The DEA, AT&T and the Hemisphere Project

The New York Times reports on the Hemisphere Project, a program in which the DEA HIDTAs have been paying AT&T for phone records for 26 years.

The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987.


Hemisphere covers every call that passes through an AT&T switch — not just those made by AT&T customers — and includes calls dating back 26 years, according to Hemisphere training slides bearing the logo of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Some four billion call records are added to the database every day.

...Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers.

Here are the slides. NPR has more here.

Agents are told that when they obtain information through a Hemisphere program subpoena, they should "wall off" the program by filing a duplicative subpoena directly to target's phone company or by simply writing that the information was obtained through an AT&T subpoena.

Today an Obama Administration official confirmed there are AT&T employees embedded in three HIDTA offices:

The federal government pays the salaries of four AT&T employees who work in three federal anti-drug offices around the country to expedite subpoena requests, an Obama administration official told the AP on Monday. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he or she was not authorized to discuss the program, and said that two of the AT&T employees are based at the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area office in Atlanta, one at the HIDTA office in Houston, and one at the office in Los Angeles.

According to officials, it makes the process easier:

"The records are maintained at all times by the phone company, not the government. This program simply streamlines the process of serving the subpoena to the phone company so law enforcement can quickly keep up with drug dealers when they switch phone numbers to try to avoid detection."

The DEA is like a rabid dog with its incessant creation of databases, information sharing and electronic surveillance programs. Congress needs to rein in its budget -- as well as funding for the ONDCP and HIDTA grants.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Congress needs to disband the whole thing (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 10:46:59 AM EST
    What a worthless organization. And since its already devolved into the scumbag crew it is, cutting its budget, I fear, wouldn't do enough. Cut its budget ENTIRELY, now that's something I could get behind. Thanks for this post, J.

    I should add... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 01:42:40 PM EST
    ...that my sweet and hardworking and loyal little brother, a decade younger than me, is now working for the NSA. As almost everyone non-secretarial there, he's basically a spy. I have no respect for it, not in the least, so our conversations, few and far between to start with, are devoid of so much they hardly even seem to exist.

    Every fam... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:11:36 PM EST
    has a blacksheep, but damn I'm hard-pressed to think of a sheepier blacksheep than a spook in the family.  That must be weird D.

    i love the kid (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:27:45 PM EST
    we have a very long and tortured history together, all of the real torture unknown to him as he was too young to "remember" it. so no matter how much i want to kidnap and deprogram the military intelligence part of him, i understand his personality like no one else, literally, because i was the only person there to see that personality beaten into him by his old man, who is thankfully now dead. still, i just wish he'd quit. instead, he is traveling the world, doing phuck knows what for that a-hole agency.

    whatcha gonna do? family, baby. like you said.

    but i liked it better when he was just a regular soldier/officer in the marines, if 'like' is the right word for having your brother in Irag/Afgh harm's way for seven years. but the nsa, jaysus, it can blow me.


    On the brightside... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:43:27 PM EST
    at least he's probably pulling down some decent bank now, as opposed to that pittance they pay the Marines on the ground.  Maybe he can work his way up to Booz Allen or another contractor and really cash in!!

    He owns a house in... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:03:04 PM EST
    ...Chevy Chase, Maryland. That's all I need to know. In a few different ways. Yuk yuk.

    I just wish (none / 0) (#8)
    by Zorba on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:13:48 PM EST
    that I could afford to live in Chevy Chase.  Not that I would actually live there, because I love our farm.  But I'd sure like to have the income that most Chevy Chase residents do.

    The median income for a household in the town was $160,331, and the median income for a family was $167,790.



    Yep (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:18:25 PM EST
    I know he got a good deal on the place during the crash, but still...

    Fascism... (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 02:17:11 PM EST
    the merger of government and corporate power.  

    Imagine showing up for work one day at your private sector corporation job and being informed by your supervisor that you've been transferred to the DEA. F*ckin' crazy...it's almost like a drug war draft.


    It IS a drug war draft (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Dadler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 03:25:59 PM EST
    2013 style.

    "It's up to you.... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:27:51 AM EST
    "It's up to you not to heed the call-up,
    and you must not act the way you were brought up.
    Who knows the reasons why you have grown up?
    Who knows the plans and why they were drawn up?  
    It's up to you not to heed the call-up
    I don't wanna die!"

    - The Clash

    I don't wanna spy!


    Know your rights (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 10:52:00 AM EST
    Sadly, those rights don't seem worth much anymore, cuz they're disappearing daily.

    As I like to say, phuck the roof and raise the floor.

    Peace out, my man.