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Kallstrom Calls All Calls Tappable
11-3-95. Wash Post:
"Privacy Groups Assail FBI's Wiretapping Plan" [Excerpt]
James Kallstrom, assistant FBI director in charge of the
New York field division, argues that the proposal would in
fact reduce the FBI's surveillance authority. "Today ... we
could tap all the phones in the United States," he said,
referring to older, pre-digital technology. Under the plan,
the FBI's surveillance ability would shrink to a maximum of
1 percent of simultaneous telephone calls from any one
telephone switch, he said.
Kallstrom said a typical central switching office in New
York that serves 50,000 telephone lines has a capacity to
carry only 5,000 calls simultaneously. It is the latter
number, not the former, he said, on which the FBI bases its
calculations. So the highest level of simultaneous
surveillance in that area, he said, would be 50 lines.
"We've never done that many" taps at one time, he said. But
in a "worst-case scenario," such as a major act of
terrorism, the agency might need such ability, he said. "I
think it's a reasonable, minimal, conservative number."