Israeli Spy Network in the USA
US intelligence uncovers massive Israeli spy ring
U.S. Police and Intelligence Hit by Spy Network
Charles R. Smith
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001
Spies Tap Police and Government Phones
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the FBI has stumbled on
largest espionage ring ever discovered inside the United States. The
Justice Department is now holding nearly 100 Israeli citizens with
ties to foreign military, criminal and intelligence services.
The spy ring reportedly includes employees of two Israeli-owned
that currently perform almost all the official wiretaps for U.S. local,
and federal law enforcement.
The U.S. law enforcement wiretaps, authorized by the Communications
Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), appear to have been breached
organized crime units working inside Israel and the Israeli intelligence
Both Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller were
warned on Oct. 18 in a hand-delivered letter from local, state and
law enforcement officials. The warning stated, "Law enforcement's
electronic surveillance capabilities are less effective today than they
at the time CALEA was enacted."
The spy ring enabled criminals to use reverse wiretaps against U.S.
intelligence and law enforcement operations. The illegal monitoring may
resulted in the deaths of several informants and reportedly spoiled
anti-drug raids on crime syndicates.
Global Spy and Crime Network
The penetration of the U.S. wiretap system has led to a giant spy hunt
the globe by American intelligence agencies. U.S. intelligence officials
suspect the spy ring shared and sold information to other nations.
"Why do you think Putin so nonchalantly and with such great fanfare
the shutdown of the Lourdes listening post in Cuba?" noted Douglas
president of Multilingual Data Solutions Inc. and program director at
Nathan Hale Institute.
"Besides the PR benefit right before his visit here, the Russians don't
it anymore. They've scraped together a cheaper, more effective
system. Is the Israeli company an element of that system? I don't know,"
"With all the whining and crying about Echelon and Carnivore, critics,
domestic and foreign, of U.S. electronic eavesdropping vastly
our abilities to process and disseminate the stuff," noted Brown.
"The critics also underestimated the incompetence and total ineptness of
people running our intelligence and law enforcement services during the
Clinton-Gore years. One guy uses his home computer for storing top
documents; another high-tech guru guy can't figure out how to save and
retrieve his e-mail, and the guy in charge of everything is having phone
over an open line with one of his employees," said Brown.
"On the other hand, the Europeans, including the Russians, have been
more focused on the nuts and bolts of practical systems to process the
information they scoop up. The stories linking German intelligence and
L&H scandal got very little play here but were widely noted in the
software community," said Brown.
"Except for a few Germans and an occasional Pole, nobody can match the
Russians in designing and developing algorithms. We may have some of the
world's greatest programmers, but the Russians and Europeans do a better
of matching up linguists and area experts with their programmers," noted
The discovery of a major spy ring inside the United States is straining
already tense relations with Israel. Although, Israel denied any
with the penetration of the U.S. wiretap system, the CIA and FBI are
investigating the direct government ties to the former Israeli military
intelligence officials now being held by the Justice Department.
Israeli Company Provides U.S. Wiretaps
One company reported to be under investigation is Comverse Infosys, a
subsidiary of an Israeli-run private telecommunications firm. Comverse
provides almost all the wiretapping equipment and software for U.S. law
Custom computers and software made by Comverse are tied into the U.S.
network in order to intercept, record and store wiretapped calls, and at
same time transmit them to investigators.
The penetration of Comverse reportedly allowed criminals to wiretap law
enforcement communications in reverse and foil authorized wiretaps with
advance warning. One major drug bust operation planned by the Los
police was foiled by what now appear to be reverse wiretaps placed on
enforcement phones by the criminal spy ring.
Flawed laws Led to Compromise
Several U.S. privacy and security advocates contend the fault actually
in the CALEA legislation passed by Congress that allowed the spy ring to
operate so effectively. Lisa Dean, vice president for technology policy
Free Congress Foundation, delivered a scathing critique of the breach of
U.S. law enforcement wiretap system.
"We are exercising our 'I told you so' rights on this," said Dean.
"From the beginning, both the political right and left warned Congress
the FBI that they were making a huge mistake by implementing CALEA. That
would jeopardize the security of private communications, whether it's
a mother and her son or between government officials. The statement just
issued by law enforcement agencies has confirmed our worst fears,"
"How many more 9/11s do we have to suffer?" asked Brad Jansen, deputy
director for technology policy at the Free Congress Foundation.
"The CALEA form of massive surveillance is a poor substitute for real
enforcement and intelligence work. It is an after-the-fact method of
fighting. It is not designed to prevent crime. Massive wiretapping does
equal security. Instead, we have elected to jeopardize our national
in exchange for poor law enforcement," said Jansen.
"For example, FINCEN monitoring of all money transactions did not detect
al-Qaeda, nor did it find Mohamed Atta before he boarded his last
was an ATM receipt left in his rental car that led the FBI to the bin
bank accounts," noted Jansen.
U.S. National Security Compromised
"The CALEA approach is the same approach law enforcement has been
a number of years. It's the same approach that was used to push
Magic Lantern, FINCEN and even the failed Clipper project. This approach
leads to a compromise in national security and in personal security for
American public," said Jansen.
"In addition, there is always government abuse of these kinds of
stated Jansen. "Law enforcement on all levels does a very poor job in
policing itself. We need to hold our police and government officials to
"This also hurts the U.S. economy when the whole world knows that our
communication systems are not secure. We cannot compete with inferior
products when other countries are exporting secure software and
Zealand, India and Chili already offer security products that actually
provide real security," stated Jansen.
"The current mentality of law enforcement is what failed to protect us
9/11. CALEA wiretaps will not protect us from terror attacks in the
The system does not provide better intelligence information. It actually
leads to less security and more crime. We get the worst of both worlds,"
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