An Angle on NSA Surveillance I Bet You Haven’t Heard…

by Jul 9, 2013Liberty & Economy2 comments

National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland (Reuters / NSA / Handout via Reuters)

I'd meant to post about this ages ago, but never managed the time. Still don't have time to do a proper write-up about it, so I'll settle for just leaving you with some excerpts, a few bread crumbs for you to follow on your own....

I‘d meant to post about this ages ago, but never managed the time. Still don’t have time to do a proper write-up about it, so I’ll settle for just leaving you with some excerpts, a few bread crumbs for you to follow on your own….

First, from the article “Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA” by James Bamford in Wired from April 3, 2012:

According to a former Verizon employee briefed on the program, Verint, owned by Comverse Technology, taps the communication lines at Verizon, which I first reported in my book The Shadow Factory in 2008….

At AT&T the wiretapping rooms are powered by software and hardware from Narus, now owned by Boeing, a discovery made by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein in 2004….

What is especially troubling is that both companies have had extensive ties to Israel, as well as links to that country’s intelligence service, a country with a long and aggressive history of spying on the U.S.

From Ha’aretz, June 8, 2013:

PRISM’s objective was well explained in a video broadcast of one of Leon Panetta’s assistants, during Obama’s first term. If the search for those planning and those carrying out terrorist acts is like looking for a needle in a haystack, then, he said, first one must have a haystack. A mass of data is being assembled and stored waiting for the moment when it is needed so it can be sifted through and the needle can be retrieved using data-mining tools.

The public outcry over PRISM is typical of Americans. The pendulum swings sharply back and forth – as with the issue of the barriers between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation before 9/11 – to protect the rights of the hijackers. And as usual, there is an Israeli connection. Some people are quick to point out that the world leaders in communication surveillance technology and data-mining are companies that embrace the heritage of the MI’s units for intelligence-gathering, code-breaking and now-cyber warfare, among them Verint and Comverse.

From another Ha’aretz story the same day:

Verint, which took over its parent company Comverse Technology earlier this year, is responsible for tapping the communication lines of the American telephone giant Verizon, according to a past Verizon employee sited by James Bamford in Wired….

Both Verint and Narus have ties to the Israeli intelligence agency and the Israel Defense Forces intelligence-gathering unit 8200….

Given the close ties between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the question arises as to whether Israeli intelligence, including the Mossad, was party to the secret….

More from another Ha’aretz article, June 20, 2013:

But behind the scenes are a host of Israeli companies that have almost certainly taken part in the program as suppliers of technology….

Israeli companies are particularly vulnerable to such suspicions because they have such close ties to the country’s security establishment….

In Israel the transfer of data to security services is regulated by a secret appendix to telecom company licenses. While requests to companies for police surveillance and access to data require a court order, the Shin Bet security service operates under an exceptional legal exemption allowing it direct access to network data….

According to an April 2012 article by James Bamford in the U.S. technology magazine Wired, two other Israeli companies – Verint and Narus – collected information from the U.S. communications network for the NSA.

Verint, which was a unit of Comverse Technology until earlier this year, when it swallowed up its parent, is responsible for tapping the communication lines of the American telephone giant Verizon, according to a former Verizon employee cited in Wired. Neither Verint nor Verizon commented on the matter.

Natus, which was acquired by the American aeronautics company Boeing three years ago, supplied the software and hardware used in AT&T wiretapping rooms, according to whistle-blower Mark Klein, who revealed the information in 2004….

Both Verint and Narus have ties to the Israeli intelligence agency and the Israel Defense Forces intelligence-gathering unit 8200. Hanan Gefen, a former commander of the unit, told Forbes magazine in 2007 that Comverse’s technology was directly influenced by the technology of 8200. Ori Cohen, one of the founders of Narus, told Fortune magazine in 2001 that his partners had done technology work for Israeli intelligence.

 From my article “9/11 and the ‘War on Terrorism’: Facts and Myths“:

Of course, it is true that it is an urban legend that no Jews went to work at the WTC on September 11. But that myth seems to have sprung from the fact that there were indeed reports that Jews working in the building were warned of the coming attack. One is tempted to dismiss this with the assumption that it is propaganda from Arab media sources. In fact, it was an Israeli paper, Haaretz, that reported that workers at Odigo, an Israeli owned messaging service company with an office four blocks from the WTC, had received warnings that very day of an impending attack.

The Washington Post followed up on the report, saying that officials at Odigo “confirmed today that two employees received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks.” Despite the fact that Odigo said it had the IP address of the sender and was working with the FBI to track down whoever was responsible, to the best of my knowledge it was never reported that they either succeeded or failed in doing so.

Incidentally, Odigo was partnered with another Israeli company called Comverse.

Fox News reported in a series of reports on the uncovering of a massive Israeli spy ring operating in the U.S., saying that “There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it.” One investigator told Fox News, “Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified, I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered.”

As many as 60 Israelis were detained on suspicion of their participation in the spy ring. Part of their operation involved supposed “art students” trying to get into the homes of government personnel, including members of the military, the DEA, FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence personnel, under the guise of selling art.

Fox News also revealed that “virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private communications company.” According to Fox News, the National Security Agency (NSA) has warned U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement numerous times about the potential security breaches that this situation could make possible.

Reporter Carl Cameron also noted that Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, had warned the U.S. of a possible attack prior to 9/11, but that the warning “was nonspecific and general, and [investigators] believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and methods in the intelligence community; the suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in the United States.”

The third report in the series reported on another Israeli company that “provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement.” The company? Comverse Infosys. But there were fears about the system Comverse provided because “wiretap computer programs made by Comverse have, in effect, a back door through which wiretaps themselves can be intercepted by unauthorized parties. Adding to the suspicions is the fact that 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,” Cameron added, “investigators with the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is considered career suicide.”

A fourth installment in the series noted that the number of Israeli citizens that had been detained as suspected members of a foreign intelligence operation was nearly 200, and that most of them had been deported. Most “had served in the Israeli military, which is compulsory there. But they also had, most of them, intelligence expertise, and either worked for Amdocs or other companies in Israel that specialize in wiretapping.”

The Jewish newspaper, Forward, reported that “In recent years two reports, one by the Government Accounting Office, the other by the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned against Israeli economic and military espionage activity in the United States. In addition, the FBI conducted an investigation during the late 1990s into alleged Israeli wiretapping of the White House, the State Department and the National Security Council. The investigation ended in May 2000 without any result, according to The New York Times.”

Then there were the reports of the five dancing Israelis who were arrested after behaving suspiciously upon witnessing the burning towers from New Jersey. The five were witnessed by their white van videotaping or taking photos of the smoking buildings and celebrating. The FBI put out an alert on the vehicle after a witness reported its license plate number, which was registered to a company called Urban Moving Systems, an Israeli owned company.

When they were found, the driver told the arresting officers, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The suspects’ names came up in a search of the national intelligence database and they were suspected of conducting an intelligence operation. Forward noted that Urban Moving was a “company with few discernable assets that close up shop immediately afterward and whose owner fled to Israel.”

Forward also noted the Israeli “art students” who had been detained on suspicion of espionage, and added that “a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI concluded that at least two” of the Israelis seen celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center “were in fact Mossad operatives”.

And from: “Senior Corporate Executives Warned to Leave N.Y. on 9/11: Source“:

There have been numerous other indications that individuals within the U.S. had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

One such indication was the evidence of insider trading in the days just prior. Short selling and trading in put options, which are essentially bets that stock will drop, skyrocketed over a period of days before 9/11 only in companies that were directly affected.

For instance, purchases were made on 4,744 put options for United Airlines between September 6 and 7. On September 10, purchases were placed on 4,516 put options for American Airlines. United and American were the two airlines that had planes hijacked and destroyed in the attacks. There was no similarly unusual trading in other airlines.

Other companies directly affected also experienced a spike in the purchase of put options, such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Merril Lynch, both of which had offices in the World Trade Center.

Numerous countries around the world, including the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., France, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Spain, opened investigations into what had apparently been insider trading based on foreknowledge of the attacks.

Together, these purchases were worth millions. Yet with the reports of insider trading and foreknowledge circulating in the media, whoever was responsible chose not to collect the money.

One of the banks involved in the purchases was Alex Brown, the U.S. branch of the German Deutsche Bank, which was headed until 1998 by A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. He afterwards joined the CIA, and was Executive Director of the agency at the time of the attacks.

Trading is monitored through special software in real time by the CIA, so the agency would have been aware of the suspicious activity in the days just prior to the attacks.

Despite all this, the FBI announced that its own investigation had turned up no evidence that anyone had tried to profit from inside knowledge that the attacks would occur.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, which echoed the conclusion of the FBI, 95 percent of the purchases on United and American Airlines shares on September 6 and 10, respectively, were made by a single U.S. based institutional investor.

Robert Baer is a former CIA case officer and author of “Sleeping with the Devil” and “See No Evil”, which served as the basis for the film “Syriana” starring George Clooney. Baer told Stewart Howe and Jeremy Rothe-Kushel of the L.A. branch of the organization We Are Change, “I know the guy that went into his broker in San Diego and said ‘cash me out, it’s going down tomorrow.’” Baer added that “his brother worked at the White House.”

Baer also indicated that the 9/11 Commission Report had been a cover-up of what really happened and questioned why certain other oddities about 9/11 had not been investigated, such as “the famous white van”, which he said was “an intriguing story” that “deserves a book”.

He was referring to the case of the five Israelis who were witnessed on 9/11 celebrating beside their white van at the sight of the smoking towers from a parking lot in New Jersey. They were later arrested and detained. Upon arrest, the driver of the van told the arresting officers, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.”

The van was registered to an Israeli-owned company called Urban Moving Systems, whose owner immediately closed shop and fled to Israel. At least two of the five Israelis witnessed videotaping and celebrating the attacks were learned to be operatives of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

In other reporting that may or may not have been related to the five Israelis with the white van, it became known publicly that an enormous Israeli spy ring had been uncovered operating within the United States.

Reports of investigations into Israeli spying within the U.S. had emerged early in 2001. After 9/11, Fox News reported that according to investigators the Israeli intelligence operatives of a large spy ring may have gathered information in advance about the attacks of 9/11, but that the evidence for this was classified.

As part of the operation, Israelis posed as art students. Under the guise of selling art, they targeted government officials at their offices or homes, including members of the military, the DEA, the FBI, and other law enforcement and intelligence personnel.

One group of the Israeli “art students” lived at 4220 Sheridan St. in Hollywood, Florida, just down the street from the 3389 address where Mohammed Atta and three of the other 9/11 hijackers lived.

In addition, almost all the call records and billing for U.S. phone companies is handled by an Israeli-based private communications company called Amdocs Ltd. The NSA had warned other U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies about the potential security breaches that this situation might make possible.

There was some evidence that wiretaps were indeed being compromised. Law enforcement officials observed that suspects under surveillance suspiciously changed their behavior after wiretaps began, according to officials who spoke to Fox News.

It’s known that the DEA had also been investigating Israeli organized crime involved the multi-billion dollar ecstasy trade.

The FBI had also been investigating Amdocs and there were fears that even the telephone lines in the White House, which were installed by Bell Atlantic and Amdocs in 1997, might have been compromised.

According to a leaked DEA report from that agency’s investigation into the Israeli spy ring, one of the “art students” who was arrested was held on a $10,000 bond that was placed by an Israeli man named Ophir Baer who was in the U.S. under employment by Amdocs.

Another Israeli company, Comverse Infosys, was responsible for providing wiretapping for U.S. law enforcement. But, again, there was a fear among U.S. agencies that the wiretaps themselves could be intercepted by unauthorized parties through a back door in the Comverse system. Adding to these fears was the fact that Comverse was reimbursed for up to half of its research and development costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade.

Comverse was partnered with an Israeli messaging service company called Odigo. The Israeli paper Haaretz reported that workers at Odigo, which had offices near the World Trade Center, had received warnings on the morning of September 11 of an impending attack. The Washington Post confirmed that two employees of Odigo had “received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks.”

There is no direct evidence that the Israeli government or any Israeli nationals were involved in 9/11. In fact, Mossad had reportedly warned the U.S. intelligence community of an impending attack, including the potential that it might come in the form of hijackings. The possibility remains that Israeli intelligence came across the information leading to its warnings to the U.S. during the course of the extensive operation that was broken up in 2001.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Thanks! I’ve bookmarked the link and will check it out when I can.


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