On May Day, the day when the world celebrates the worker and I celebrate another great event in world history, (and I don’t mean the ersatz Law Day created by lawyers to tell themselves how important they are), CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed Tim Clemente, former FBI counter- terrorism expert..
Erin had been talking about the FBI dealing with Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife Catherine Russell, and wondering about the relationship between them with respect to how much she knew about Tamerlan’s plans to attack the Boston Marathon.
Erin asked: “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?”
It’s sort of stupid question one would expect a cable host to ask. We all know a recorded voice mail is recoverable but a routine conversation between a husband and a wife that took place a while ago is lost forever. Or is it?
Tim Clemente answered: “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.”
Do you grasp what this former FBI counter-terrorism expert told Erin Burnett. The FBI has ways and means to go back and find out what was said in a conversation that occurred months if not years ago.
There is in fact a BV – a Big Vacuum that takes in everything any person in America says over a telephone or on the internet. When you have a BV then you are officially in George Orwell’s world of 1984 where they had a BV’s friend BB – Big Brother.
Maybe Tim misspoke. At least Erin thought so.
She replied: “So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible.”
Tim gave her some religion (an FBI expression) by replying: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
Put that in your pipe, all you Americans, whether we “like it or not” every public utterance we make using an electronic means is being swept up by the BV.
I wonder if this former FBI agent (or others with whom he worked) have ever read these quaint old words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -“
I don’t remember any government official telling us it we don’t like something then that’s just tough — get used to it. Is this the America you want where BB using the BV can learn everything about you and act on it and you have no say in this? If it is, you’ve got it.
You liberals who want the government to stay out of our lives and you conservatives to who want to limit government powers are looking this issue in the eyes and not seeing it.This is not a left liberal or right conservative issue. This is an American issue. It is a fundamental issue as to who we are as a people.
Tim was careful to note that the FBI won’t be using it in court as if that were an ameliorating factor. Of course it can’t do that because of those other 200-year-old words contained in the 4th Amendment which said: “The right of the people to be secure . . . shall not be violated. . . ” It didn’t say it’s all right to violate people as long as you don’t use what you discover in court.
What Tim said is the FBI (and others in the government) is up to its old tricks again. It is breaking the laws which it is supposed to uphold. What position are we in when the law breakers are the law?
The 4th Amendment talked about the relation between the people and the government. It recognized that even though the FBI agents were our friends and neighbors they too as members of the government had to be restrained.
You may think I’m making too much of it. Perhaps Tim Clemente got a little carried away and given a good night’s sleep he’d recognize he exaggerated the power of the government snoopers a little too much and there is no BV after all. He did appear again on CNN the next night, May 2, 2013. I’ll tell you what he said tomorrow.