The twisted soldiers of the drug war (also known as the US Drug Enforcement Administration) have been caught pulling the old peeping tom routine on the American people, determined to kill their buzz. A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) indicates that Uncle Sam’s dope-sniffing cronies have been scanning license plates of average citizens into a program devised to, perhaps, predict an individual’s drug-related behaviors.
It is called the National License Plate Recognition Initiative, which is a spy solution put in place in 2008. It’s designed to read license plates and document daily habits. Although the concept may sound like an elaborate government conspiracy outlined in a Philip K. Dick novel, the ACLU asserts that this despicable breech of freedom is not science fiction, but an underhanded scam to monitor the undressing of America.
Not only does this devious technology compile a database of a person’s every movement, but it may also use certain criteria to raise red drug flags that have the potential to put innocent people under surveillance. However, in a press release the ACLU admits the ultimate power of this federal spyware is unknown because portions of the documentation it received through the Freedom of Information Act were altered.
“These records do, however, offer documentation that this program is a major DEA initiative that has the potential to track our movements around the country. With its jurisdiction and its finances, the federal government is uniquely positioned to create a centralized repository of all drivers’ movements across the country—and the DEA seems to be moving toward doing just that,” stated the ACLU.
The ACLU suggests the DEA has employed the use of license plate readers to study the travel behaviors along stretches of roads that are commonly used for drug trafficking, but again, it is difficult to determine where those resources are being implemented due to the lack of complete documentation. The belief is that these spy tactics are being used on every major highway and interstate in the nation. The assumption is, or at least it should be, that the DEA has eyes everywhere.
What we know is that the DEA has positioned at least 100 license plate readers in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. While it is suspected that this technology has been deployed in other states, the documentation is not clear enough to provide exact details.
In addition, law enforcement agencies across the nation, including Customs and Border Control, have been encouraged to contribute to the DEA’s database “at regular intervals.”
There were approximately 343 million records in the system at the time the ACLU received the documents, but it remains unclear how many of these hits have resulted in the arrest and prosecution for a major drug offense. And while the concept of the DEA using spy tools to catch American with their pants down is not at all a shocking revelation, it is unsettling to confirm that the federal government continues to finance weasel strategies to wage a losing war on the drug culture.
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