Israeli Wiretappers, the NSA, and 9/11
Sunday, January 04, 2009
(James Bamford has done another great deed for the public by revealing the extent of the NSA’s wiretapping on U.S. soil, and how the NSA sub-contracts the vast majority of its work to Israeli high-tech firms bristling with “former” Israeli military intelligence agents, and in the case of Verint, a company with serious corruption issues. It was Bamford who popularized the existence of Operation Northwoods in his 2001 book, Body of Secrets. In The Shadow Factory, he sheds light in the secret rooms of Verizon and AT&T, and shows the NSA to be a very poor custodian of the nation’s security.)
Bamford Brings the Goods
On October 14, 2008, James Bamford talked about some of the shocking research in his new book on Democracy Now!, with Amy Goodman:
Along with the mass surveillance being conducted on all U.S. users of AT&T and Verizon by Narus and Verint, (according to Bamford), two other Israeli-owned companies, Amdocs and NICE Systems, have their fingers in the wiretapping pie as well.
Christopher Ketcham preceded Bamford in September, with with the article “Trojan
Horse,” that focuses on Verint, Amdocs, and CALEA (the legislation which
brought all of these problems into existence):
“Together, Verint and Amdocs form part of the backbone of the government’s domestic intelligence surveillance technology. Both companies are based in Israel — having arisen to prominence from that country’s cornering of the information technology market — and are heavily funded by the Israeli government, with connections to the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence (both companies have a long history of board memberships dominated by current and former Israeli military and intelligence officers). Verint is considered the world leader in “electronic interception” and hence an ideal private sector candidate for wiretap outsourcing. Amdocs is the world’s largest billing service for telecommunications, with some $2.8 billion in revenues in 2007, offices worldwide, and clients that include the top 25 phone companies in the United States that together handle 90 percent of all call traffic among US residents. The companies’ operations, sources suggest, have been infiltrated by freelance spies exploiting encrypted trapdoors in Verint/Amdocs technology and gathering data on Americans for transfer to Israeli intelligence and other willing customers (particularly organized crime)…
None of US law enforcement’s problems with Amdocs and Verint could have come to pass without the changes mandated by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which, as noted, sought to lock spyware into telecom networks. CALEA, to cite the literature, requires that terrestrial carriers, cellular phone services and other telecom entities enable the government to intercept “all wire and oral communications carried by the carrier concurrently with their transmission.”
If Ketcham and Bamford are correct, (so far, no lawsuits), then the National “Security” Agency has thrown the “National Security” of the United States under the bus.
Amdocs and NICE
The two companies that should be getting extra scrutiny from 9/11 researchers are Amdocs, and NICE Systems. Both have direct links to 9/11 via the milieu known as the “Israeli DEA Groups.” To date, the best report on the DEA Groups was assembled by retired international lawyer, Gerald Shea; you can download the report from Antiwar.com.
I consider Shea’s report the best so far, because it is high on content, and low on speculation, and, it names names. The content is damning. Consider the following graph from Shea which places the DEA Groups in the same general vicinity as the alleged 9/11 hijackers, in the time period running up to 9/11;
Shea notes the Amdocs and NICE connections in his report:
“Tomer Ben Dor (mentioned above), another Israeli of interest to the DEA, was an employee of Nice-Systems Ltd., an Israeli company specializing in systems and solutions for detecting, locating, monitoring, evaluating and analyzing voice communications and other transmissions from a variety of sources–activities commonly known as wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping. Nice-Systems’ U.S. subsidiary, Nice Systems Inc., is located in Rutherford, New Jersey, adjacent to East Rutherford where five members of the Israeli New Jersey group were arrested on September 11. When Mr. Ben Dor was interrogated by the INS at the DFW Airport in May 2001, an inspection of his bags revealed a printout containing a reference to a file entitled “DEA Groups.”
One member of the Israeli DEA Groups, Michal Gal, who was arrested in Irving, Texas,18 was released on a $10,000 cash bond posted by Ophir Baer, an employee of Amdocs, Inc. an Israeli telecommunications firm with operations in the United States. The Amdocs employee described Mr. Gal as a “relative”.
Shea makes a distinction between the DEA Groups, and the New Jersey Group detained on 9/11, where two of the five Israelis arrested were later identified as Mossad agents. The Mossad connection was discussed on Democracy Now! in February of 2007:
Shea on the Mossad connection, and some more on Nice systems:
“The vans in the operations of both Israeli Groups were able to move about neighborhoods without raising undue concern. The “art students” in the Israeli DEA Groups were using their vans as sometime door-to-door salesmen. The personnel of Urban Moving Systems, the Mossad front, were ostensibly driving about northeastern New Jersey towns in their van (or vans) to help people move–a familiar suburban sight.
With ample room for personnel and electronic equipment, the vans were ideal vehicles for electronic eavesdropping. The extent to which Nice Systems, the Israeli wiretapping company for which Tomer Ben Dor worked (the Israeli with the reference to “DEA Groups” in his computer files) will be a matter for the public inquiry. Nice Systems was ideally suited to provide equipment and expertise to the Israeli New Jersey Group because its U.S. headquarters were located in Rutherford, New Jersey, near the center of the Group’s operations.“
“The large Israeli firm NICE, like Verint and Narus, is also a major eavesdropper in the U.S., and like the other two, it keeps its government and commercial client list very secret. A key member of the Wiretappers’ Ball, it was formed in 1986 by seven veterans of Unit 8200, according to the company’s founder, Benny Levin. “We were seven people from the Unit,” he said, “we all worked on a project for more than four years, we knew each other very well. We had very good complementary skills.” Like a page out of Orwell, all their high-tech bugging systems are called “Nice”. Nice Perform, for example, “provides voice content analysis with features such as: word spotting, emotion detection, talk pattern analysis, and state-of-the-art visualization techniques.” Nice Universe “captures voice, email, chat, screen activity, and essential call details.” Nice Log offers “audio compression technology that performs continuous recordings of up to thousands of analog and digital telephone lines and radio channels.” And Nice VoIP “can use both packet sniffing and active recording methods for recording VoIP sessions (both by telephone and internet).”*
“Former” Israeli military intelligence personnel are scattered throughout the high-tech wiretapping industry. And this fact, (along with Bamford’s new book), prompted Israeli journalist Yossi Melman to ask this rhetorical question in Haaretz, “Is Israel’s booming high-tech industry a branch of the Mossad?”
NSA Domestic Spying Began Before 9/11
The NSA’s domestic spying operation began no later than February, 2001:
“Within eleven (11) days of the onset of the Bush administration, and at least seven (7) months prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, defendant ATT began development of a center for monitoring long distance calls and internet transmissions and other digital information for the exclusive use of the NSA.
The center was put into development by ATT following a proposal by the NSA for the construction and development of a network operations center identical to ATT’s own network operations center located in Bedminster, New Jersey for the exclusive use of the NSA.
The NSA proposal was accepted by the ATT sales division and referred to ATT Solutions, an ATT project development division situated in Florham Park, New Jersey…
Said data center would enable the NSA to tap into any phone line and to monitor any digital transfer of information on ATT’s networks including voice telephone calls, facsimile transmission and all internet traffic.”
The NSA’s early 2001 involvement with expanded domestic wiretapping is confirmed by the former CEO of Qwest:
“Defendant Joseph P. Nacchio … respectfully renews his objection to the Court’s rulings excluding testimony surrounding his February 27, 2001 meeting at Ft. Meade with representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA) as violative of his constitutional right to mount a defense. Although Mr. Nacchio is allowed to tell the jury that he and James Payne went into that meeting expecting to talk about the “Groundbreaker” project and came out of the meeting with optimism about the prospect for 2001 revenue from NSA, the Court has prohibited Mr. Nacchio from eliciting testimony regarding what also occurred at that meeting. [REDACTED] The Court has also refused to allow Mr. Nacchio to demonstrate that the agency retaliated for this refusal by denying the Groundbreaker and perhaps other work to Qwest.
By being prevented from telling his full story to the jury or from fully and properly cross-examining any rebuttal witnesses, Mr. Nacchio has been deprived of the ability to explaoin why – after he came out of the February meeting with a reasonable, good faith, expectation that Qwest would be receiving significant contracts from NSA in 2001 … Qwest was denied significant work…
There was a feeling also, that the NSA acted as agents for other government agencies and if Qwest frustrated the NSA, they would also frustrate other agencies.
As this clip featuring Bamford on Charlie Rose shows (1984), the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community in general would be the “other agencies” in question:
The DEA began to receive reports about the Israelis in January of 2001, with peak activity by the Groups occurring in February and March of 2001:
“In January, 2001, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Security Programs (IS), began to receive reports of Israeli art students attempting to penetrate several DEA Field Offices in the continental United States. Additionally, there have been reports of Israeli art students visiting the homes of numerous DEA employees. These incidents have occurred since at least the beginning of 2000, and have continued to the present. The number of reported incidents increased in November/December 2000, and has continued to date. These incidents have involved several other law enforcement and Department of Defense agencies, with contacts made at other agencies’ facilities and the residences of their employees. Geographically, these incidents are very widespread, ranging from California to Florida. The majority of the incidents have occurred in the southern half of the continental U.S. with the most activity reported in the state of Florida. Since April 2001, the number of reported incidents has declined, however, the geographic spread of the incidents has increased to Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles.
The activities of these Israeli art students raised the suspicion of IS and other field offices when attempts were made to circumvent the access control systems at DEA offices, and when these individuals began to solicit their paintings at the homes of DEA employees. The nature of the individuals’ conduct, combined with intelligence information and historical information regarding past incidents involving Israeli Organized Crime, leads IS to believe the incidents may well be an organized intelligence gathering activity. It is believed by IS that these incidents should not be the basis for any immediate concern for the safety and security of DEA personnel, however, employees should continue to exercise due caution in safeguarding information relating to DEA investigations, or activities…
In general, these individuals appear to be organized in teams of 8 to 10 people, with one person described as the “Team Leader”. They are usually encountered in pairs or individually carrying a makeshift art portfolio. Several times, they have, been seen or admitted to being dropped off in an area by the Team Leader, who returns later to pick them up. The females are usually described as very attractive, and all are generally in their early to mid-20s. Most admit to having served in the Israeli Military. This is not surprising given the mandatory military service require in Israel, however, a majority of those questioned has stated they served in military intelligence, electronic signal intercept, or explosive ordinance units. Some have been linked to high-ranking officials in the Israeli military. One was the son of a two-star general, one served as the bodyguard to the head of the Israeli Army, one served in a Patriot missile unit. That these people are now traveling in the U.S. selling art seems not to fit their background.
Their stories are remarkable only in their consistency. At first, they will state that they are art students, either from the University of Jerusalem, or the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem. Other times they will purport to be promoting a new art studio in the area. When pressed for details as to the location of the art studio or why they are selling the paintings, they become evasive. Some claim to be the artist who painted the artwork, others claim they promoting the work of others or of Israel. Information has been received which indicates the art is actually produced in China. When told that they cannot solicit on federal facilities, they will claim that the paintings are not for sale, but that they are soliciting interest in the paintings, either for an art studio or for a future art sale…
When encountered at residences, some of these individuals are persistent in trying to get inside the home. Some have asked to use the telephone when leaving. Some employees have reported that they came only to their house, while others have reported that the students approached the entire neighborhood.”
Why is NONE of this information in the 9/11 Commission Final Report?
Did the NSA sub-contract NICE Systems and other Israeli wiretappers to monitor the alleged 9/11 hijackers? And does this in turn explain why the Israelis were simply deported for “immigration” violations?
How could the Israelis be in such uncanny proximity with the alleged hijackers without MASSIVE foreknowledge of their plans, identities, and locations?
Is possible collusion between NSA and the Israelis only the tip of the iceberg?** And will further digging reveal operational relationships between the Israelis and other U.S. intelligence services or Private Military Contractors (PMCs)?
Is the “Wiretappers” story merely very complex cover for the actual activities of the Israelis, including far more destructive uses of moving vans?
Or, are stories about explosives being linked to the Urban Moving Systems vans clever disinfo to lead away from HUMINT and SIGINT being conducted by the Israelis?
Were the Israelis merely shepherds, keeping an eye on U.S. intel assets, assets that had been tagged for a future activity?
If the Israelis are our friends … why didn’t they stop the hijackers?
Perhaps the quote attributed to one of the New Jersey Israelis explains it best (see Shea’s memo):
“We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.”
* Bamford, James. 2008. The Shadow Factory. New York: DOUBLEDAY.
** See also: The USS Liberty and U.S./Israeli Covert Cooperation.