The letter from the Ohio Democrat and four other Democratic U.S. senators, sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asks if it’s true that federal law enforcement agencies have been creating phony “evidence trails” to hide the fact that the real source of the information is agencies that are supposed to target foreigners and terrorists.
“Reuters has reported that it has documents showing ‘that federal agents are trained to ‘recreate’ the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated,’” the letter states. “Additionally, the Houston Chronicle has reported that ‘The National Security Agency is handing the Justice Department information, derived from its secret electronic eavesdropping programs, about suspected criminal activity unrelated to terrorism.’”
Reports of the efforts to conceal the evidence trails, a process known as “parallel construction,” are troubling, the senators wrote.
“These reports indicate that potentially dozens of law enforcement agencies are fabricating trails of evidence used in federal courts. Evidence is critical to the legal process and fabricating its source could deny citizens the ability to properly defend themselves and jeopardize domestic law enforcement’s ability to prosecute criminals,” the letter states.
The letter posed several questions to Holder, including how often the intelligence community shares information with law enforcement agencies. Copies of the letter, addressed to Holder, were sent to James Clapper Jr., the national intelligence director, and to Michele Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
One of the five senators who signed the letter is Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat who originated the letter, said Yianni Varonis, a spokesman for Brown’s office.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumethal, who also signed the letter, is the former attorney general in Connecticut.
The other two signatories — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Tom Udall, D-N.M. — have attracted press attention for their stances on civil liberties issues.
Wyden, for example, was the senator who asked Clapper in a committee hearing whether the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”
Clapper answered, “No, sir.” His answer set off a firestorm when leaks revealed that the NSA does, in fact, collect telephone records on millions of Americans — possibly all Americans with a telephone.
Wyden was also the only Democrat who joined Republican Sen. Rand Paul during a 13-hour filibuster in which Paul demanded to know if President Obama believes he can use weaponized drones to kill Americans on American soil if the targeted person has no connection to terrorism.
The 14 other senators who helped Paul with his filibuster were all Republicans.