So the NSA has been tossing leads to the DEA. On it’s face, that’s a start down a slippery slope we don’t really want to be on. If Snowden had popped up with just that… but he didn’t.
There is lots of overlap between terrorism and drug trafficking. Drugs are how the Taliban financed themselves with our boy Osama right in there. The drug trade is very much wrapped up with terrorism. So the DEA should be sharing intel with the NSA and CIA and the Pentagon.
NSA and CIA have legitimate reasons to want to have access to DEA databases. I can guarantee that DEA turf-warriors won’t want to let them have it. Feeding them a lead here and there would be seen as reciprocity by DEA. So my bet is that NSA throwing a lead to DEA here and there is a quid-pro-quo to get the agencies to work together.
Regarding the Snowdenity of the DEA-NSA connection, we don’t know that NSA used the PRISM system to develop those leads
. It’s possible, but we don’t know. Even the Washington Post says so.
“In other words, we don’t know for sure if the DEA’s Special Operations Division is getting its tips from the same database that’s been the subject of multiple congressional hearings in recent months. We just know that a special outfit within DEA sometimes gets tips from the NSA.”
It is a reasonable inference that NSA leads to DEA would come from the PRISM system. But it’s not a slam-dunk. I find it hard to imagine that the top echelon of NSA who were responsible for approving those leads to DEA, would not have thought about the fact that those leads were on shaky ground. Remember, top brass at NSA are professional paranoids.
If it were me in that position, I would want the leads to come from agents in the field. I would see if I couldn’t get CIA to toss some stuff over the wall. CIA gets all kinds of human intelligence and works pretty closely with NSA.