Federal Agencies May Be Regularly Hiding Surveillance Methods in Criminal Cases

The U.S. government uses secret evidence to build criminal cases, according to a report released today by Human Rights Watch.

The report offers one of the most comprehensive looks yet at "parallel construction," a tactic where federal law enforcement hides classified or sensitive methods from courts by building a parallel chain of evidence after the fact.

The report shows that numerous federal law enforcement agencies send requests to local police to find reasons to perform traffic stops and searches on criminal suspects. Unless something goes wrong, defendants will never know the origins of the government's case against them.

Although it's difficult to find cases where parallel construction definitively occurred, the investigation "nevertheless indicates that this use of secret evidence may be occurring regularly in cases throughout the country—cases in which the person accused of an offense remains innocent until proven guilty and faces a potentially life-altering prison term."

The group notes that parallel construction raises several civil rights concerns, chiefly the right to a fair trial.

"When you have parallel construction, you have defendants and even judges who don't know how evidence was gathered and ..." (article continues at Reason.com http://reason.com/blog/2018/01/09/federal-agencies-may-be-regularly-hiding )