Ex-FBI agent discusses phone surveillance

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former FBI agent, Michael Tabman, says phone record surveillance has been going on for decades, in one form or another, but only on the scale it is now since just after September 11, 2001.

He says looking over phone records helps investigators identify suspicious patterns.

Tabman explains the correct protocol would have investigators finding suspicious patterns in phone calls, then after finding the patterns, going to a judge and getting permission to tap phone calls.
“We don’t get wire taps as easily as one would think.  A lot of work goes into it.  It’s manpower-intensive so I’d hope we’re judicious in our use,” Tabman said.

What qualifies as suspicious, he says, depends on who’s investigating.  He said in the case of federal officials it’d be activity that’s similar to something they’ve seen before a previous terrorist attack.

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