Did the DEA 'phony up' criminal investigations of Americans?

The Drug Enforcement Agency has been collecting information from intercepts, informants and wiretaps, among other methods, in an effort to launch investigations - primarily of a drug nature - into Americans for years, Reuters reports.

The covert DEA program, dubbed the Special Operations Division, has collaborated with several law enforcement and government agencies since 1994 in an effort to get ahead of criminals to apprehend and prosecute them.

According to the Reuters report, they did so, in concert with such agencies as the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security, by "recreating" an investigative trail. In doing so, the efforts in some way covered up where information leading to an arrest came from.

It's a practice one former federal judge told Reuters she's never heard of before.

"It sounds like they are phonying up investigation," Harvard Law School professor Nancy Gertner told Reuters.

The DEA would not comment on the record to Reuters on the program. The revelation comes at a sensitive time in the conversation about national security and surveillance, especially in the wake of NSA leaker Edward Snowdens' revelations about the government's monitoring of the Internet and personal communication.

On Friday, the Guardian, citing Snowden, made its most recent revelation: that the NSA had access to a platform called XKeyscore, which afforded analysts the ability to access the personal email and chat history of millions of Americans.