In an exchange between CNN’s Erin Burnett and a man introduced as a former counter-terrorist of the FBI, the man admitted that the government has access to all of our digital communications. This came up during a discussion of the government’s monitoring of phone calls between the accused Boston terrorist and his wife after his picture was released to the news media.
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.
Back in 2007, a retired technician from AT&T warned that the National Security Agency was intercepting all phone calls through AT&T, not just calls made the foreigners, as the agency claimed. This was reported by the Washington Post.
In an interview yesterday, he alleged that the NSA set up a system that vacuumed up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans with the cooperation of AT&T . Contrary to the government’s depiction of its surveillance program as aimed at overseas terrorists, Klein said, much of the data sent through AT&T to the NSA was purely domestic. Klein said he believes that the NSA was analyzing the records for usage patterns as well as for content.
He said the NSA built a special room to receive data streamed through an AT&T Internet room containing “peering links,” or major connections to other telecom providers. The largest of the links delivered 2.5 gigabits of data — the equivalent of one-quarter of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s text — per second, said Klein, whose documents and eyewitness account form the basis of one of the first lawsuits filed against the telecom giants after the government’s warrantless-surveillance program was reported in the New York Times in December 2005.
The government then granted immunity to all telecoms for such interceptions.
A former NSA official a year ago said that the NSA tracks all emails inside the USA. He said that the level of surveillance has increased during the Obama Administration.
This was reported by civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald. The story appeared in a liberal British newspaper. Greenwald thinks that the NSA has access retroactively to all digital communications inside the USA. If correct, then the only limits on the government today are manpower limits: the ability to investigate, report, and prosecute.