

“Indeed, with more than 80 international offices, the DEA is one of the most widely deployed U.S. agencies around the globe. But what many foreign governments fail to realize is that U.S. drug agents don’t confine themselves to simply fighting narcotics traffickers.

“'DEA is actually one of the biggest spy operations there is,' says Finn Selander, a former DEA special agent who works with the drug-reform advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. 'Our mandate is not just drugs. We collect intelligence.'

“What’s more, Selander adds, the NSA has aided the DEA for years on surveillance operations. 'On our reports, there’s drug information and then there’s non-drug information,' he says. 'So countries let us in because they don’t view us, really, as a spy organization.'”

This is not the first time that the DEA has faced allegations of spying.

In 2005, then-Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez stopped cooperating with the DEA after accusing it of espionage in his country. At the time, a State Department spokesperson responded by saying, “the accusations that somehow the Drug Enforcement Agency is involved in espionage are baseless”.

Using arguments that would change very little over the next nine years, a State Department official said: “I think it’s pretty clear to us that the motivation for this is not the accusation itself or not what they state is the problem. The motivation is an effort to detract from the government’s increasingly deficient record of cooperation.”

Three years later, Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled the DEA from Bolivia, saying: “There were DEA agents who worked to conduct political espionage.” He also said: “We can control ourselves internally. We don’t need any spying from anybody.”

The State Department spokesperson said in response: “The charges that have been made are just patently absurd. We reject them categorically.”

Few of the press reports from 2005 or 2008 took these accusations seriously. But in 2008, Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot wrote: “To the Bolivians, the US is using the 'war on drugs' throughout Latin America mainly as an excuse to get boots on the ground, and establish ties with local military and police forces.”

To this list, we can now add access to national phone and communication networks, and storage of the content of phone calls.

[Abridged from CEPR.net.]

From GLW issue 1012

Comments

RENEGADE LAW ENFORCEMENT ON A CRUSADE.

RENEGADE LAW ENFORCEMENT ON A CRUSADE.

Who are these people that set themselves up like some Micro God demanding absolute blind obedience and total subjugation, deciding what is good for everyone. I object. The D.E.A.are a group of evil authoritarian sociopaths., Completely out of control and way over the top.We will not surrender our self disciplined choice to make our own decisions as to whatever we wish. It is time for this group's evil grip to be released from every free thinking person on this planet. At the very least, America's asinine drug policy's should be held in check at the U.S. border. The world is fed up with these equally asinine drug laws and especially the enforcement methods used to criminalize and subjugate everyone.This evil group of authoritarian sociopaths are not content with enforcing law they are making their own, I stand in objection. Please help to resist these evil people who have used law and order to seize power and make a mockery of our justice system..No longer content with enforcing laws, they have crossed the line and begun making up their their own as they go, and expect other government departments to support them. It is time for the reign of these evil authoritarian sociopaths to end., also the commandeering and misappropriation of state and Federal grants used to expand and support themselves. These sociopath villains are taking the bread crumbs from the needy and elderly to fuel their power base and imprison hundreds of thousands., in an obvious attempt to further subjugate a free spirited people. PLEASE HELP RESIST THEM. This robbing of public funds must stop.