Former FBI Counterterrorism Agent: “All Digital Communications” and Phone Calls are Recorded

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In a CNN interview about the Boston Bombings investigations, a former FBI counterterrorism agent admitted a startling (yet unsurprising) fact: “all digital communications” are recorded and stored. All of them. All phone calls, all e-mails and all social media interactions. According to him, there is definitely a way of retracing and listening to any phone call made on US soil. While most Americans ignore or deny this reality, the shaping of the USA into a heavily monitored police state is complete. Here is part of the CNN interview.

The aftermath of the Boston Bombings caused the American police state to rear its ugly, repressive head. However, since U.S. citizens are still  traumatized from the bombings, they do not oppose it. From the imposition of martial law to the admission of illegal spying of U.S. citizens, “terrorism” is being used to justify illegal, invasive and unconstitutional actions by law enforcement.

Here’s a great article from The Guardian about the true extent of surveillance in the U.S.

Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?

A former FBI counterterrorism agent claims on CNN that this is the case

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:

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”.

On Thursday night, Clemente again appeared on CNN, this time with host Carol Costello, and she asked him about those remarks. He reiterated what he said the night before but added expressly that “all digital communications in the past” are recorded and stored:

Let’s repeat that last part: “no digital communication is secure”, by which he means not that any communication is susceptible to government interception as it happens (although that is true), but far beyond that: all digital communications – meaning telephone calls, emails, online chats and the like – are automatically recorded and stored and accessible to the government after the fact. To describe that is to define what a ubiquitous, limitless Surveillance State is.

There have been some previous indications that this is true. Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein revealed that AT&T and other telecoms had built a special network that allowed the National Security Agency full and unfettered access to data about the telephone calls and the content of email communications for all of their customers. Specifically, Klein explained “that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T” and that “contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists . . . much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic.” But his amazing revelations were mostly ignored and, when Congress retroactively immunized the nation’s telecom giants for their participation in the illegal Bush spying programs, Klein’s claims (by design) were prevented from being adjudicated in court.

That every single telephone call is recorded and stored would also explain this extraordinary revelation by the Washington Post in 2010:

Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.

It would also help explain the revelations of former NSA official William Binney, who resigned from the agency in protest over its systemic spying on the domestic communications of US citizens, that the US government has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens” (which counts only communications transactions and not financial and other transactions), and that “the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want.”

Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, there have been periodic reports of serious abuse. Two Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have been warning for years that Americans would be “stunned” to learn what the US government is doing in terms of secret surveillance.

tia logoStrangely, back in 2002 – when hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and thus acquiescence to government power) was at its peak – the Pentagon’s attempt to implement what it called the “Total Information Awareness” program (TIA) sparked so much public controversy that it had to be official scrapped. But it has been incrementally re-instituted – without the creepy (though honest) name and all-seeing-eye logo – with little controversy or even notice.

Back in 2010, worldwide controversy erupted when the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates banned the use of Blackberries because some communications were inaccessible to government intelligence agencies, and that could not be tolerated. The Obama administration condemned this move on the ground that it threatened core freedoms, only to turn around six weeks later and demand that all forms of digital communications allow the US government backdoor access to intercept them. Put another way, the US government embraced exactly the same rationale invoked by the UAE and Saudi agencies: that no communications can be off limits. Indeed, the UAE, when responding to condemnations from the Obama administration, noted that it was simply doing exactly that which the US government does:

“‘In fact, the UAE is exercising its sovereign right and is asking for exactly the same regulatory compliance – and with the same principles of judicial and regulatory oversight – that Blackberry grants the US and other governments and nothing more,’ [UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al] Otaiba said. ‘Importantly, the UAE requires the same compliance as the US for the very same reasons: to protect national security and to assist in law enforcement.'”

That no human communications can be allowed to take place without the scrutinizing eye of the US government is indeed the animating principle of the US Surveillance State. Still, this revelation, made in passing on CNN, that every single telephone call made by and among Americans is recorded and stored is something which most people undoubtedly do not know, even if the small group of people who focus on surveillance issues believed it to be true (clearly, both Burnett and Costello were shocked to hear this).

Some new polling suggests that Americans, even after the Boston attack, are growing increasingly concerned about erosions of civil liberties in the name of Terrorism. Even those people who claim it does not matter instinctively understand the value of personal privacy: they put locks on their bedroom doors and vigilantly safeguard their email passwords. That’s why the US government so desperately maintains a wall of secrecy around their surveillance capabilities: because they fear that people will find their behavior unacceptably intrusive and threatening, as they did even back in 2002 when John Poindexter’s TIA was unveiled.

Mass surveillance is the hallmark of a tyrannical political culture. But whatever one’s views on that, the more that is known about what the US government and its surveillance agencies are doing, the better. This admission by this former FBI agent on CNN gives a very good sense for just how limitless these activities are.

– Source: The Guardian

You’ve read correctly, “AT&T and other telecoms had built a special network that allowed the National Security Agency full and unfettered access to data about the telephone calls and the content of email communications for all of their customers.” This was revealed in 2007 yet most people are still calling those who claim that the US has turned into a police state “conspiracy theorists”.

The 4th Amendment clearly states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The U.S. Constitution, created specifically to prevent the United States from turning into an oppressive dictatorship is under attack. From all sides.

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187 Comments on "Former FBI Counterterrorism Agent: “All Digital Communications” and Phone Calls are Recorded"

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nobody
2 years 6 months ago

People everyday should just start sending out random texts with words like bomb, gun and any type of weapon in then so they fill up with mass amounts of texts that probably get screened and it will waste there time having to deal with them all if everyone starts to do it, it won't matter that the real threats might get overlooked then cause its not like they will stop an attack anyways

KirtCobane
3 years 3 months ago

I always knew BigBro was watching and that's cool. Peace is far more volatile than war. I, none of us, should expect UncleSam to allow us to roam around running our mouths; without monitoring which SOB might have a subversive inkling. Do you hate your government? Do you hate your country? Then YOU are my enemy.

peace
3 years 3 months ago

Ok this is not surprising BUT I have a horrible feeling that all tele-communications are put into place as the "antichrist" or "messiah" is watching us and tracking us. Just like the role of God as God is all seeing and all watching.

Antidote
3 years 3 months ago

Illuminati can suck my enlightened ball sack.

Human
3 years 4 months ago
Thanks to VC for another very important article. I knew the old Echelon system routed all communications through Menwith Hill in the UK for the US and UK intelligence services but this was in the late 1980's. Technology publicly available has of course totally transformed modern life and the way people communicate and distribute information and so has computer and analytical technology. This explains why immense data centres are being constructed in the US and Europe to record all data. The ruling elite are also planning global depopulation and one aspect is the Georgia Guidestones, VC has a great article… Read more »
Misscheese
3 years 4 months ago

My mom has been working AT&T, she worked at the office that was working with the government but on a different floor. At the time the address of this building was 666 Folsom street in SF. Since AT&T has left the building the number of the address 666 has been changed…..weird

Truthseeker2013
3 years 4 months ago
I can't find the post where they were discussing pictures of people in the Civil War looking like celebrities today. Several ieas were introduced I think time travel and a lot of them just shrugged it off as a person resembling other people. What struck me as odd and I didn't think of it at the time of reading the article was Hugh Jackman starring in Wolverine and the opening sequence almost mirrored some of the words being discusses. It mentioned time travel as well and how he was captured in pictures back in the Civil Wr as well. His… Read more »
Bean Head
3 years 4 months ago
I knew but I didn't know that they were allowing all types like emails and facebook chats! The cell phones I knew of but I read that for each phone co. like At&T they have different time periods of storing the dig. data but this article never said that the NSA has a back door to all the dig data and stores it on their comp.! Wow no wonder cell phones are made now to have the internet on them. If anyone can answer this pls do: Its the land lines safer than the cell phone or internet? I think… Read more »
Mercer
3 years 4 months ago

Recent Associated Press article "Gov't obtains wide AP phone records in probe" states that the government "counter terrorism" has secretly gathered months of phone calls from the press. They are trying to squash our rights!

Chris R
3 years 4 months ago

Search "Room 641A"

Truthistruth
3 years 4 months ago
This argument is false: If one has nothing to hide, then what's the fuss? Should society remain as it currently does, then all would be well, I suppose. But we all know that society's pendulum swings…. One year, you are on your way to synagogue in Hamburg, and by the next year, you are on your way to the camps. One year, you dabble in a new and interesting philosophy, the next, you are on the McCarthy blacklist, with career and personal reputation in tatters. In 1991, you are living in harmony with your neighbour in Sarajevo, and by 1992,… Read more »
Alexandra
3 years 4 months ago

I believe nonsense like this was predicted in the Bible.

1 Thessalonians 5:3 (KJV) For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

The "safety" part reminds me of Big Brother. Have to spy on you to keep you safe!

But notice what happens to these spooks….

They should also take note of Revelation 19. That is their fate. So I'm not worried, TPTB will be dealt with.

Me987987987
3 years 4 months ago

I knew they did this. Not to sound crazy but I always had a feeling people knew everything from cell phones cameras and all

BluBoy
3 years 4 months ago

This is nothing guys – wait till the economy collapses and at some point there is going to be no "money", i mean "paper money" NO MONEY – Its all going to be done electronically, which we are slowly but surely getting there. Thats the reason why we have Chip and Pin

BLAH
3 years 4 months ago

What fucking bullshit. They don't give a single shit about our rights anymore.

BluBoy
3 years 4 months ago

Remember guys………..The "Elite" have technology that is ultra advanced and are generations ahead of us. The only time when we hear about the implementation of these new technology programmes/devices is when "THEY" make an announcement of it. Just because they dont or have'nt as yet, doesnt mean it doesnt exist…….I mean whats the deal with AREA 51?, building military aircraft that no-one has ever seen and creating technology devices???? hmmmmm, its been a secret for decades but whats the REAL REASON?

asshole
3 years 4 months ago

Lol the thought of someone or somethin sorting out the amount of phone calls taken place in one day let alone a year by even one person would be an astonomical amoun of work. And where is all this storage comming from? Whose payin for it? This just makes me laugh.

gizmo
3 years 4 months ago

Interesting…the original article in the Guardian, has suddenly been removed from their website.

gizmo
3 years 4 months ago

Never mind it is back. I guess my computer had a glitch as it said article not found a bit ago.

Kayla
3 years 4 months ago

It doesn't surprise me. Reminds me of J.J. Abram's television show 'Person Of Interest' where everything is recorded on a super advanced surveillance machine. Social networking just makes it easier, surveilling ourselves. Where will this all end?

BluBoy
3 years 4 months ago

Guys and VC – Watch the 1999 film Enemy of the State, when you watch it now you will just go Wooooow, Thanks again VC of course

Truthseeker2013
3 years 4 months ago

I watched it and had discussions with lots of people. Back then they called me crazy and stopped talking to me because thst was the era of the 2000 bug. They laughed at me because I said the world would end as we know it. So they we're thinking nuclear explosion not a digital explsion.

cdzrez
3 years 4 months ago
What is scary is that the government can easily pin anything on anyone, create a correspondence you never had, piece together a manifesto and turn the world against you. Make trouble for the NWO, they've employed a techie army to make you into the next Bin Ladin. You may deny it, but who is going to listen to a pariah? Email and text messaging should not be admissible at all as “evidence” for prosecution, because it can be so easily manipulated! It's just ridiculous when you think about it. In a sense, digital information is junk, because it can be… Read more »
sound
3 years 4 months ago

@Chloe — ever watch Wag the Dog? That's the same concept.

Chloe
3 years 4 months ago

Excellent point. It works the other way round, too – in '1984' Winston could invent people – 'heroes' who died, fighting the 'enemy' of 'Big Brother'. Gave them a whole back story …!

sound
3 years 4 months ago
When I was a kid, the adults around me always said never to believe anything on televisions in movies. It was all fake. I believed them. I've learned better. 1 As a pre-teen I found out my dad and mom watched a lot of sci-fi movies, and prognosticated that half of the technology in them WOULD ended up in real life. A decade or two later, that stuff from the movies ended up on our desks, pockets, and living rooms 2 I've seen and heard a lot of tv/radio/films about government/"OTHER"agency spying devices (The Net, anyone?) It was all fun… Read more »
Kristina
3 years 4 months ago
Let them record – I'm sure they are absolutely so entertained by the hours and hours my best friend and I spend talking about cats, shoes, wine, and the men in our lives. And the hours I've spend fighting with my dingbat boyfriend… Talking in circles about feelings and emotional needs and wants… And heck, they could even go ahead and spy on me from my TV, I bet the farting and burping and a$$ scratching I do is extremely important to homeland security!!!! Oh and don't forget the hours I'll spend playing tag with my cat (Yes cats can… Read more »
Grace
3 years 3 months ago

There is a list on here or somewhere, you might have to Google, that has a list of words that if said on FB or in convo via email or phone conversations of words that is sent to "the FBI" for further investigation…such as nicknames for drugs, terroristic words like bomb, etc……..

asshole
3 years 4 months ago

Hey im actually pretty important you should speak for yourself.

sonata
3 years 4 months ago
I used to think that too. Until I realized that you can invent enemies just as easy as find real ones. Find the "terrorist du jour" and weed them out; works especially well if you're religious, politically involved, or just like your individual freedoms protected from herd mentality. Because EVERYONE KNOWS all those christians, muslims, whatever-ians are just crazy and dangerous, and wouldn't life be better if they just went away? So the rest of us could just get on talking about our cats, shoes, wine, and men — like normal people? Also until I realized that computers are what… Read more »
Mercer
3 years 4 months ago

Sadly, at the end of the day most of the alphabet soups are made up of worthless bureaucrats.

The true enemy of humanity is fear and so many love to hang on to it.

Don't confuse incompetence with conspiracy.

Gary
3 years 4 months ago

It disgusts me how CNN always makes up a catchy phrase for big breaking news events like this. They called this the "Boston Bombings", and they called the Aurora theater shooting the "Colorado Massacre". And they have that flashing around in the bottom-left corner. It's all about their money and our "entertainment".

Kristina
3 years 4 months ago

Ain't nothing about entertainment, dear. It's all about creating a pervasive presence of fear.

Gary
3 years 4 months ago

Persuasive presence of fear and entertainment. They definitely gain the fear of the audience, but what I meant by entertainment is that national TV news has become something people watch to "keep up with current events" and "see the latest news". So basically, they're watching the news as a form of entertainment, not enjoying the horrific situation they see, but enjoying the availability of information.

daylight
3 years 4 months ago

Totally agree and noticed the same thing. I get the feeling like they're glorifying and celebrating it, you can see the excitement on some of these news reporters faces, they love it. They sell it off as entertainment, because that's how these disgusting people view it as. Afterwards, they mention how much their ratings have increased, as if it were sweeps week to them.

Gary
3 years 4 months ago

I agree. But I also notice how reporters usually seem totally unaffected by the situation unfolding around them. What I mean by this is that there's people screaming and crying all around them, and they stand amongst those people with an intent, unphased look. You rarely hear more than a "this is such a tragedy, our thoughts are with the victims" from the reporters because they know how popular the event is going to be, and how much more money and success they will have because of it.

Chloe
3 years 4 months ago

That's a lot of reporters for you. I remember reading an article about reporters covering the famine in Africa. They didn't HELP practically; they just REPORTED. Apparantly, after the crew had driven past the same starving child a few times, one American journalist couldn't stand it any longer, and took the child to get help. The child survived.

Trace
3 years 4 months ago

I wouldn't be so concerned if I trusted my government only to use the stored recordings to national security and under the checks and balances of warrants. Unfortunately I doubt that is the case and it's likely their used for other purposes.

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