The US constitution is supposed to protect citizens from thug overreach. However, evidence from the past decade shows that thugs have been stomping all over our civil liberties daily by colluding with intelligence agencies. The federal government does this by constructing lies about how agents discover information. For example if the government discovers a crime through illegal mass surveillance or another covert surveillance program, it can’t use that evidence directly because that would violate the 4th amendment and expose Big Brother. Instead, “hints” are passed on to thugs so they can construct a “parallel” chain of evidence that can be used in court. This is where it gets the name parallel construction. Parallel construction sounds like innocuous jargon from an architecture course, so I prefer to call the practice by the more descriptive name, evidence laundering.
Evidence laundering prevents defendants in criminal cases from knowing about infringements of their rights. It makes challenging thugs’ actions in court very difficult, making a mockery of the right to a fair trial. The motivation for thugs to respect a defendant’s rights is that evidence obtained illegally cannot be used in court. With evidence laundering, the illegal evidence is converted into legal evidence. Therefore the motivation not to violate citizen’s rights goes away, so long as thugs can keep citizens from proving it occurred. Even if a defendant in a criminal trial suspects evidence laundering, it’s nigh impossible to prove. This puts minorities and political activists at risk of having their rights violated without even knowing it.
Moreover, evidence laundering undermines the civil liberties of every citizen. It is not a technique for enforcing the law. One cannot simultaneously subvert the law and enforce it. It’s just a tool for government-aided vigilantism. It will only continue to erode citizens’ constitutional rights as government surveillance programs expand. It must be outlawed.
Find more information about evidence laundering at hrw.org.