Proponents of federal spying inevitably defend any objection to mass warrantless surveillance by playing the terrorism card.
The NSA must be able to sweep up virtually everybody’s electronic data to protect America from terrorist attacks, so the argument goes. This carries a great deal of weight, especially in the wake of tragic bombings in Paris and Brussels. Many Americans brush off the constitutional violations and invasion of privacy inherent in NSA spy programs because they honestly believe they only target terrorists.
But in fact, the vast majority of information dredged up by the U.S. spy apparatus ends up in the hands of state and local law enforcement for use in routine criminal investigations. Instead of “fighting terrorism,” the American surveillance state primarily serves as a way to circumvent the Fourth Amendment and prosecute the unconstitutional “War on Drugs.”
We’ve known for several years that a DEA Special Operations Division utilizes warrantless data collected by the NSA for routine drug investigations. Reuters revealed the extent of NSA data sharing with state and local law enforcement in an August 2013 article. According to documents obtained by the news agency, the NSA passes information to police through the SOD. These cases “rarely involve national security issues.”