Cables show how foreign governments sought wiretapping help from the US DEA

(NY Times) Cables written in February by American diplomats in Paraguay, for  example, described the D.E.A.’s pushing back against requests from that  country’s government to help spy on an insurgent group, known as the  Paraguayan People’s Army, or the EPP, the initials of its name in  Spanish. The leftist group, suspected of having ties to the Colombian rebel group FARC had conducted several high-profile kidnappings and was making a small fortune in ransoms.

The D.E.A. faced even more intense pressure last year from Panama, whose right-leaning president, Ricardo Martinelli, demanded that the agency allow him to use its wiretapping program — known as Matador — to spy on leftist political enemies he believed were plotting to kill him.

Created in 1973, the D.E.A. has steadily built its international turf, an expansion primarily driven by the multinational nature of the drug trade, but also by forces within the agency seeking a larger mandate. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the agency’s leaders have cited what they describe as an expanding nexus between drugs and terrorism in further building its overseas presence.

In Afghanistan, for example, “DEA officials have become convinced that ‘no daylight’ exists between drug traffickers at the highest level and Taliban insurgents,” Karen Tandy, then the agency’s administrator, told European Union officials in a 2007 briefing, according to a cable from Brussels.

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