Monday, November 3, 2008

IS ISRAEL SPYING ON AMERICAN CITIZENS' PHONE CALLS?

Electronic Intifada - After the 11 September 2001 attacks, the United States government launched a massive program to spy on millions of its own citizens. Through the top secret National Security Agency, it has pursued "access to billions of private hard-line, cell, and wireless telephone conversations; text, e-mail and instant Internet messages; Web-page histories, faxes, and computer hard drives." In his new book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America author James Bamford casts light on this effort, including a detailed account of how spying on American citizens has been outsourced to several companies closely linked to Israel's intelligence services. . .

AT&T and Verizon handed "the bugging of their entire networks -- carrying billions of American communications every day" to two companies founded in Israel. Verint and Narus, as they are called, are "superintrusive -- conducting mass surveillance on both international and domestic communications 24/7," and sifting traffic at "key Internet gateways" around the US.

Virtually all US voice and data communications and much from the rest of the world can be remotely accessed by these companies in Israel, which Bamford describes as "the eavesdropping capital of the world." Although there is no way to prove cooperation, Bamford writes that "the greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and America's increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel's intelligence agencies."

Israel's spy agencies have long had a revolving-door relationship with Verint and Narus and other Israeli military-security firms. The relationship is particularly close between the firms and Israel's own version of the NSA, called "Unit 8200." After the 11 September attacks, Israeli companies seeking a share of massively expanded US intelligence budgets formed similarly incestuous relationships with some in the American intelligence establishment: Ken Minihan, a former director of the NSA, served on Verint's "security committee" and the former Federal Bureau of Investigation official responsible for liaison with the telecom industry became head of the Verint unit that sold eavesdropping equipment to the FBI and NSA.

Bamford writes that "concern over the cozy relationship between the [FBI] and Verint greatly increased following disclosure of the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping operations. At the same time that the tappers and the agents have grown uncomfortably close, the previous checks and balances, such as the need for a FISA warrant, have been eliminated.". . .

Although there has never been any congressional oversight of the Israeli intelligence-linked firms operating in the heart of the US security establishment, American lawmakers and officials are not always so relaxed when it comes to foreign intrusion in the "national security" sphere. In early 2006, there was a national uproar when Dubai Ports World, a global company based in the United Arab Emirates, attempted to buy the business that manages six major American seaports. . .

Israel has a well-established record of compromising American national security. The most notorious case was that of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Although the full details of his crimes are still secret, he is thought to have passed critical information about US intelligence-gathering methods to Israel, which then traded those secrets to US adversaries. In 2005, Larry Franklin, a Defense Department analyst, pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. Most recently, Ben-Ami Kadish, a retired US army engineer, was indicted in April for allegedly passing classified documents about US nuclear weapons to Israel from 1979 to 1985. Two former officials of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group, are still awaiting trial on charges that they passed classified information between Franklin and the Israeli government. . .

1 Comments:

At November 4, 2008 1:03 PM, Blogger Abe Bird said...

Silly rumors of NSA's failed clarck.

 

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