In September, with little fanfare, the NY Times broke a story that revealed that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been spying on American citizens in an NSA-style program.
The program is known as the Hemisphere Project (Link 1). This is one of many disturbing government spying programs run by the DEA since it was created under Richard Nixon in 1973.
According to The New York Times (Link 2), The Hemisphere Project is older and broader than most government data mining and surveillance programs. It began in 2007. The New York Times Synopsis explains that the project primarily focuses upon storing Call Detail Records (CDRs) “for any telephone carrier that uses an AT&T switch to process a telephone call.” It is difficult to quantify the amount of personal information that the DEA has stored and misused under this program, although the Synopsis makes an effort to do so.
The multitude of revelations of mass-impingement upon the 4th Amendment is troubling in itself and, perhaps, more troubling in that it raised few eyebrows. The DEA has, since its inception, trampled on the rights of American citizens in the name of winning the misguided War on Drugs. However, since September 11th , the DEA has clearly utilized the public’s fear of terrorism to further trample upon the rights of American citizens. It is unclear how much damage this program and similar programs have done or will do to the American public and to the individuals who have been targeted. However, it is clear that more harm will be done so long as the public ignores government intrusion into the right be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and so long as technology continues to make doing so that much easier.