Big Brother’s Big Vacuum – FBI – A Few Bad Ideas – (6)

At Least Unlike Others J. Edgar Hoover Knew These Weren't Our Friends
At Least Unlike Others J. Edgar Hoover Knew These Weren’t Our Friends

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.


  1. I read where they have two candidates for the Director’s job at the FBI
    One is a woman and the other is a former W. Bush appointment.

    What’s the chance that it makes any difference?

  2. Matt, you quoted the only other “stand up guy” whose words I trust, besides you,…Tom Foley..right to the..”lawbreakers, etc…” Duped or not, due to immaturity as an investigator, or not…this guy had single-minded, unadulterated, investigative instincts that led to many breaks in the case. While it was happening,…I venture to say Foley, was the sinfle-most effective investigator on the case, bar none.

  3. the real question is why aren’t we all making more of our inexorable slide from freedom into slavery. we might try to blame Uncle Sam’s agents but they work for us. bread and circuses

    • Hopalong:
      That’s what this blog is about – to keep American’s free and I appreciate people like yourself joining in. I wrote to two journalists and meklas@miamiherald.comn asking them to keep the heat on the FBI on the recent killing in Florida. They have written stories expressing a bit of skepticism over the FBI’s story. We can start slowly by encouraging main media types to be alert as to what is happening around them. If the people in the mainstream start watching out for encroachments on our freedom then there is a chance these will slow down and perhaps reverse themselves.

  4. Great post. Great questions. The author of ” Puzzle Palace” noted twenty years ago that the NSA had a mutual agreement with a British operation called UK_USA. The American NSA can’t listen to domestic calls. They listen to only foreign traffic ( including British). UK-USA is barred from listening to British domestic calls but can retrieve American communications. The 4th Amendment is routinely violated when the Brits turn over to the FBI their American material. No probable cause, no search warrants and no magistrates. 2.The Herald reports that telephone conversations by WB at the Plymouth jail will be used against him. The article states that Connors went to the phone booth on Morrisey boulevard to receive a call from Howie Winter. According to Flemmi he and WB shot Connors at that time. Connors is alleged to have helped Winter Hill kill Spike O’Toole. O’Toole was part of the Charlsetown gang that battled the Somerville Winter Hill crowd and had killed several people. Flemmi’s book states that O’Toole walked into the Somerville garage of Winter unannounced and wanted to make peace. Winter was frightened by this tack and his gang decided they had to eliminate him. O’Toole was killed a short time later in Savin Hill. This information seems to connect Connors to Winter Hill and O’Toole’s demise. 3. C and B seem to want the name of an informant to show the Feds allowed a co operating witness to hide his friends involvement in the crime ( J. Flemmi) and to blame a non involved third party. Do they really need that when the Martorano book shows the Feds permitted him to protect his brother and other friends and hide their criminal activity? Isn’t the better tactic to demonstrate how everything the prosecutors have done in the last 20 years has benefitted the Mafia? That the heads of the NE Mafia ( Salemmi and Limone) have been freed. The bombers of Fitzgerald’s car are free or helping the government. That the top hitmen for LCN ( Martorano brothers) are at liberty. The Pizza connection and the heroin trade are flourishing. That the entire media campaign against WB is a lie. While WB may have been a small time local hood the jury can’t sanction the huge misconduct of the government. Just say no to this treachery.

    • N:
      1. I think that agreement between NSA and the Brits was the old way of avoiding the 4th Amendment. Now it’s just done without any consideration at all. 9/11 tore away all the safeguards we used to have from government spying. Both Bush and Obama liked it this way so it has become as American as apple pie.

      2. The conversations of Whitey are admitted as an exception to the 4th Amendment because he knows all his conversations are being intercepted as do the people he talks with. Flemmi is lying about the O’Toole murder. He was not killed by Winter Hill but by some other guys he had trouble with. Martorano explained the O’Toole murder and if you knew anything about Savin Hill you’d know his description made no sense.

      3. C&B have Weeks protecting Nee; they have Martorano protecting his brother and Howie Winter and all the other Roxbury group; they have Flemmi keeping more than half his property for his false tales; they have enough there. C&B have to show Whitey’s deal was to get the Mafia which he did and the Mafia guys Martorano and Flemmi got Whitey which is a Mafia trait of a payback. They clearly have to show the Martorano/Angiulo connection; they also need to show the Flemmi/Salemme connection; then they have to show Whitey and Connolly knocked off Angiulo and the rest of the Mafia.

      Here’s how the Feds look at their case. They bring in the murderers Weeks, Martorano and Flemmi. They tell how they murdered all those people. Then they say Whitey was with them. And the families come in and yell at Whitey. I’m beginning to think mistrial if that is their approach.

  5. The Napoleonic police state is here:

    Panopticon III is affordable, effective, and available to anyone who wants to use it. Initial purchase prices and monthly service fees are equivalent to cell-phone costs. In less than five years, the cost of continuous surveillance of a single individual has dropped from several hundred thousand dollars per year to less than $500 per year. Surveillance formerly justified solely for national security and high-stakes commerce is readily available to track a spouse, child, parent, employee, neighbor, or stranger.