The FBI isn't the only U.S. secret police agency to have a case of NSA envy. It's also not the only one getting lazy, preferring rights eroding technology and rubber stamp approval processes rather than good law abiding police work.
According to information obtained published on Thursday, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conducted 11,681 electronic intercepts in 2014, up from 3,394 in 2005.
The sharp increase is thanks to agents increasingly going to state judges for warrants, bypassing the more rigorous federal procedure.
Its the latest example of a worrying trend of secret police forces taking short cuts rather than adhering to the law.
The trend is particularly concerning as remote access malware, whereby law enforcement can take complete control of a suspect's mobile phone or computer, makes its way into the DEA's tool kit.
Such tools give agents unprecedented power while using even more sneaky legal loopholes to avoid proper judicial oversight.
The use of state courts on paper should be just as stringent as federal court because state wiretap laws “must include all of the safeguards federal law requires,” yet in practice state courts are far easier. This is because federal law requires approval from a senior Justice Department official before agents can approach a federal court judge for permission to conduct one.
State law imposes no such restriction on state court wiretaps, which means it is far easier to obtain.
The DEA, along with the FBI, makes this even easier by keeping a list of judge's who are fine with abusive wiretaps and only approaching these friendly judges.
The effect is a rubber stamp approval process, allowing agents to wiretap at will.
What's clear from the revelations is that agents are becoming lazier and disrespecting the law. What may be viewed as 'red tape' for a regular field agent is designed precisely to slow their progress and make sure the invasive level of access they require is truly warranted and legally justifiable.
Without this check, our secret police forces will be able to run amok, wiretapping whoever they wish. That's not consistent with our constitution and fundamentally changes our hard won rights and freedoms.