Israel Is Spying In And On The U.S.?
Part 3 of a 4 Part Series
FROM FOX NEWS
BRIT HUME, HOST: It has been more than 16 years since a civilian working for the Navy was charged with passing secrets to Israel. Jonathan Pollard pled guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and is serving a life sentence. At first, Israeli leaders claimed Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but later took responsibility for his work.
Now Fox News has learned some U.S. investigators believe that there are Israelis again very much engaged in spying in and on the U.S., who may have known things they didn't tell us before September 11. Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron has details in the first of a four-part series.
Published: 12/12/01 FOX News. Part 3 of a 4 part
Part 1 -
Part 2 - Part 3 -
These items have since been removed from the FOX News web site:
Carl Cameron Investigates Part 3
: Comverse, CALEA, Israel and the terror investigation
Author: Carl Cameron
HUME: Last time we reported on an Israeli-based
company called Amdocs Ltd. that generates the computerized records
and billing data for nearly every phone call made in America. As
Carl Cameron reported, U.S. investigators digging into the 9/11
terrorist attacks fear that suspects may have been tipped off to
what they were doing by information leaking out of Amdocs.
In tonight's report, we learn that the concern about
phone security extends to another company, founded in Israel, that
provides the technology that the U.S. government uses for electronic
eavesdropping. Here is Carl Cameron's third report.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The company is
Comverse Infosys, a subsidiary of an Israeli-run private
telecommunications firm, with offices throughout the U.S. It
provides wiretapping equipment for law enforcement. Here's how
wiretapping works in the U.S.
Every time you make a call, it passes through the nation's elaborate
network of switchers and routers run by the phone companies. Custom
computers and software, made by companies like Comverse, are tied
into that network to intercept, record and store the wiretapped
calls, and at the same time transmit them to investigators.
The manufacturers have continuing access to the computers so they
can service them and keep them free of glitches. This process was
authorized by the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement
Act, or CALEA. Senior government officials have now told Fox News
that while CALEA made wiretapping easier, it has led to a system
that is seriously vulnerable to compromise, and may have undermined
the whole wiretapping system.
Indeed, Fox News has learned that Attorney General John Ashcroft and
FBI Director Robert Mueller were both warned Oct. 18 in a
hand-delivered letter from 15 local, state and federal law
enforcement officials, who complained that "law enforcement's
current electronic surveillance capabilities are less effective
today than they were at the time CALEA was enacted."
Congress insists the equipment it installs is secure. But the
complaint about this system is that the wiretap computer programs
made by Comverse have, in effect, a back door through which wiretaps
themselves can be intercepted by unauthorized parties.
Adding to the suspicions is the fact that in Israel, Comverse works
closely with the Israeli government, and under special programs,
gets reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development
costs by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. But
investigators within the DEA, INS and FBI have all told Fox News
that to pursue or even suggest Israeli spying through Comverse is
considered career suicide.
And sources say that while various F.B.I. inquiries into Comverse
have been conducted over the years, they've been halted before the
actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks. A 1999
F.C.C. document indicates several government agencies expressed deep
concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel
can access the wiretap system. And the FBI's own nondescript office
in Chantilly, Virginia that actually oversees the CALEA wiretapping
program, is among the most agitated about the threat.
But there is a bitter turf war internally at F.B.I. It is the FBI's
office in Quantico, Virginia, that has jurisdiction over awarding
contracts and buying intercept equipment. And for years, they've
thrown much of the business to Comverse. A handful of former U.S.
law enforcement officials involved in awarding Comverse government
contracts over the years now work for the company.
Numerous sources say some of those individuals were asked to leave
government service under what knowledgeable sources call
"troublesome circumstances" that remain under administrative review
within the Justice Department.
And what troubles investigators most, particularly in New York, in
the counter terrorism investigation of the World Trade Center
attack, is that on a number of cases, suspects that they had sought
to wiretap and survey immediately changed their telecommunications
processes. They started acting much differently as soon as those
supposedly secret wiretaps went into place – Brit.
HUME: Carl, is there any reason to suspect in this instance that the
Israeli government is involved?
CAMERON: No, there's not. But there are growing instincts in an
awful lot of law enforcement officials in a variety of agencies who
suspect that it had begun compiling evidence, and a highly
classified investigation into that possibility – Brit.
HUME: All right, Carl. Thanks very much.
Content and Programming Copyright 2001 Fox News Network