01.31.2018 0

What is parallel construction, and why is Special Counsel Mueller ok with it?

By Printus LeBlanc

It seems like every day there is a chorus of officials celebrating Special Counsel Robert Mueller. If you dare question his integrity, you are to be banished to the gulags. However, with a little bit of research you will find out his career as a law enforcement officer is filled with mistakes, mishaps, and questionable policies. Once such policy is the subject of a Human Rights Watch report titled Dark Side: Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases. The report details the practice of “parallel construction” in criminal investigations. What is parallel construction, why should every civil libertarian fear it, and what does this have to do with Robert Mueller?

Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique used to build a criminal case against a suspect when law enforcement does not want to reveal the evidentiary basis for the investigation. The data comes from the NSA, which transmits it to a special unit in the DEA called the Special Operations Division (SOD). Within the SOD are representatives of several other agencies including the FBI, CIA, and IRS who are given “tips” to carry out their investigations.

Let’s say local law enforcement receives a call from federal law enforcement about a specific vehicle at a specific time. The local police then follow the vehicle until it commits a minor traffic infraction, such as not a complete stop at a stop sign, not leaving a blinker on long enough when changing lanes, and even improperly tinted windows. The police can then say a minor traffic stop is how the investigation started when it was a tip from federal authorities.

Some federal agencies know they are violating the 4th Amendment and only seem to care about being caught. A DEA training manual was released after a FOIA request, and one particular page is disturbing. The DEA complains that the military and intelligence community do not have to adhere to the 4th Amendment stating, “Our friends in the military and intelligence community never have to prove anything to the general public. They can act upon classified information without ever divulging their sources or methods to anyone outside their community.” The bottom of the slide concludes with the motto, “to use it, we must protect it, or lose it.” A clear statement the DEA knows they are violating the 4th Amendment.

John Shiffman and David Ingram reported for Reuters on the IRS using SOD for criminal prosecution. The duo acquired an IRS training guide directing agents to use the SOD tips to find different evidence that can be brought to court stating, “Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information. Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation (i.e. cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings or maintained in investigative files).”

Robert Mueller seems to have a special place in his heart for this violation of the 4th Amendment. He spoke at a Georgetown University conference in 2014, and the topic of the constitutionality of parallel construction arose. Mueller stated, “You can acquire information as we do under the FISA statute for instance, but that does not mean it can be used for other purposes without perhaps other judges’ approval… [It] may not be admissible for a variety of reasons but that does not prevent us from acquiring it.” So, it seems the former Director of the FBI and current Special Counsel doesn’t care if the Constitution is shredded as long as he likes the outcome.

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It should be disturbing that Robert Mueller is ok with the phrase, “the ends justify the means.” It should be even more upsetting this allowed. It is time for elected officials to judge Mueller based on his actions, not on what you want him to be. While they are at it, they should take a look at the Constitution and remember the oath they took to protect it.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.

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