Did Shia LaBeouf Scoop the NSA Whistleblower by Five Years? (Video)
Five years before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden would stun the world by divulging details of the U.S. government's computer surveillance program -- the menacingly dubbed PRISM -- another would-be whistleblower was spilling alleged secrets about Uncle Sam's Big Brother tendencies.
His name is Shia LaBeouf.
It was 2008, and the actor was starring at the time in Eagle Eye, a high-tech thriller in which he played a college dropout who, with the help of an anonymous female caller, hacks his way through multiple network systems in an attempt to evade the FBI.
Appearing on The Tonight Show to promote the film, LaBeouf told host Jay Leno that a real FBI agent was on set as a consultant, and offered a chilling demonstration of the bureau's reach.
"He told me that one in five phone calls that you make are recorded and logged," LaBeouf said. "And I laughed at him and then he played back a phone conversation I'd had two years prior."
"It was one of those 'what are you wearing' type things," he recalled. "It was mad weird."
Leno responded to the assertion with several "wows," then finally spit out, "That's pretty amazing."
But is it true?
Wired asked a former counter-terrorism agent with the FBI, Thomas Knowles, if LaBeouf's outlandish claims held any water.
“I like Shia, he’s a good kid,” Knowles said. “I don’t want to speak for him, but he was just trying to promote his movie. He was what, 21, 22 back then?”
Knowles added that he has approached LaBeouf's reps to ask for a retraction of what he insists is a tall tale made up to sell movie tickets.