Information concerning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) controversial program that directs tips to federal agents and then instructs them to "recreate" the investigative trail was reportedly published in an IRS manual that was used by the tax agency for two years.
A slide from a presentation about a secretive information-sharing program run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division (SOD) is seen in this undated photo. REUTERS/John Shiffman
The practice of recreating the investigative trail, highly criticized by former prosecutors and defense lawyers after Reuters reported it this week, is now under review by the Justice Department. Two high-profile Republicans have also raised questions about the procedure.
A 350-word entry in the Internal Revenue Manual instructed agents of the U.S. tax agency to omit any reference to tips supplied by the DEA's Special Operations Division, especially from affidavits, court proceedings or investigative files. The entry was published and posted online in 2005 and 2006, and was removed in early 2007. The IRS is among two dozen arms of the government working with the Special Operations Division, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
An IRS spokesman had no comment on the entry or on why it was removed from the manual. Reuters recovered the previous editions from the archives of the Westlaw legal database, which is owned by Thomson Reuters Corp, the parent of this news agency.
As Reuters reported Monday, the Special Operations Division of the DEA funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans. The DEA phone database is distinct from a NSA database disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The DEA has defended the controversial practice as legal and acknowledged it has been in use practically on a daily basis since the 1990s.
Some members of Congress have been highly critical of the program.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who is also a former FBI agent, said it is "just wrong" if federal agents are "recreating a trail" in their investigations.
"[W]e're going to have to do something about it," he said on Mike Huckabee's radio show. "We're working with the DEA and intelligence organizations to try to find out exactly what that story is."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voiced similar concerns, saying "If the Constitution still has any sway, a government that is constantly overreaching on security while completely neglecting liberty is in grave violation of our founding doctrine."