Steve Sailer has an article on the tie-in between Israeli high tech firms and the NSA spying on American citizens (“Does Israel Have a Backdoor to US Intelligence?“). It’s always seemed very suspicious that Amdocs, an Israeli firm, was responsible for billing for US phone companies, and that two Israeli firms, Narus and Verint, are involved in wiretapping AT&T and Verizon for the NSA. It’s also not surprising that, as noted by James Bamford in his April 2012 article for Wired, someone with close connections to Israel secretly gave software designed by NSA to Israel: “the advanced analytical and data mining software the NSA had developed for both its worldwide and international eavesdropping operations was secretly passed to Israel by a mid-level employee, apparently with close connections to the country.” Bamford’s source describes him as “a very strong supporter of Israel.”
This is likely yet another example of a long list of American Jews who are credibly believed to have spied for Israel, including pretty much the entire roster of prominent neocons (Perle, Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen; see here, p. 47ff)—none of whom, with the exception of Jonathan Pollard, have been convicted, and many of whom, like the person mentioned here, have never been indicted. And given this long list, it is certainly reasonable to think that Israel is using its connections with the NSA to mine US data for its own purposes. In fact, it would be silly to think otherwise.
The NYTimes, The Washington Post, and the LATimes have completely ignored the Israeli connection, and you certainly won’t hear about it on FOX news. So, as often happens, one must read Israeli papers. Haaretz (but not neocon The Jerusalem Post) has several articles on the Israeli connection. On the PRISM program that collects data from companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and AOL:
The data, gathered by the U.S. National Security Agency’s PRISM surveillance program, came from email accounts, Internet chats, browsing and search histories. The aim was to amass a database through which the NSA could learn whether terror suspects had been in contact with people in the United States.
In contrast to similar cases revealed in the past, the program involved thorough and continuous collection of data, even when no particular person or communications had aroused the authorities’ suspicions. …
Behind the scenes are a host of Israeli companies that have almost certainly taken part in the program as suppliers of technology. They may yet find themselves in the maelstrom, warns Nimrod Kozlovski, head of Tel Aviv University’s program for cyber studies.
“The exposure of PRISM underscores the feeling that communications networks and Internet companies have become the main tool for governments to gather information,” he says. “It is critical for the United States at all times to put a wall of separation between the government and commercial enterprises in order to quiet concerns that it has secret relationships with these companies.”
The concern is not just that the local government is spying on its citizens but that the manufacturers themselves have the ability to spy from afar.
Telecommunications systems almost always feature components that can be operated remotely so that software can be updated and routine maintenance chores can be conducted. … But these same systems can be used to penetrate the user country’s communications network as well. With the United States at the center of the world’s Internet traffic that problem is magnified. (“In U.S. snooping affair, Israeli firms at risk “)
Right. It’s quite possible that Gen. Keith Alexander is telling the truth when he says that the NSA is not mining these data on American citizens, but there’s nothing to stop the Israelis from doing so. The assumption must be that Israel has access to American’s emails and internet usage—very useful for all kinds of reasons, including providing ammunition for those who would destroy anti-Zionists, providing insider information in financial transactions, stealing technology, etc. When someone like Gen. David Petraeus, who had been targeted by the ADL for his statements on Israel, is suddenly compromised by leaked emails to his mistress, it’s not surprising that people are wondering at the involvement of the Lobby.
The Haaretz article continues:
Israeli companies are particularly vulnerable to such suspicions [of spying] because they have such close ties to the country’s security establishment.
“Graduates of the IDF’s technology units and those who have worked in other security bodies have created business opportunities for themselves based in no small part on their previous employment,” said Udi Shani, a former Defense Ministry director general, at the Herzliya Conference last March.
That’s one way to say it. But it’s also quite reasonable that the MOSSAD decided to allow its programmers to use the technology created for MOSSAD’s Unit 8200 and then set up companies that would be able to secure foreign contracts which would be impossible for MOSSAD itself to secure for obvious reasons. Indeed, “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.”
MOSSAD doesn’t seem too worried about its technology falling into the hands of its ex-employees. In other words, these companies are likely to be MOSSAD operations in all but name.
And in the U.S., because of the power of the Israel Lobby, there would be no outcry in the media, from politicians, or even from the defense establishment when an Israeli company is awarded a contract to do the spying for the NSA. James Petras says as much:
The domestic spy apparatus operates with impunity because of its network of powerful domestic and overseas allies. The entire bi-partisan Congressional leadership is privy to and complicit with its operations. Related branches of government, like the Internal Revenue Service, cooperate in providing information and pursuing targeted political groups and individuals. Israel is a key overseas ally of the National Security Agency, as has been documented in the Israeli press (Haaretz, June 8, 2013). Two Israeli high tech firms (Verint and Narus) with ties to the Israeli secret police (MOSSAD), have provided the spy software for the NSA and this, of course, has opened a window for Israeli spying in the US against Americans opposed to the Zionist state. The writer and critic, Steve Lendman points out that Israeli spymasters via their software “front companies” have long had the ability to ‘steal proprietary commercial and industrial data” with impunity . And because of the power and influence of the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish organizations, Justice Department officials have ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases to be dropped. The tight Israeli ties to the US spy apparatus serves to prevent deeper scrutiny into its operation and political goals – at a very high price in terms of the security of US citizens. In recent years two incidents stand out: Israeli security ‘experts’ were contracted to advise the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security in their investigation and ‘Stasi-like’ repression of government critics and environmental activists (compared to ‘al Queda terrorists’ by the Israelis) – the discovery of which forced the resignation of OHS Director James Powers in 2010. In 2003, New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevy appointed his lover, an Israeli government operative and former IDF officer, to head that state’s ‘Homeland Security Department and later resigned, denouncing the Israeli, Golan Cipel, for blackmail in late 2004. These examples are a small sample illustrating the depth and scope of Israeli police state tactics intersecting in US domestic repression.
From hearing media accounts of NSA spying, the only data on Americans that are collected are the times of phone calls and the identities of the parties in the phone call. But, as noted above, the data collected go well beyond that to include “email accounts, Internet chats, browsing and search histories.” Another Israeli company mentioned in the Haaretz article with very broad-based spying capabilities is NICE, yet another Israeli company with close ties to the Israeli government. NICE “has technology that is used to monitor some 1.5 billion people. In a brochure published by the company itself, it describes how its system can analyze conversations (including technology to make transcripts of phone calls), and gather and analyze data from public sites. With these tools it can build an intelligence file from millions of communications.” NICE’s website describes itself:
NICE solutions capture interactions, transactions and video surveillance from multiple sources, including telephones, CCTV video feed, emergency services radio communications, emails, chat, social media, and more.
In other words, pretty much all communications can be monitored and, if you represent a threat to the people with access to these operations, you must assume that you are being monitored. (I know of no evidence that the NSA employs NICE.) Although the company claims that its operations are aimed at “customers, criminals and terrorists, or fraudsters,” it’s not at all far-fetched to be suspicious that the information obtained could be used in a very wide range of operations, including insider information on financial affairs. Sailer suggests that fear of having conversations recorded may account for the concentration of elites in urban centers like Washington, DC and New York, and he pointedly links to his previous article on Jewish wealth, implying that insider information is a key to Jewish wealth. However, even voice conversations are susceptible to NICE’s technology. And the other side of the coin is that it would not be at all surprising to learn that Jewish trading networks are privy to information obtained by companies like NICE.
The situation with the NSA is yet another example of what it means to have a Jewish elite in the U.S.: Jewish spies who deliver vital computer programs to Israel are not indicted. And despite a long history of aggressive spying against the U.S., the NSA hires Israeli firms to do its data collection, with nary a word heard in Congress or the media about the obvious problems that presents.
It’s good to be king.
- Snowden: Don’t mention the I-Word! (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The New York Times’ “public editor” writes a little piece that asks an interesting question in the title:
Following Up on the N.S.A. Revelations: Were They Really ‘Confirmations’?
By MARGARET SULLIVAN
She lists various articles over the last eight years that recounted much of what Edward Snowden said. For example, James Bamford has been covering the NSA since his 1982 book The Puzzle Palace. Bamford regularly discloses interesting information in Wired, such as the revelations of the more central NSA whistleblower William Binney.
And there were plenty of disclosures about telephone metadata snooping going back to Carl Cameron’s four-part Fox series in 2001.
No doubt there are lots of reason Snowden got so much publicity, but let me mention a subtle one. Unlike Bamford, Binney, Cameron and many others who have looked into snooping in America, Snowden, as far as I can tell, has never mentioned the I-Word: Israel.
Generally, anybody who looks into NSA questions pretty quickly notices that the NSA outsourced some spying on Americans to Israelis, and that, by now, the question of which country is the dog and which country is the tail has gotten murky. For example, here’s a 2012 Wired article by Bamford:
But that’s not the kind of thing that the media or, to be frank, the great majority of the American public wants to think about. We’ve all been socialized to shut our brains off when it comes to this tail wagging the dog question. Cameron got to keep his job at Fox, for example, but his series got erased from the official record.
Snowden, in contrast, has kept things nice and neat for people. Everybody seems to have a nice strong opinion about Snowden in part because he hasn’t set off the mental shutdown process that the I-Word provokes in well-trained Americans.
The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says. — Wired Magazine, April 2012
Last week, in Wired Magazine, noted author James Bamford reported on an expansive $2 billion “data center” being built by the NSA in Utah that will house an almost unimaginable amount of data on its servers, along with the world’s fastest supercomputers. Part of the purpose of this new center, according to Bamford, is to store “all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”
In the Wired article, Bamford interviewed former NSA official William Binney, a “crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network.” Binney further shed light on the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, first exposed by the New York Times in 2005 and the subject of EFF’s long running suit Jewel v. NSA, which challenges the constitutionality of the NSA’s program.
The NSA claims it only has access to emails and phone calls of non-U.S. citizens overseas, but Binney provides more detail to the many previous reports by the New York Times, USA Today, New Yorker, and many more that the program indeed targets US based email records. In the 11 years since 9/11, Binney estimates 15 to 20 trillion “transactions” have been collected and stored by the NSA. From the Wired article:
He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”
The Director of NSA, General Keith Alexander, testified at a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) grilled him on the details of the Wired story. He appeared to deny the main points of the article, including that the NSA was intercepting emails, phone calls, Google searches, and phone records of individuals in the United States—as well as the technical capabilities of the program’s software described by Binney. But perhaps more strangely, Alexander also seemed to claim the NSA did not have the technical ability to collect Americans’ emails and Internet traffic even if it weren’t required to get a warrant:
Gen. Alexander: In the United States we’d have to go through the FBI process, a warrant to get that and serve it to somebody to actually get it.
Rep. Johnson: But you do have the capability of doing it?
Gen. Alexander: Not in the United States.
Rep. Johnson: Not without a warrant?
Gen. Alexander: We don’t have the technical insights in the United States, in other words, you have to have something to intercept or some way of doing that. Either by going to a service provider with a warrant, or you have to be collecting in that area. We’re not authorized to collect, nor do we have the equipment in the United States to actually collect that kind of information. (emphasis ours)
In our lawsuits, EFF has provided evidence that the NSA operated a monitoring center out of AT&T’s switching facility in San Francisco that has the ability to do exactly what Gen. Alexander says the NSA can’t. In light of all the evidence, it is hard to take comfort from Gen. Alexander’s apparent denial. In previous discussions of the warrantless wiretapping program, the government has used crabbed and unusual definitions of words to make misleading statements that also seem like denials but turn out to be largely word games.
In one prominent example, then Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden said in a 2006 statement: “Let me talk for a few minutes also about what this program is not. It is not a driftnet over Dearborn or Lackawanna or Freemont grabbing conversations…” Later, when confronted with evidence of a wider drift net program during his confirmation hearing, he explained “I pointedly and consciously downshifted the language I was using. When I was talking about a drift net over Lackawanna or Freemont or other cities, I switched from the word ‘communications’ to the much more specific and unarguably accurate ‘conversation.’”
Notably, the NSA’s interpretation of what it means to “collect” communications seems to be quite limited. Under Department of Defense regulations, information is considered to be “collected” only after it has been “received for use by an employee of a DoD intelligence component,” and “[d]ata acquired by electronic means is ‘collected’ only when it has been processed into intelligible form[,]” So, under this definition, if the communications of millions of ordinary Americans were gathered and stored indefinitely in Utah, it would not be “collected” until the NSA “officially accepts, in some manner, such information for use within that component.”
The illegality of warrantless wiretapping, however, does not depend on when the NSA officially accepts the information or processes it into intelligible form (whatever that means). Americans’ privacy and constitutional protections do and should not hinge on word games. We are looking forward to establishing, in the Jewel v. NSA case, a simpler proposition: that the government can’t spy on anyone, much less everyone, without a warrant.
RTAmerica on March 23, 2012
Recently a report by Wired magazine revealed the details of a spy center in Bluffdale, Utah. It says that the National Security Agency has turned its surveilance apparatus on the US and its citizens, including phone calls and emails. This week the NSA chief testified to Congress and took questions about his agency’s ability – both legally and physically – to spy on US citizens and denied that this is happening. Trevor Timm, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation believes otherwise – he brings his take on the issue.