Monday, May 06, 2013

One more time: Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

The real capabilities and behavior of the US surveillance state are almost entirely unknown to the American public because, like most things of significance done by the US government, it operates behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy. But a seemingly spontaneous admission this week by a former FBI counterterrorism agent provides a rather startling acknowledgment of just how vast and invasive these surveillance activities are.
Over the past couple days, cable news tabloid shows such as CNN's Out Front with Erin Burnett have been excitingly focused on the possible involvement in the Boston Marathon attack of Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old American widow of the deceased suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. As part of their relentless stream of leaks uncritically disseminated by our Adversarial Press Corps, anonymous government officials are claimingthat they are now focused on telephone calls between Russell and Tsarnaev that took place both before and after the attack to determine if she had prior knowledge of the plot or participated in any way.
On Wednesday night, Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone conversations between the two. He quite clearly insisted that they could:
BURNETT: Tim, is there any way, obviously, there is a voice mail they can try to get the phone companies to give that up at this point. It's not a voice mail. It's just a conversation. There's no way they actually can find out what happened, right, unless she tells them?
CLEMENTE: "No, there is a way. We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her. We certainly can find that out.
BURNETT: "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.
CLEMENTE: "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."
"All of that stuff" - meaning every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant - "is being captured as we speak".


  1. Cops have been doing that with illegal wiretaps for years. Can't use what you hear as evidence, but you might hear something that leads you to some evidence.

  2. ".. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court.."

    is the critical part of that sentence. An admission that the FBI is breaking the damn law.

  3. Scary shit indeed. I must have been treated like a mushroom when a federal agent for 32 years; they kept me in the dark and fed me a ton of bullshit, if those claims are true because I never once was privy to any of that even when working in an anti-terrorist unit.

    As for cops doing illegal wire taps to get evidence, that is not quite right because any evidence they get, against the tapped parties, would be illegal. Fruits of the tainted tree crap and all that. Yes, they could tap your phone and get evidence or clues that point to Dick Hurtz (who was not involved in the call) then watch him and scoop him up based on other evidence they develop independent of the tapped calls. That in fact would be legally used against him because they never violated his rights listening to someone else's calls illegally.

    The original tap, if illegal, would still be a criminal act by the police and believe me, 90-95% plus of them don't want to lose their pensions so they don't do shit liken that. The other 5-10% are scum in one way or another.


Play nice.