Is the U.S. Government Recording and Saving All Domestic Telephone Calls?
I have no idea if “former counterterrorism agent for the FBI” Tom Clemente knows what he’s talking about, but that’s certainly what he implies here:
More recently, two sources familiar with the investigation told CNN that Russell had spoken with Tamerlan after his picture appeared on national television April 18.
What exactly the two said remains under investigation, the sources said.
Investigators may be able to recover the conversation, said Tom Clemente, a former counterterrorism agent for the FBI.
“We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation,” he told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday, adding that “all of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
“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,” he said.
I’m very skeptical about Clemente’s comments. He left the FBI shortly after 9/11, and he didn’t have any special security clearances. My guess is that he is speaking more about what the NSA and FBI could potentially do, and not about what they are doing right now. And I don’t believe that the NSA could save every domestic phone call, not at this time. Possibly after the Utah data center is finished, but not now. They could be saving the all the metadata now, but I’m skeptical about that too.
EDITED TO ADD (5/7): Interesting comments. I think it’s worth going through the math. There are two possible ways to do this. The first is to collect, compress, transport, and store. The second is to collect, convert to text, transport, and store. So, what data rates, processing requirements, and storage sizes are we talking about?