Talk:Parallel construction

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This article is clearly pretty biased. First, terming it illegal before a court has ruled on it is silly. Second, the practice is much older than the NSA/SOD issue. What is really needed is some context. How does the SOD situation differ from what was done in the past? Has parallel construction ever been tested in a court? That is the quality of info I came here to find. I agree with your comments. The opening line of the article "Parallel construction is an illegal police process of creating a fake investigation history in order to cover up certain evidence's actual, but legally tainted, source" contains no proven or verifiable fact, only opinion and supposition. As far as anyone knows, this is a valid and legal way of investigating information based on an unreliable and unusable source. Until proven otherwise in a court of law, this article is in fact, a lie. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:46, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Could you please provide sources older than the NSA/SOD issue. It may be that this process has also been known by some other name. What name? As for legality in the US, see Fruit of the poisonous tree. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 02:15, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
"Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day," one official said. "It's decades old, a bedrock concept."
It is not illegal to use parallel construction. The judge will not accept evidence at a trial when the evidence is inadmissible (obtained illegally). They will throw out any such evidence even if there is a hint at the data being obtained illegally or without a warrant. It's used to protect sources / confidential informants / undercover agents in foreign countries etc. This isn't as big a deal as some sensationalist bloggers are making it out to be. talk § _Arsenic99_ 22:55, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
it isn't used to protect sources, it's used to cover up illegal evidence collecting techniques. There are legal systems to protect sources or confidential informants; this is not one of them. (talk) 06:08, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
Minor correction: it's not just used to cover up illegal evidence collecting techniques. It's used to cover up any evidence collection that law enforcement doesn't want the court (or the public) to know about. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:12, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

Original research in leadEdit

I've removed the recently added explanation as it was completely unsourced, but bringing it here for discussion per WP:PRESERVE

Parallel construction is an investigative technique of building two cases at the same time. The first case contains all information on the target of an investigation, including any evidence inadmissible in court. This first case is often considered a "file" on a person of interest, including every crime they have or are suspected of having committed. The second case is built using only court-admissible evidence and probable cause. No evidence is used that could possibly jeopardize the securing of a conviction, meaning that illegally-obtained evidence would not be used. This technique is used by law enforcement to ensure that investigators build cases with actual, solid evidence, so as to secure a conviction, instead of evidence that may be ruled inadmissible or cause a case to be thrown out.

-- Kendrick7talk 03:00, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Kashew's edits are equally OR as they are unsupported by the Reuters source:

Parallel construction is an investigative technique of trying to obtain evidence in a court-admissible manner after having incidentally established its existence via inadmissible means.[1] What this means is that if a law enforcement investigation receives court-inadmissible evidence, say from NSA surveillance, investigators will try to obtain that evidence via normal means. For example, if the NSA forwards a tip about a major drug trafficking operation involving US citizens, the DEA would have to find probable cause using normal, court-admissible techniques for warrants or arrests. Essentially, it is knowing the evidence beforehand and trying to find a legal, court-admissible way to obtain it.

I believe Kashew has misunderstood the source. According the the source the police don't actually obtain the evidence the second way, they just come up with an excuse for how they could have obtained the evidence the second way. Kendrick7's summary is much more accurate:

Parallel construction is a police process of falsifying evidence about a investigation history in order to cover up certain evidence's actual source.[1] The Special Operations Division (SOD) of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration advises DEA agents to practice parallel construction when creating criminal cases against Americans that are actually based on NSA warrantless surveillance.[

--Dr. Fleischman (talk) 04:54, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

That would be my own edits I put in there. I miswrote the section and rewrote it.

Kashew (talk) 07:16, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

Well it's still incorrect. Your new version says the police go out and get the evidence another way, but the source say the police actually lie about how they got the evidence in the first place. Kendrick7's version was correct. Any objection to a reversion? --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:15, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

It does say that, though. The existence of evidence or confirmation of a crime taking place is established incidentally by the NSA, who forwards the tip to the DEA, and then the DEA have to go and find normal means to obtain the evidence. That is exactly what the article says and is also one of the only clear facts in the article. The rest is speculation. Here's another source that frames it more clearly:

According to the document, IRS agents are directed to use the tips to find new, "independent" evidence: "Usable information regarding these leads must be developed from such independent sources as investigative files, subscriber and toll requests, physical surveillance, wire intercepts, and confidential source information. Information obtained from SOD in response to a search or query request cannot be used directly in any investigation (i.e. cannot be used in affidavits, court proceedings or maintained in investigative files)."

I'm going to add this to the article right now. Kashew (talk) 19:19, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

That article doesn't say they actually obtain the evidence using the independent sources. The quote says the usable information must be "developed" from the independent sources (whatever that means). But the article also says the police "omit any reference to "the SOD tip and then says agents "use a procedure they call 'parallel construction' to recreate the investigative trail, stating in affidavits or in court, for example, that an investigation began with a traffic infraction rather than an SOD tip." And then there's this source: "In interviews, at least a dozen current or former agents said they used 'parallel construction,' often by pretending that an investigation began with what appeared to be a routine traffic stop, when the true origin was actually a tip from SOD." That sounds much more like Kendrick7's version than yours. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:48, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
I believe "Parallel construction" – known by this or some other name – is a standard process in law enforcement around the world when leads or other information exists that the police do not want to make public or present in court. Not all uses need to be as sinister and illegal as those suggested by the Reuters articles. Fruit of the poisonous tree is a special feature of US law. The problem is that the Reuters articles do not cover those other "less illegal" cases. Here we have to speculate without proper sources. Still we need to keep the process per se distinct from the discussion of its legality in the United States. -- Petri Krohn (talk) 06:22, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Your version is no less WP:OR than Kashew's. "Two cases at the same time" - where does that come from? A first case, a second case? These are not in the cited source. Falsified probable cause - what does that even mean? "Only evidence that would not jeopardize the securing of a conviction is used in court" - where is that in the source? It appears you're imprinting your own beliefs and speculations on this article. Please stick with what the sources say. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 07:16, 13 August 2013 (UTC)


I don't know why these aren't being picked up by most newspapers, but here are some very notable sources:

  • Shiffman, John and Ingram, David (August 5, 2013). "U.S. to review DEA unit that hides use of intel in crime cases". Reuters.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Shiffman, John (August 5, 2013). "How DEA program differs from recent NSA revelations". Reuters.
  • Shiffman, John and Ingram, David (August 7, 2013). "Exclusive: IRS manual detailed DEA's use of hidden intel evidence". Reuters.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Ingram, David and Shiffman, John (August 8, 2013). "U.S. defense lawyers to seek access to DEA hidden intelligence evidence". Reuters.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

--Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:30, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

analogy with wartime code-crackingEdit

It might be worth mentioning British efforts to cover up successes in code-cracking by letting the Germans think information was obtained in some other way. (Not that I know anything about that.) —Tamfang (talk) 08:47, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

Good idea! I was surprised no one had done this yet. I have added a paragraph about this. Winged Cat (talk) 18:09, 4 June 2021 (UTC)

Reversion by

IP recently reverted three changes I made with the comment "restoring suspicious deletions." There was nothing suspicious with my changes, as I explained them with my edit summaries ("rm WP:SYNTH", "rm material unsupported by source", "rm see alsos - either already linked, or too far from subject"). Please address my concerns. "Suspiciousness" of an edit is not a valid basis for reversion. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 21:29, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

More sourcesEdit

I'm typing up my notes from ORGcon 2014, where Duncan Campbell made reference to this concept in a panel session on "Surveillance, whistleblowing and the media". Two sources I've come across that might be useful in expanding this article:

Hope this helps! — OwenBlacker (Talk) 00:56, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

"Example" (?) does not clarify meaningEdit

The third paragraph, along with being (apparently) poorly worded, does little to explain what the parallelism is that is supposedly going on. OK, I get the truck stop part; but what is the parallel to the truck stop -- is that a reference to whatever the actual source was that they really got the info from? Is the hit at the truck stop the second of the two activities (the "phony" parallel part)?

I hope that whoever edits that section will reword their own writing a bit. I also hope they will offer the two parallel instances or activities that this term of art refers to. And, please, no need to go back to the Greek or Phoenecian origins of the word roots, etc. Just an explanation of what it is that constitutes "parallel" in this scenario. Henryxmartin (talk) 04:09, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Agree. This content was added by Arsenic99, who hasn't edited since December. Maybe they will eventually login and respond. In the meantime I've tagged the problem in the meantime and may get around to fixing it one of these days. --Dr. Fleischman (talk) 16:33, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

Worldview bannerEdit

I have flagged this article as the topic is only adequately covered in relation to the US, and would invite editors to find content pertaining to other countries. --Willthewanderer (talk) 18:03, 2 May 2020 (UTC)