Who needs NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden when we had Shia LaBeouf telling us what’s up five years ago?
If you believe the actor’s tale to Jay Leno during an interview to promote his surveillance film Eagle Eye in 2008, the FBI records one in five of all our calls.
Let me repeat that – one in five of all of our calls.
In the interview, the actor told the Tonight Show host that the FBI consultant on the film leaked the intelligence to him in a casual conversation.
“He told me that one in five phone calls that you make are recorded and logged, and I laughed at him and then he played back a phone conversation I’d had two years prior,” LaBeouf told Leno.
But former counter-terrorism FBI agent Thomas Knowles says the revelation is just a tall tale told by an actor trying to promote his movie.
“I like Shia, he’s a good kid,” Knowles told Wired. “I don’t want to speak for him, but he was just trying to promote his movie. He was what, 21, 22 [years old] back then?”
Knowles, a former supervisor of the Joint Terrorism Taskforce in Fresno, says on the face of it the claim doesn’t even make sense.
“Put it this way… you couldn’t take that many conversations. You don’t want that many conversations. You want numbers. So the whole thing about conversations in Shia’s comment just doesn’t make sense if somebody looks at it closely.”
As for LaBeouf’s claim that Knowles played him a recording of one of his own phone calls, Knowles says he wouldn’t have had access to such a call. He retired from the Bureau in 2006. Filming for the movie occurred in late 2007.
He didn’t know LaBeouf had made the statement to Leno until a friend called this week and told him the old interview was making the rounds in light of recent revelations about the NSA collecting metadata on phone calls made by Verizon customers.
“I looked at it and said, oh my God,” he says. “Had I known his thing existed a long time ago, I would have had a talk with him and said what the F are you doing? Do not go around saying crap like that.
“We’re talking with his camp now to make a retraction.”
Knowles retired after 22 years with the Bureau and now runs a consulting business in Fresno called Justus Consulting and Investigations.
LaBeouf has not responded yet to a request for comment.