The immense surveillance powers of the U.S. government are not just aimed at foreign terrorists, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained on Monday night.

Maddow said that, at least politically, the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance operations seemed far more acceptable when they were being used to stop terrorists. Documents obtained by Reuters, however, indicate that is not entirely the case.

"What if the American people haven't much cared about or maybe have even approved of something the government was doing because we thought it was for fighting terrorism, but instead it's not?" she remarked. "Something everyone is a little squeamish about but basically OK with because it is supposedly only for use against bad guys in foreign countries? Turns out instead, it is being used by local American cops for regular old crime, for stuff done by Americans that has nothing to do with wacky religious ideology or anything else."

According to Reuters, the NSA has been providing information to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which in turn had used the data to disseminated tips to local law enforcement authorities. Those local authorities, meanwhile, were being trained to cover up the source of their tip and find a pretext to launch criminal investigations.

Reuters reporter John Shiffman told Maddow the practice could endanger defendants' right to a fair trial by hiding key evidence.

Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:

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