America I Hardly Knew Ya – FBI – A Few Bad Ideas – (7)

Big Brother Is Watching You – Whether You Like It Or Not

The day after the High Holiday of Socialism Tim Clemente a former FBI agent in the counter-terrorism unit appeared on the show hosted by Carol Costello. (As kids our Costello friends told us they were Irish. We only knew of Frank Costello & Lou Costello who were Italians. We never knew what side of the then important Italian/Irish divide our friends really stood.)

Yesterday I told how Clemente on May 1, 2013 spoke to Erin Burnett on CNN and talked about the Big Vacuum (BV) used by Big Brother  (BB) that sucks in every American conversation and stores it for future use. It should have been an astounding revelation to any American but judging from the media coverage no one seemed to get particularly worked up about it. It is business as usual in 9/11 America and perhaps one of the reason’s the FBI can get away with stonewalling its involvement in the Tamerlan Affair.

I did suggest that given time to think it over his statement Clemente may have  wanted to go back on CNN to retract his assertion about the BV.  Here’s what happened:

Costello: “OK. Let’s turn our attention now to the phone call between Katherine Russell and her husband Tamerlan Tsarnaev. You said something very interesting on Erin Burnett’s show last night. You said that if Katherine Russell does not divulge the contents of this phone call, that the FBI had other methods finding out what was said. What did you mean by that?”

Tim Clemente: “Well, on the national security side of the house in the federal government, we have assets. There’s lots of assets at our disposal throughout the intelligence community, and also not just domestically but overseas. Those assets allow us to gain information and intelligence on things that we can’t use ordinarily in a criminal investigation but are used for major terrorism investigations or counterintelligence investigations.”

Costello: “And you’re not talking about a voicemail right? What are you talking about exactly?”

Tim Clemente:  “I’m talking about all digital communications are – there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past. And I can’t go into detail of how that’s done, or what’s done. But I can tell you that no digital communication is secure. And so these communications will be found out, the conversation will be known. And it’s just a question of whether or not Katherine Russell decides to own up to what was said prior to that information being known or after the fact. And it’ll be unfortunate for her if she doesn’t own up to it completely and fully because the facts of this case, the facts of her involvement and communication with her husband, will be known.”

I know, I know, we’re good guys so we think it’s just swell that the government keeps everything and can go back and find out what the bad guys were talking about. And, of course, the government will only use that information in a proper manner.

Here’s my little example of how the FBI used that type of information in the past.

It was coming up to the spring of my senior year in college. I thought it would be cool to visit Cuba during spring break. This was before Castro became a notorious anti-American. I wrote to Fidel asking him if it’d be all right if I and some fraternity brothers spent a week or so on his island. We were a little short of cash and hoped Fidel would share some of his new-found riches with us by putting us up in one of those luxurious gangster hotels he had recently seized and giving us a tour of the town.

A short time after writing I was called into the Dean of Discipline’s office. He knew that one of Castro’s aides had written back to me inviting me to come. I had not received the letter at that time. The FBI had opened it (then it had an illegal mail opening program) and notified the Dean of my college that I had been invited.  The Dean told if I, or my friends, went to Cuba none of us would be allowed to graduate.

That’s just one wrongful intrusion into someone’s life that affected it in some small manner. But is does tell us of the enormous power our secret police force has to effectively control everyone in America when it has access to all our conversations. Apply for a job, then your employer may be given select transcripts of your conversations of years ago. Seek a loan, the bank may have access to your prior financial discussions. Back in 2010 the Washington Post reported that Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.”

Unfortunately, the FBI, and other secret government agencies, ignore the 4th Amendment. We are no longer secure in our papers and effects. For that we are much less than we should be. After 9/11 we gave the government a smile  and it took our private lives. I think about what is happening today and I sometimes think America I hardly knew ya.

6 thoughts on “America I Hardly Knew Ya – FBI – A Few Bad Ideas – (7)

  1. tHE COUNTRY IS IN DEEP TROUBLE, THE CONGRESSMAN POOLE IS CORRECT! a HUMBLE suggesion: Restore Balance: (1) Sever all corporate-governmental partnerships; (2) End all joint judicial-press conferences, committees, associations; (3) Implement, as Matt suggests, a strict, disciplined WARRANT program respectful of our Fouth Amendment Rights (4) Stop the FEDS from investigating local affairs (Chuck Turner, Ken Conley etc) —My friend, decorated Viet VEt War hero Bob Cunningham, a conservative IrshCatholicfromDorchester, Great Athlete, works way up to be Director of PUblic Safety in Massachusetts: What I believe was a joint FED/STATE jihad was launched against him and he was forced to resign. WHY? Because he was photographed at L-Street playing Handball with an EX-CON. The liberal press joined the ideological JIHAD to oust the Moderate/Conservative/TRaditionalist/WarHero/VEtfromDorchester: the Press said: “We can’t have Commissioners of Public Safety associated with EX-Cons.” The next Commissioner likely was a bumkissing liberal Globaphile from Cambridge (Harvard Yard) whose husband probably was bilking clients out of millions on the stockmarket and who was personally involved in negligently diverting speed (diet pills) from his pharmaceutical company.

    1. Bill:
      Interesting story about Cunningham and the press saying it can’t have people in high places in law enforcement interacting with ex-cons; how about all the media members interacting with all the gangsters in the Whitey saga? Is it those in the media are holier than others (like the FBI) where they can associate with gangsters but dare someone else do it there is something wrong. Sounds very double-standardish.

  2. Matt,

    But what would be your proposed remedy? I hate to be pessimistic or cynical, but how would you go about making them stop?

    And if successful, do you really think they would stop? How would you know?The main point here is, of course, that they are copying every type of communication and no one seems to care. Another point might be that they are so sure that no one can (or wants to) do anything to stop them that they can let these guys blab away. Compare the gov’t reaction to Clemente’s “leak” to their pursuit of the AP. It’s almost as if they assumed everyone already knew and was OK with it.

    But I think this “privacy” boat has sailed. Digital communication has done for privacy in personal communication what digitized music files did for property rights in music.

    You can rail all you wish, Canute, but the technological forecasts are against you and the tide is expected to continue to rise. To no response from the citizenry, I guess.

    I just wish people would get as excited about this as they do about the Second Amendment. To quote Bill Maher, “The second amendment isn’t being attacked, ALL THE REST OF THEM ARE!”

    I’m not a fan, but “Even a stopped clock…”

    1. Jeff:
      The remedy is clear, no conversations can be intercepted without a warrant. And any persons whose conversation is interception with (or even without a warrat) must be notified of that event within 180 days of that action; unless extremely important facts are shown that to do so will jeopardize the nation’s well being, then a judge can delay notice for up to three years, but no longer under any circumstance. It’s not hard to get a warrant. We have a FISA court that issues warrants in national security matters. Until 2003 no warrants were ever turned down by that court. I read last year it didn’t turn any down. I also read that during a period when 18,761 warrants issued only 5 were turned down.
      I’d make them stop by having an independent inspector with sufficient powers to determine when unauthorized seizures are being made and make the penalty for any person who does this the loss of all pension rights. Period. You work for any government agency and you’re determined to have violated someone’s rights by secretly without authority intercepting the contents of their communications your pension rights are gone with no other recourse. That’ll guarantee compliance.
      The privacy boat might have sailed but we can trim the sails of the government’s intrusion on our privacy by taking some bold steps. There’s little I can do to prevent a private person from spying on me but because of that I shouldn’t have to also give the government carte blanche to do the same thing.
      I’m luke warn on Bill Maher, I never saw a guy who was just average who though of himself some sort of genius as he seems to think he is. But his point is well taken because that’s what is going on. People will have their guns but won’t be able to leave their houses with them.
      I at least can write about them and hope somehow, somewhere it may enlighten others who may do the same down the road. The problem is keeping people’s attention. I leave you with this quote of the day.
      It is a quote about Congress from a Boston Globe article today about a congressman who returned to Capitol Hill after a 30 year absence. He finds everything is different. Here’s the quote: ““They’re the most dysfunctional group of political leaders the United States has had since the 1850s,” says Keith Poole, a professor at the University of Georgia who helped develop the system to measure polarization in Congress. “All I can say is the country is in really deep trouble. Much deeper than people realize.””

      1. But Matt,

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you quoting to me existing law? One of my points is that government seems emboldened to ignore current laws protecting the rights of the accused and of citizens to be secure in their effects under the guise of “national security”.
        I remember Dan Carlin, on his “Common Sense” podcast, talking about how he could not even get an interview with the Senator from his state, Oregon, to discuss secrecy in “The War on Terror” because that Senator was on the oversight committee and was afraid that if he (the Senator) appeared without his phalanx of lawyers and inadvertantly let something slip, he would be liable to prosecution by the same DoJ that is currentlly prosecuting WSJ reporter Rosen for the new crime of asking reporterly questions. It’s one thing to “chill” reporters and sources, but US Senators?
        I agree with everything that you say in your response but I fear that, when the folks tasked to enforce Constitutional protections find it in their best interests not to, you need a “higher power” to force them to comply. Do you see this dysfunctional Congress, the deeply politicised Supreme Court or any administration of any stripe (who get to wield these new powers) stepping up anytime soon in our defense?
        I fear we have a long hard ride ahead. The tools are in place for the most intrusive regime in history, if we let the government go there. Sadly, I think my fellow citizens will happily sign on to this “Brave New World” as long as those in charge reign in our cable bills and gas prices.
        And of course, suspicion falls on anyone who claims to see a problem. “If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?”


        1. Jeff:

          It’s hard to answer whether you are wrong or not. I always thought that was the existing law but recently the DOJ pretend things in the Patriot Act have changed the law and the courts go along with it. For instance the national security letters the FBI sends to banks (or others) to look at your accounts it seems there is a penalty if the party from whom the information is requested discloses the request and there does not seem to any notice requirement. So perhaps I should say you are not wrong because the Constitution and the 4th Amendment require our papers be kept from the government without warrants and legislation like the Patriot Act cannot change our Constitutional rights but if the courts don’t enforce our laws them we are at sea without any rights.
          Unfortunately I don’t see anyone stepping up to enforce our rights and the more confused the Congress becomes in its petty battles (how much time have we wasted listening to the overriding the debt limit debate or the horrors of sequestration) trying to please some of its radical constituency the less oversight there will be over those who resent any type of restriction on them.

          I agree with everything else you say which is in effect when a vacuum occurs the most repressive powers will walk in to take control. I’m particularly bothered by the federal courts which seem to respond to things ever more slowly as if in a deliberate slow down. I suppose in one sense it has always been like that as we can tell from the old expression “don’t make a federal case out of it.”

          My sense is Bush set us on this road with his “you’re with us or against us” mantra and the culprits he surrounded himself with; it was hoped Obama would come in and modify some of overreaching done under Bush but he just doubled down on it. Both of these men, as different as they are, basically operated from motives they thought best for the country depending on their outlook in life without any sinister purposes behind their decisions. But the accumulation of vast state police type powers continues unabated. Now we are set up for a person who has a more authoritarian type disposition to jump the presidency which has already become pretty close to being a dictatorship.

          When you look at the past in other countries you’ll see it’s not too hard to lose one’s freedom. All we need in America is the right type individual to take over the executive branch and the tools are there for her to suppress all dissent. You note accurately that somehow criticism of government is equated with lack of patriotism when the exact opposite is true. I believe you are right about your fellow citizens who mostly have checked out and left the door open for whoever comes along next to do whatever she wants.

          Just as an aside, I happen to be walking down the street in Paris the other day and ended up coming upon a huge parade of people coming from all over France who were protesting the recent passage of the gay marriage bill there. I’ve never experienced in America so many people marching behind banners of their cities and towns waving flags and singing songs. I stood there an hour as crowds or marchers poured by me. I understood that there were similar marches on two other major avenues with the three groups descending on one area where a huge rally was held. Police estimated the crowd at 150,000, the organizers at over 1 million, but my guess, comparing it to the 250,000 crowd for MLK in DC the number was around 500,000. I mention this because I don’t see anything like this happening in America. The citizens seem to have lost their voice. We’ve become a checked-out society and as I heard a person describe the US as “Fatland” – everyone’s fat and happy ignoring the important things that are going on.

          Sorry for the rant. You made some good points that set me off.

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