COLUMBIA, SC – Today, Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Jay Stamper criticized Senator Lindsey Graham for misleading the American people when he said that the National Security Agency’s surveillance of U.S. citizens is “limited to tracking people who are suspected to be terrorists.”
Reuters reported yesterday that the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Special Operations Division is “funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”
The DEA has used information obtained from NSA intercepts to start criminal investigations into U.S. citizens, and agents have systematically covered up the practice by fabricating evidence, according to Reuters. A DEA spokesman told Reuters that members of Congress “have been briefed over the years about SOD programs and successes,” including in a 2011 letter written to the Senate.
Stamper made the following statement in response to the Reuters story:
The report that the DEA has used NSA intercepts to criminally prosecute U.S. citizens proves false the claim by Senator Graham that surveillance of U.S. citizens is confined to individuals suspected to be terrorists, and it raises serious questions about Senator Graham’s credibility as well as his commitment to upholding the Constitution and protecting the fundamental rights of South Carolinians.
It is imperative that Congress investigate how widely NSA shares surveillance on U.S. citizens with domestic law enforcement and other government agencies. Congress must make these findings public, so that we as a country can accurately debate the merits of the government’s dragnet approach to surveillance.
Congress has a responsibility to protect Americans from harm and preserve our rights. If elected, I will put forth legislation to regulate the NSA’s data collection practices in order to ensure that the agency does not continue to operate in direct violation of the Constitution.
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