All telephone calls recorded and accessible to the U.S. government

Glenn Greenwald writes: 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 claiming that 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: [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “All telephone calls recorded and accessible to the U.S. government

  1. Mustafa N.

    Oh my goodness what a boring job that would be to have to listen in to Americans’ phone calls. One thing that saves us from the Orwellian super state is that almost everything we say is pointless, so trying to keep track of it all would cause the whole complex to go BWOING!!! at some point.

  2. Paul Woodward

    Data collection is one thing — listening is another. As William Binney says, “from that data, then they can target anyone they want.” But that doesn’t imply there is any (or much) ongoing universal analysis of all communications. The storage itself is a huge infringement of civil liberties but this hasn’t quite risen to the level of a state in which the secret police are eavesdropping on everyone

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