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How Israel helps eavesdrop on US citizens  3 November 2008

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, find hairball chews cats no rx required the United States government launched a massive program to spy on millions of its own citizens. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Through the top secret National Security Agency (NSA), find hairball chews cats no rx required it has pursued "access to billions of private hard-line, find hairball chews cats no rx required cell, find hairball chews cats no rx required and wireless telephone conversations; text, find hairball chews cats no rx required e-mail and instant Internet messages;

Web-page histories, find hairball chews cats no rx required faxes, find hairball chews cats no rx required and computer hard drives."

In his new book, find hairball chews cats no rx required The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America author James Bamford casts light on this effort, find hairball chews cats no rx required including a detailed account of how spying on American citizens has been outsourced to several companies closely linked to Israel's intelligence services.

It is well-known that the two largest American telecom companies AT&T and Verizon collaborated with the US government to allow illegal eavesdropping on their customers. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

The known uses to which information obtained this way has been put include building the government's massive secret "watch lists, find hairball chews cats no rx required" and "no-fly lists" and even, find hairball chews cats no rx required Bamford suggests, find hairball chews cats no rx required to deny Small Business Administration loans to citizens or reject their children's applications to military colleges.

What is less well-known is that AT&T and Verizon handed "the bugging of their entire networks -- carrying billions of American communications every day" to two companies founded in Israel. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Verint and Narus, find hairball chews cats no rx required as they are called, find hairball chews cats no rx required are "superintrusive -- conducting mass surveillance on both international and domestic communications 24/7, find hairball chews cats no rx required" 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, find hairball chews cats no rx required which Bamford describes as "the eavesdropping capital of the world."

Although there is no way to prove cooperation, find hairball chews cats no rx required 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. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

The relationship is particularly close between the firms and Israel's own version of the NSA, find hairball chews cats no rx required called "Unit 8200."

After the 11 September attacks, find hairball chews cats no rx required Israeli companies seeking a share of massively expanded US intelligence budgets formed similarly incestuous relationships with some in the American intelligence establishment: Ken Minihan, find hairball chews cats no rx required a former director of the NSA, find hairball chews cats no rx required served on Verint's "security committee" and the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 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. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

At the same time that the tappers and the agents have grown uncomfortably close, find hairball chews cats no rx required the previous checks and balances, find hairball chews cats no rx required such as the need for a FISA warrant, find hairball chews cats no rx required have been eliminated."

FISA -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 -- required the government to seek court warrants for wiretaps where at least one target was in the US. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

In 2005, find hairball chews cats no rx required it was revealed that the Bush administration had been flagrantly violating this law. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Last July, find hairball chews cats no rx required Congress passed a bill legalizing this activity and giving retroactive immunity to the telecom companies that had assisted.

Although there has never been any congressional oversight of the Israeli intelligence-linked firms operating in the heart of the US security establishment, find hairball chews cats no rx required American lawmakers and officials are not always so relaxed when it comes to foreign intrusion in the "national security" sphere. Find hairball chews cats no rx required In early 2006, find hairball chews cats no rx required there was a national uproar when Dubai Ports World, find hairball chews cats no rx required a global company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), find hairball chews cats no rx required attempted to buy the business that manages six major American seaports.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers united against the Bush administration's approval of the sale, find hairball chews cats no rx required claiming it would harm national security. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Senator Barack Obama echoed many in both parties when he said at the time, find hairball chews cats no rx required "Over four years after the worst terrorist attack in our history, find hairball chews cats no rx required not only are we failing to inspect 95 percent of the cargo that arrives at US ports, find hairball chews cats no rx required but now we're allowing our port security to be outsourced to foreign governments."

A New York Times editorial justified such alarmism on grounds that "money to finance the 9/11 attacks flowed through" the UAE, find hairball chews cats no rx required although there was never an allegation that the country's government or Dubai Ports World were involved in that. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

The newspaper also cited claims that "Abdul Qadeer Khan, find hairball chews cats no rx required the rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist, find hairball chews cats no rx required sent equipment to Libya and Iran through Dubai, find hairball chews cats no rx required" even though it also acknowledged that "port managers have little if anything to do with inspecting cargo or checking manifests" ("Reaping What You Sow, find hairball chews cats no rx required" Editorial, find hairball chews cats no rx required 24 February 2006).

Unlike the UAE, find hairball chews cats no rx required however, find hairball chews cats no rx required Israel has a well-established record of compromising American national security. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

The most notorious case was that of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Although the full details of his crimes are still secret, find hairball chews cats no rx required he is thought to have passed critical information about US intelligence-gathering methods to Israel, find hairball chews cats no rx required which then traded those secrets to US adversaries. Find hairball chews cats no rx required In 2005, find hairball chews cats no rx required Larry Franklin, find hairball chews cats no rx required a Defense Department analyst, find hairball chews cats no rx required pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Most recently, find hairball chews cats no rx required Ben-Ami Kadish, find hairball chews cats no rx required a retired US army engineer, find hairball chews cats no rx required was indicted in April for allegedly passing classified documents about US nuclear weapons to Israel from 1979 to 1985. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Two former officials of AIPAC, find hairball chews cats no rx required the pro-Israel lobbying group, find hairball chews cats no rx required are still awaiting trial on charges that they passed classified information between Franklin and the Israeli government.

Nor have particular Israeli firms established a record of trustworthiness that would justify such complacency. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, find hairball chews cats no rx required the former Israeli intelligence officer who founded Verint, find hairball chews cats no rx required fled the US to Israel in 2006 just before he and other top executives of a subsidiary were indicted for fraud that allegedly cost US taxpayers and company shareholders $138 million. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Alexander eventually adopted a fake identity and hid in the southern African country of Namibia where he is now fighting extradition. Find hairball chews cats no rx required In only once case did US officials block an Israeli high-tech firm from taking over an American company for security concerns.

Israeli companies do not assist the US only to spy on its own citizens, find hairball chews cats no rx required of course. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Another Israeli firm, find hairball chews cats no rx required Natural Speech Communication (NSC), find hairball chews cats no rx required among whose directors is former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, find hairball chews cats no rx required makes software that the US uses to electronically analyze and key-word search recorded conversations in "Levantine Arabic, find hairball chews cats no rx required" the dialects "spoken by Israeli Arabs, find hairball chews cats no rx required Jordanians, find hairball chews cats no rx required Lebanese and Palestinians." Mexico and Australia are among other countries known to use Israeli technologies and firms to eavesdrop on their citizens.

Not surprisingly, find hairball chews cats no rx required some of Bamford's claims have been criticized by pro-Israel activists for lacking evidence. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Writing about a subject shrouded in secrecy is inherently difficult. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

But even what is solidly known ought to make Americans demand that Israeli intelligence activities (not less than their own government's) be sharply curtailed. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

In his 2001 book Body of Secrets, find hairball chews cats no rx required Bamford contended that Israel's attack on the US Navy signals ship USS Liberty during the June 1967 war was deliberately intended to prevent the Americans from learning about Israeli massacres of Egyptian prisoners of war. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Thirty-four sailors were killed in the attack on the ship off the Sinai coast. Find hairball chews cats no rx required Despite decades of demands by USS Liberty survivors, find hairball chews cats no rx required the US has never reopened the investigation.

So far Bamford's latest revelations involving Israel have had scarcely more impact. Find hairball chews cats no rx required

Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey gave The Shadow Factorya mostly glowing review in The Washington Post. Find hairball chews cats no rx required But Kerrey, find hairball chews cats no rx required who was a member of the 9/11 Commission and is president of The New School University in New York, find hairball chews cats no rx required anxiously discounts Bamford's contentions that the 11 September hijackers in any way "were motivated by anger over an Israeli bombing of Lebanese civilians in 1996" and reassures us their only motive was "radical Islamic fervor."

Kerrey concludes that Bamford's "apparent negativity toward Israel is a significant distraction from the content of his book" (Bob Kerrey, find hairball chews cats no rx required "Big Brother's Big Failure, find hairball chews cats no rx required" 12 October 2008).

When any material that raises legitimate questions about Israeli actions is automatically discounted by US elites, find hairball chews cats no rx required and the motives of critics immediately cast under suspicion, find hairball chews cats no rx required it is no wonder Israel gets away with so much.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, find hairball chews cats no rx required Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli- Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, find hairball chews cats no rx required 2006). Find hairball chews cats no rx required