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Drug Enforcement Administration secretly spying on millions of cars: report

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Traffic jam cars (Shutterstock)

The Justice Department has been secretly gathering and storing hundreds of millions of records about motorists in an effort to build a national database that tracks the movement of vehicles across the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The newspaper said the main aim of the license plate tracking program run by the Drug Enforcement Administration was to seize automobiles, money and other assets to fight drug trafficking, according to one government document.

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But the use of the database had expanded to include hunting for vehicles linked to other possible crimes, including kidnapping, killings and rape suspects, the paper said, citing current and former officials and government documents.

While U.S. officials have said they track vehicles near the Mexican border to combat drug cartels, it had not been previously revealed the DEA had been working to expand the database “throughout the United States,” the Journal said, citing an email.

It said many state and local law enforcement agencies were using the database for a variety of investigations, the paper said.

It added it was unclear if any court oversaw or approved the program.

The Journal quoted Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as saying the use of license plate readers “raises significant privacy concerns.”

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A spokesman for the Justice Department, which oversees the DEA, told the paper the program complied with federal law. “It is not new that the DEA uses the license-plate reader program to arrest criminals and stop the flow of drugs in areas of high trafficking intensity,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.

(Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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‘Last chapter in The Godfather’: Watergate prosecutor tears into Trump’s ‘continuing coverup’ of his associates’ Russia misdeeds

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On CNN Wednesday, former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Nick Akerman tore into outgoing President Donald Trump for his pardon of ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — and warned that a larger coverup is looming.

"I think you have to look at the big picture here," said Akerman. "The big picture is that this is part of the continuing coverup of Donald Trump's efforts to conceal what happened between his campaign in 2016 with the Russian government. It started with Jim Comey, his firing because he refused to basically give an oath of loyalty to Donald Trump. It continued when Robert Mueller was appointed, the continuing threats of firing Mueller and his staff. It continued with Roger Stone, who was — his sentence was commuted."

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Conservative Charlie Sykes tells Trump if he wants a pardon — he’ll have to admit he’s guilty first

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Editor and creator of The Bulwark, Charlie Sykes, told MSNBC's Joy Reid that the most "Trumpy" of things President Donald Trump could do is pardon himself ahead of leaving office in January.

After the president pardoned ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, it sparked new anticipation on how Trump will protect himself from prosecution after leaving office. Trump was alleged to have committed at least ten acts of obstruction of justice by special counsel Robert Mueller. In that case, the Justice Department followed the internal rule that sitting presidents could not be indicted. Then, it stands to reason that the Justice Department would also follow a 1974 memo from the same Office of Legal Counsel that said a president could not pardon himself.

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‘It’s pathetic’: John Avlon slams Trump’s ‘delusional’ fantasy that he’s winning by ‘a lot’

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On CNN Wednesday, fact-checked John Avlon tore into President Donald Trump for his "delusional" claim that he's the real winner of the election.

"Let's not normalize that lie, because it is delusional," said Avlon. "It's the political equivalent of someone standing outside and saying that the sky is green, that the moon is made out of cheese and they're Napoleon. It's pathetic. It shows a fundamental disrespect for fact and reality, and frankly, his supporters as well. It's a symptom of an unwell person."

"We should not normalize it because it's just Trump lying trying to overturn the election as he wants to do. No, he's delusional," added Avlon. "People who follow him are being sucked into a vortex by someone who is struggling with his own soul."

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