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How Israel helps eavesdrop on US citizens  3 November 2008

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, order cheap confido online the United States government launched a massive program to spy on millions of its own citizens. Order cheap confido online

Through the top secret National Security Agency (NSA), order cheap confido online it has pursued "access to billions of private hard-line, order cheap confido online cell, order cheap confido online and wireless telephone conversations; text, order cheap confido online e-mail and instant Internet messages;

Web-page histories, order cheap confido online faxes, order cheap confido online and computer hard drives."

In his new book, order cheap confido online The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America author James Bamford casts light on this effort, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

The known uses to which information obtained this way has been put include building the government's massive secret "watch lists, order cheap confido online" and "no-fly lists" and even, order cheap confido online Bamford suggests, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

Verint and Narus, order cheap confido online as they are called, order cheap confido online are "superintrusive -- conducting mass surveillance on both international and domestic communications 24/7, order cheap confido online" 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, order cheap confido online which Bamford describes as "the eavesdropping capital of the world."

Although there is no way to prove cooperation, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

The relationship is particularly close between the firms and Israel's own version of the NSA, order cheap confido online called "Unit 8200."

After the 11 September attacks, order cheap confido online Israeli companies seeking a share of massively expanded US intelligence budgets formed similarly incestuous relationships with some in the American intelligence establishment: Ken Minihan, order cheap confido online a former director of the NSA, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

At the same time that the tappers and the agents have grown uncomfortably close, order cheap confido online the previous checks and balances, order cheap confido online such as the need for a FISA warrant, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

In 2005, order cheap confido online it was revealed that the Bush administration had been flagrantly violating this law. Order cheap confido online

Last July, order cheap confido online 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, order cheap confido online American lawmakers and officials are not always so relaxed when it comes to foreign intrusion in the "national security" sphere. Order cheap confido online In early 2006, order cheap confido online there was a national uproar when Dubai Ports World, order cheap confido online a global company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), order cheap confido online 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, order cheap confido online claiming it would harm national security. Order cheap confido online Senator Barack Obama echoed many in both parties when he said at the time, order cheap confido online "Over four years after the worst terrorist attack in our history, order cheap confido online not only are we failing to inspect 95 percent of the cargo that arrives at US ports, order cheap confido online 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, order cheap confido online although there was never an allegation that the country's government or Dubai Ports World were involved in that. Order cheap confido online

The newspaper also cited claims that "Abdul Qadeer Khan, order cheap confido online the rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist, order cheap confido online sent equipment to Libya and Iran through Dubai, order cheap confido online" even though it also acknowledged that "port managers have little if anything to do with inspecting cargo or checking manifests" ("Reaping What You Sow, order cheap confido online" Editorial, order cheap confido online 24 February 2006).

Unlike the UAE, order cheap confido online however, order cheap confido online Israel has a well-established record of compromising American national security. Order cheap confido online

The most notorious case was that of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Order cheap confido online Although the full details of his crimes are still secret, order cheap confido online he is thought to have passed critical information about US intelligence-gathering methods to Israel, order cheap confido online which then traded those secrets to US adversaries. Order cheap confido online In 2005, order cheap confido online Larry Franklin, order cheap confido online a Defense Department analyst, order cheap confido online pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. Order cheap confido online

Most recently, order cheap confido online Ben-Ami Kadish, order cheap confido online a retired US army engineer, order cheap confido online was indicted in April for allegedly passing classified documents about US nuclear weapons to Israel from 1979 to 1985. Order cheap confido online

Two former officials of AIPAC, order cheap confido online the pro-Israel lobbying group, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, order cheap confido online the former Israeli intelligence officer who founded Verint, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online

Alexander eventually adopted a fake identity and hid in the southern African country of Namibia where he is now fighting extradition. Order cheap confido online 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, order cheap confido online of course. Order cheap confido online Another Israeli firm, order cheap confido online Natural Speech Communication (NSC), order cheap confido online among whose directors is former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, order cheap confido online makes software that the US uses to electronically analyze and key-word search recorded conversations in "Levantine Arabic, order cheap confido online" the dialects "spoken by Israeli Arabs, order cheap confido online Jordanians, order cheap confido online Lebanese and Palestinians." Mexico and Australia are among other countries known to use Israeli technologies and firms to eavesdrop on their citizens.

Not surprisingly, order cheap confido online some of Bamford's claims have been criticized by pro-Israel activists for lacking evidence. Order cheap confido online Writing about a subject shrouded in secrecy is inherently difficult. Order cheap confido online

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. Order cheap confido online

In his 2001 book Body of Secrets, order cheap confido online 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. Order cheap confido online Thirty-four sailors were killed in the attack on the ship off the Sinai coast. Order cheap confido online Despite decades of demands by USS Liberty survivors, order cheap confido online the US has never reopened the investigation.

So far Bamford's latest revelations involving Israel have had scarcely more impact. Order cheap confido online

Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey gave The Shadow Factorya mostly glowing review in The Washington Post. Order cheap confido online But Kerrey, order cheap confido online who was a member of the 9/11 Commission and is president of The New School University in New York, order cheap confido online 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, order cheap confido online "Big Brother's Big Failure, order cheap confido online" 12 October 2008).

When any material that raises legitimate questions about Israeli actions is automatically discounted by US elites, order cheap confido online and the motives of critics immediately cast under suspicion, order cheap confido online it is no wonder Israel gets away with so much.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, order cheap confido online Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli- Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, order cheap confido online 2006). Order cheap confido online