December 24, 2004

Israel Spy Probe Set To Explode

At least 200 Israelis have been detained or arrested during 2004 in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israelis in the United States. The majority of those questioned have "stated they served in military intelligence, electronic surveillance intercept and or explosive ordinance units."

Following 9/11, there were stories of Israeli spies dancing on New York rooftops as they watched the WTC burn, allegations that Israel knew of Al Quaeda's plans but said nothing to the US government, and other such "Conspiracy Theories". Now it seems likely that many of these theories are likely to prove true. The fallout from this investigation is likely to impact the very highest echelons of US government, and it seems the FBI cannot keep the lid on it much longer. It will certainly damage the neo-conservative movement and could even bring down the Bush regime.

That's assuming it is not covered up, of course. Fox News (of all people!) recently ran a four-part video news story on these allegations, only to pull them from their website. But Information Clearing House has the videos and transcipts available here.

Here's the main gist of it all:
American terrorist investigators fear certain suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them, by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone. How? By obtaining and analyzing data that's generated every time someone in the U.S. makes a call...

Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunications company. Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it...

Comverse Infosys [is] a subsidiary of an Israeli-run private telecommunications firm, with offices throughout the U.S. It provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement. Here's how wiretapping works in the U.S.

Every time you make a call, it passes through the nation's elaborate network of switchers and routers run by the phone companies. Custom computers and software, made by companies like Comverse, are tied into that network to intercept, record and store the wiretapped calls, and at the same time transmit them to investigators.

The manufacturers have continuing access to the computers so they can service them and keep them free of glitches. This process was authorized by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA...

in Israel, Comverse works closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs, gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. But investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide.

And sources say that while various F.B.I. inquiries into Comverse have been conducted over the years, they've been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks. A 1999 F.C.C. document indicates several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system. And the FBI's own nondescript office in Chantilly, Virginia that actually oversees the CALEA wiretapping program, is among the most agitated about the threat.

But there is a bitter turf war internally at F.B.I. It is the FBI's office in Quantico, Virginia, that has jurisdiction over awarding contracts and buying intercept equipment. And for years, they've thrown much of the business to Comverse. A handful of former U.S. law enforcement officials involved in awarding Comverse government contracts over the years now work for the company.

... And what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in the counter terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought to wiretap and survey immediately changed their telecommunications processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those supposedly secret wiretaps went into place.
See Information Clearing House for more.

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