Using NSA spy data to go after…FCPA violators?

The implications are mind-boggling [Houston Chronicle/Connecticut Post via NACDL via Americans for Forfeiture Reform, earlier] On paper, NSA is supposed to turn over spy-collected data only if evidence of serious unrelated crime turns up while investigating terrorist threats or other specified matters. However, as Reuters shows in an important new investigation, in drug investigations (and probably other types as well) “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” Thus the common little white lie about how such-and-such was discovered “during a routine traffic stop,” when in fact the traffic stop was intended to intercept something or someone known by previous investigation to be aboard the vehicle. With the origins of investigation routinely “phonied up” in this way, however, it becomes virtually impossible to know how many handoffs of spy information fall into gray areas beyond the clear intent of the authorizing law. [Julian Sanchez, Cato] Our coverage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is here; earlier on surveillance here.

One Comment

  • This certainly brings up an obvious defense for anyone prosecuted by Federal authorities. “Your Honor, the Government is withholding possibly exculpatory evidence. The prosecutor / investigators are forbidden from being 100% truthful about where this investigation started and what evidence they claim to have. What ELSE are they being untruthful about?” etc etc etc…. I think this is reasonable doubt for a lot of drug and white collar crime prosecutions. How much, for example, was gleaned for Martha Stewart’s insider case? How about the recent indictment of SAC Capital? My goodness, I can hear the defense already……..