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The Perils of Parallel Construction

Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA intercepts huge amounts of electronic data warrantlessly without our permission. However, that is not the only way the surveillance state violates our rights. The NSA uses other underhanded schemes behind-the-scenes to exploit us. One of them is known as ‘parallel construction.’

Through this shady process, the NSA snoopers supply information to other government agencies. These agencies include other federal bureaucracies, and local and state government entities as well. The information is then rearranged to cover up the exact whereabouts of where it came from, thereby removing any evidence of malpractice for the courts. A more appropriate term to describe this process, coined by the EFF, is ‘information laundering.’

This insidious process operates primarily through a formerly secret DEA unit known as the Special Operations Division (SOD). As Exposed by Reuters last year, the SOD is involved in information sharing with state and local law enforcement. Almost none of this warrantlessly gathered data has anything to do with foreign intelligence or “terrorism.” It primarily involved run of the mill criminal investigations, mostly drug related. The SOD is exempt from any type of oversight from judges or prosecutors. This means the feds get free reign to use illegally-gathered information to fill our exploding prisons at an even faster rate.

After the SOD passes along this information, it then works with state and local law enforcement to “create” an investigation, working backward to obscure the origin of the information. For instance, the SOD will instruct the local police to obtain a warrant to collect information they already have via information sharing. It creates the illusion that the investigation and prosecution proceeded in a constitutionally permissible way

Former NSA technical chief turned whistleblower William Binney described the process of parallel construction as “the most threatening situation to our constitutional republic since the Civil War.”

You substitute the parallel constructed data in the courtroom, which I’ve called perjury. They’re lying to the courts and they’re subverting our entire judicial process.

OffNow legislation stops local and state government officials from participating in this incestuous network of rampant, unchecked criminality. By making it illegal for unconstitutionally-gathered information to be used in court proceedings, the NSA’s treasure trove of information becomes less dangerous to the residents of your state. Because of limited federal resources, this can go a long way toward curbing the effects of NSA spying.

By restoring the proper relationship between federal, local and state government, we limit the power of the NSA. The reason the NSA is participating in information-sharing agreements and other covert measures is because it cannot achieve its goals on its own. It needs our help, and we don’t have to give it to them.

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