SEATTLE, Washington. For Immediate Release. By Cody Salfen. For over six years, through a newly uncovered anti-drug-effort spearheaded by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), federal law enforcement agents have turned to a streamlined data-mining program in quickly and efficiently carrying out the accessing and mining of mobile phone records/cell phone records pursuant to criminal investigations and related criminal subpoenas.
As originally reported by ABC News and the New York Times, the project dubbed “Project Hemisphere,” is funded by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the (US) Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to the earlier reports, the feds pay the salaries of up to four private-sector-employees (AT&T employees). These AT&T employees are strategically located within at least three federal offices throughout the country in order to facilitate expedited furnishing of cell phone records and mobile phone records to federal authorities pursuant to federal criminal subpoenas.
According to the Associated Press, an anonymous Obama Administration employee (not authorized to discuss the program) told an AP reporter the AT&T employees are located in “High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area” offices (also known as “HIDTA”) throughout the country, including HIDTA offices in Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles. As opposed to traditional subpoena procedures (which could result in days, weeks, months, or even years lapsing before records were produced pursuant to a criminal subpoena), the feds defend the program as providing an expedited procedure by which federal investigators can quickly obtain records they claim are essential in adequately investigating large scale narcotics operations in a climate that could otherwise result in missed investigative opportunities and/or instances where records are deleted or purged by the time the subpoena is processed. On the other side of the issue are those raising various privacy-rights related issues and questions regarding the co-mingling of the public and private sectors. For more information regarding the Project Hemisphere program and the cell phone data mining associated with the program, see the full text of the article below.
SEATTLE — For at least six years, federal drug and other agents have had near-immediate access to billions of phone call records dating back decades in a collaboration with AT&T that officials have taken pains to keep secret, newly released documents show.
The program, previously reported by ABC News and The New York Times, is called the Hemisphere Project. It’s paid for by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and it allows investigators armed with subpoenas to quickly mine the company’s vast database to help track down drug traffickers or other suspects who switch cellphones to avoid detection.
The details of the Hemisphere Project come amid a national debate about the federal government’s access to phone records, particularly the bulk collection of phone records for national security purposes. Hemisphere, however, takes a different approach from that of the National Security Agency, which maintains a database of call records handed over by phone companies as authorized by the USA Patriot Act.
“Subpoenaing drug dealers’ phone records is a bread-and-butter tactic in the course of criminal investigations,” Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in an email. “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 Associated Press independently obtained a series of slides detailing Hemisphere. They show the database includes not just records of AT&T customers, but of any call that passes through an AT&T switch.
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.
By Cody Salfen. Cody Salfen is a licensed private investigator in San Francisco, California and currently owns an operates Cody S Investigations (www.CodySInvestigations.com) – A California Private Investigation and Private Detective Agency. Cody S Investigations provides a wide array of private investigation services, which includes mobile phone forensics / cell phone forensic investigations, computer data forensics (forensic computer investigations), forensic hard-drive-analysis related investigations and services, and various other technology related investigation services.
Visit the Cody S Investigations website at www.CodySInvestigations.com or www.CodyPI.com. Alternatively, to speak with a member of the Cody S Investigations private investigation staff, you can call the Cody S Investigations San Francisco private detective staff at 415.932.9278 or 408.313.0109. Cody S Investigations provides a wide array of private investigation services in San Francisco, the surrounding areas, and investigative services throughout the State of California. Cody Salfen is a member of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, the Professional Investigators Association of California, the California Defense Investigators Association, the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, and the World Association of Detectives. In addition, Cody founded and operates Cody S & Associates, Inc. (www.CSI-Legal-Services.com) a security training, firearms training, security consulting, and CA Dept. of Justice and FBI approved Live Scan Fingerprinting Services.
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