Local and State Police Involved in Sensitive Hemisphere Program

Via: The Declaration:

Federal, state, and local police, with the assistance of phone company employees embedded within DEA narcotics intelligence units, are utilizing an unclassified but “law enforcement sensitive” program, known as Hemisphere, which provides nearly unfettered access to an enormous database containing call records of all telephone calls passing through phone company switches likely owned by AT&T, according to a partially-redacted 24-slide presentation obtained by The Declaration.

The program is part of counterdrug operations within the Philadelphia-Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (PC-HIDTA), which encompasses Philadelphia, Delaware & Chester Counties as well as Camden County, NJ.

Hemisphere is funded by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as part of the administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area initiative, with AT&T receiving an undisclosed amount of federal dollars to add nearly five billion calls per day, nationwide, to the Hemisphere database, and to assist authorities in maintaining the program’s secrecy from an investigation’s launch up to and including actual trials.

Hemisphere differs from – and far exceeds in scope – the National Security Agency’s phone record collection program, called Section 215, as the NSA maintains its own database and stores records for just five years. The Hemisphere database stores call detail records (CDR) dating as far back as 1987.

It is not known whether other carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, have a similar arrangement with DEA to allow access to their call switches. What is clear: all calls from those carriers which pass through AT&T switches are immediately entered into the database.

Additionally, state and local investigators are required to perform what is called “parallel subpoenaing” – a keystone of the DEA’s recently revealed and legally problematic “parallel construction” policy involving its Special Operations Division – in order to “maintain the integrity” of Hemisphere.

With each request for call records submitted to Hemisphere analysts, investigators must also subpoena the call carrier after the Hemisphere records are obtained, thus “walling off” the program by creating a seemingly innocuous paper trail for investigators and any subsequent trial.


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