Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, hinted on CNN that the government uses an intrusive surveillance network to monitor citizens' phone calls.
On CNN, he discussed the Boston Marathon attacks and telephone conversations between Katherine Russell and her now deceased husband Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Clemente said that the conversations between them will be available to the FBI.
Erin Burnett, CNN host, asked him, "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 replied, "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 asked, "So they can actually get that? People are saying, look, that is incredible."
Clemente said, "No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not."
He said that no digital communication was secure from the surveillance of the government.
This isn't the first time government surveillance on cellphone conversations has made headlines. The Guardian noted that it has been hinted at before, referring to the time when an AT&T engineer, Mark Klein, said the company helped the National Security Agency build a special network allowing it to access all cellphone data.
Even Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have said the public would be "stunned" to learn the lengths the government went to uncover information.
Should the U.S. government have the right to invade privacy if it helps ensure the safety of the American people?