21 March 2002: See Drug Enforcement Agency 60-page report on "Suspicious
Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities:"
29 December 2001: Thanks to Anonymous:
An article in Insight magzaine from May 2000 seems to be the first
major coverage of Israeli spying on the US described in the Fox News reports
The authors researched it for a year. This Insight article was discussed
in the June 2000 issue of the Washington Report:
and the next month Washington Report discusses the press's coverage
of the Insight article:
[So, as a result of the Insight article Fox News reported on Israeli
spying in May 2000, well before the reports cited below. The first
Washington Report article above provides a Fox News URL for coverage
of the issue
but that URL is now dead.]
24 December 2001
Fox News Series on Israeli Spying on US Telecommunications
Fox News, beginning mid-December, reported a four-part series on alleged
Israeli spying on the US telecommunication systems through firms which provide
telephone billing and assist FBI wiretaps. Recently the series was withdrawn
by Fox News without explanation. The series has been recovered from private
archives for publication here.
When the series first appeared it seemed to be another case of Israel bashing,
in particular the parts that rehashed years-old allegations (we've linked
to a 1996 GAO report cited by Fox, and other alleged participants' Web sites).
And the series may well be calculated disinformation, if not by Fox then
by its sources.
However, Fox's unexplained yanking the series is worth noting. Except for
a few comments on the Net, there has been no mainline media follow-up on
the reason for the yank. If Fox found that the reports are in error, that
is the sort of thing that usually brings heat from competitors. If the withdrawal
was due to government intervention that would indeed be news, but hardly
unprecedented these days. If the yank was due to private intervention that
too would be worth learning about -- who, when, why.
Here are comments on the series by Ronald Rivest, a premier US cryptographer
and security scientist:
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 10:41:33 -0500
From: "Ronald L. Rivest" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Israeli compromise of U.S. telecommunications?
I found the following four-part report by Carl Cameron rather shocking:
Why should we be freely giving to Israeli corporations information (call
records, CALEA information) that requires court orders to obtain in this
country? Such information is obviously sensitive, and the well-motivated
efforts to strengthen and protect our national infrastructure should reasonably
include mandating that such information not be routinely handled by any foreign
A more recent story indicates that the compromise was probably severe; criminals
were escaping detection because of the compromise:
This vindicates concerns many of us have expressed over the years about creating
single points of failure in wiretapping systems (e.g. the vulnerability of
key escrow, etc.). Of course, in this case the vulnerability was
intentionally created, it seems, by giving critical capabilities to foreign
Ronald L. Rivest
Room 324, 200 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02139
Tel 617-253-5880, Fax 617-258-9738, Email <email@example.com>
Note: Links within reports added by Cryptome.
Thanks to MB.
Part 1 of 4
[No date available.]
(File no longer available on 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 Sept. 11. Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron
has details in the first of a four-part series.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Since Sept. 11, more than 60 Israelis
have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism
law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military
were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the
detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance
activities against and in the United States.
There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks,
but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence
about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator
said there are "tie-ins." But when asked for details, he flatly refused to
describe them, saying, "evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified.
I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified
Fox News has learned that one group of Israelis, spotted in North Carolina
recently, is suspected of keeping an apartment in California to spy on a
group of Arabs who the United States is also investigating for links to
terrorism. Numerous classified documents obtained by Fox News indicate that
even prior to Sept. 11, as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained or
arrested in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage
by Israelis in the United States.
Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a working group
that's been compiling evidence since the mid '90s. These documents detail
hundreds of incidents in cities and towns across the country that investigators
say, "may well be an organized intelligence gathering activity."
The first part of the investigation focuses on Israelis who say they are
art students from the University of Jerusalem and Bazala Academy. They repeatedly
made contact with U.S. government personnel, the report says, by saying they
wanted to sell cheap art or handiwork.
Documents say they, "targeted and penetrated military bases." The DEA, FBI
and dozens of government facilities, and even secret offices and unlisted
private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel. The majority
of those questioned, "stated they served in military intelligence, electronic
surveillance intercept and or explosive ordinance units."
Another part of the investigation has resulted in the detention and arrests
of dozens of Israelis at American mall kiosks, where they've been selling
toys called Puzzle Car and Zoom Copter. Investigators suspect a front.
Shortly after The New York Times and Washington Post reported the Israeli
detentions last months, the carts began vanishing. Zoom Copter's Web page
says, "We are aware of the situation caused by thousands of mall carts being
closed at the last minute. This in no way reflects the quality of the toy
or its salability. The problem lies in the operators' business policies."
Why would Israelis spy in and on the U.S.? A general accounting office
investigation referred to Israel as country A and said,
"According to a U.S. intelligence agency, the government of country A conducts
the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any U.S. ally."
A defense intelligence report said Israel has a voracious appetite for
information and said, "the Israelis are motivated by strong survival instincts
which dictate every possible facet of their political and economical policies.
It aggressively collects military and industrial technology and the U.S.
is a high priority target."
The document concludes: "Israel possesses the resources and technical capability
to achieve its collection objectives."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy here in Washington issued a denial saying
that any suggestion that Israelis are spying in or on the U.S. is "simply
not true." There are other things to consider. And in the days ahead, we'll
take a look at the U.S. phone system and law enforcement's methods
for wiretaps. And an investigation that both have been compromised by our
HUME: Carl, what about this question of advanced knowledge of what was going
to happen on 9/11? How clear are investigators that some Israeli agents may
have known something?
CAMERON: It's very explosive information, obviously, and there's a great
deal of evidence that they say they have collected none of it necessarily
conclusive. It's more when they put it all together. A bigger question, they
say, is how could they not have know? Almost a direct quote.
HUME: Going into the fact that they were spying on some Arabs, right?
HUME: All right, Carl, thanks very much.
Thanks to I.
Part 2 of 4
(File no longer available on Fox News.)
Could information that fell into an Israeli-based private communications
company impeded the Sept. 11 inquiry
BRIT HUME, HOST: Last time we reported on the approximately 60 Israelis who
had been detained in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorism investigation.
Carl Cameron reported that U.S. investigators suspect that some of these
Israelis were spying on Arabs in this country, and may have turned up information
on the planned terrorist attacks back in September that was not passed on.
Tonight, in the second of four reports on spying by Israelis in the U.S.,
we learn about an Israeli-based private communications company, for whom
a half-dozen of those 60 detained suspects worked. American investigators
fear information generated by this firm may have fallen into the wrong hands
and had the effect of impeded the Sept. 11 terror inquiry. Here's Carl Cameron's
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Fox News has learned that some American terrorist investigators fear certain
suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them,
by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone.
By obtaining and analyzing data that's generated every time someone in the
U.S. makes a call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What city and state, please?
CAMERON: Here's how the system works. Most directory assistance calls,
and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone
companies by Amdocs Ltd.,
an Israeli-based private telecommunications company.
Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and
more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines
are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones
without generating an Amdocs record of it.
In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated
Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied
any security breaches or wrongdoing. But sources tell Fox News that
in 1999, the super secret National Security Agency, headquartered in northern
Maryland, issued what's called a Top Secret sensitive compartmentalized
information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States
were getting into foreign hands in Israel, in particular.
Investigators don't believe calls are being listened to, but the data about
who is calling whom and when is plenty valuable in itself. An internal
Amdocs memo to senior company executives suggests just how Amdocs generated
call records could be used. Widespread data mining techniques
and algorithms.... combining both the properties of the customer (e.g.,
credit rating) and properties of the specific
. Specific behavior, such as who the customers
The Amdocs memo says the system should be used to prevent phone fraud. But
U.S. counterintelligence analysts say it could also be used to spy through
the phone system. Fox News has learned that the N.S.A has held numerous
classified conferences to warn the F.B.I. and C.I.A. how Amdocs records could
be used. At one NSA briefing, a diagram by the Argon national lab was
used to show that if the phone records are not secure, major security breaches
Another briefing document said, "It has become increasingly apparent that
systems and networks are vulnerable.
Such crimes always involve unauthorized
persons, or persons who exceed their authorization...citing on exploitable
Those vulnerabilities are growing, because according to another briefing,
the U.S. relies too much on foreign companies like Amdocs for high-tech equipment
and software. "Many factors have led to increased dependence on code
developed overseas.... We buy rather than train or develop solutions."
U.S. intelligence does not believe the Israeli government is involved in
a misuse of information, and Amdocs insists that its data is secure. What
U.S. government officials are worried about, however, is the possibility
that Amdocs data could get into the wrong hands, particularly organized crime.
And that would not be the first thing that such a thing has happened. Fox
News has documents of a 1997 drug trafficking case in Los Angeles, in which
telephone information, the type that Amdocs collects, was used to "completely
compromise the communications of the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEA and
We'll have that and a lot more in the days ahead Brit.
HUME: Carl, I want to take you back to your report last night on those
60 Israelis who were detained in the anti-terror investigation, and the suspicion
that some investigators have that they may have picked up information on
the 9/11 attacks ahead of time and not passed it on.
There was a report, you'll recall, that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence
agency, did indeed send representatives to the U.S. to warn, just before
9/11, that a major terrorist attack was imminent. How does that leave
room for the lack of a warning?
CAMERON: I remember the report, Brit. We did it first internationally
right here on your show on the 14th. What investigators are saying
is that that warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and general, and they
believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what
are called sources and methods in the intelligence community. The suspicion
being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in
the United States.
The question came up in select intelligence committee on Capitol Hill today.
They intend to look into what we reported last night, and specifically that
HUME: So in other words, the problem wasn't lack of a warning, the
problem was lack of useful details?
CAMERON: Quantity of information.
HUME: All right, Carl, thank you very much
Thanks to JM.
Part 3 of 4
(File no longer available on Fox News.)
Friday, December 14, 2001
This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, Dec. 13, was provided
by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete
Part 3 of 4
BRIT HUME, HOST: 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
Infosys [lawful interception solutions], 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 [sic, probably Comverse] 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
indicates several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too
many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap
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.
Thanks to I.
Part 4 of 4
(File no longer available on Fox News.)
TONY SNOW, HOST: This week, senior correspondent Carl Cameron has reported
on a longstanding government espionage investigation. Federal officials
this year have arrested or detained nearly 200 Israeli citizens suspected
of belonging to an "organized intelligence-gathering operation." The
Bush administration has deported most of those arrested after Sept. 11, although
some are in custody under the new anti-terrorism law.
Cameron also investigates the possibility that an Israeli firm generated
billing data that could be used for intelligence purpose, and describes concerns
that the federal government's own wiretapping system may be
vulnerable. Tonight, in part four of the series, we'll learn about the
probable roots of the probe: a drug case that went bad four years ago in
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Angeles, 1997,
a major local, state and federal drug investigating sours. The
suspects: Israeli organized crime with operations in New York, Miami,
Las Vegas, Canada, Israel and Egypt. The allegations: cocaine and ecstasy
trafficking, and sophisticated white-collar credit card and computer
The problem: according to classified law enforcement documents obtained by
Fox News, the bad guys had the cops beepers, cell phones, even home
phones under surveillance. Some who did get caught admitted to having
hundreds of numbers and using them to avoid arrest.
"This compromised law enforcement communications between LAPD detectives
and other assigned law enforcement officers working various aspects of the
case. The organization discovered communications between organized crime
intelligence division detectives, the FBI and the Secret Service."
Shock spread from the DEA to the FBI in Washington, and then the CIA. An
investigation of the problem, according to law enforcement documents, concluded,
"The organization has apparent extensive access to database systems to identify
pertinent personal and biographical information."
When investigators tried to find out where the information might have come
from, they looked at Amdocs, a publicly traded firm based in Israel. Amdocs
generates billing data for virtually every call in America, and they do credit
checks. The company denies any leaks, but investigators still fear that
the firm's data is getting into the wrong hands.
When investigators checked their own wiretapping system for leaks, they grew
concerned about potential vulnerabilities in the computers that intercept,
record and store the wiretapped calls. A main contractor is Comverse
Infosys, which works closely with the Israeli government, and under a special
grant program, is reimbursed for up to 50 percent of its research and development
costs by Israel's Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Asked this week about another sprawling investigation and the detention of
60 Israeli since Sept. 11, the Bush administration treated the questions
like hot potatoes.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would just refer you to
the Department of Justice with that. I'm not familiar with the report.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm aware that some Israeli citizens
have been detained. With respect to why they're being detained and
the other aspects of your question whether it's because they're in
intelligence services, or what they were doing I will defer to the
Department of Justice and the FBI to answer that.
CAMERON: Beyond the 60 apprehended or detained, and many deported since
Sept. 11, another group of 140 Israeli individuals have been arrested and
detained in this year in what government documents describe as "an
organized intelligence gathering operation," designed to "penetrate government
facilities." Most of those individuals said they had served in the Israeli
military, which is compulsory there.
But they also had, most of them, intelligence expertise, and either worked
for Amdocs or other companies in Israel that specialize in
wiretapping. Earlier this week, the Israeli embassy in Washington denied
any spying against or in the United States Tony.
SNOW: Carl, we've heard the comments from Ari Fleischer and Colin
Powell. What are officials saying behind the scenes?
CAMERON: Well, there's real pandemonium described at the FBI,
the DEA and the INS. A lot of these problems have been well known to
some investigators, many of who have contributed to the reporting on
this story. And what they say is happening is supervisors and management
are now going back and collecting much of the information, because
there's tremendous pressure from the top levels of all of those agencies
to find out exactly what's going on.
At the DEA and the FBI already a variety of administration reviews
are under way, in addition to the investigation of the
phenomenon. They want to find out how it is all this has come out,
as well as be very careful because of the explosive nature and very
political ramifications of the story itself Tony.
SNOW: All right, Carl, thanks.
Economic Espionage: Information
on Threat from U.S. Allies (Testimony, 02/28/96, GAO/T-NSIAD-96-114).
-------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 0:1.1
According to a U.S. intelligence agency, the government of Country A
conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United
States of any U.S. ally. Classified military information and
sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the
intelligence agencies of this country. Country A seeks this
information for three reasons: (1) to help the technological
development of its own defense industrial base, (2) to sell or trade
the information with other countries for economic reasons, and (3) to
sell or trade the information with other countries to develop
political alliances and alternative sources of arms. According to a
classified 1994 report produced by a U.S. government interagency
working group on U.S. critical technology companies,\2 Country A
routinely resorts to state-sponsored espionage using covert
collection techniques to obtain sensitive U.S. economic information
and technology. Agents of Country A collect a variety of classified
and proprietary information through observation, elicitation, and
The following are intelligence agency examples of Country A
information collection efforts:
An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization
responsible for collecting scientific and technological
information for Country A paid a U.S. government employee to
obtain U.S. classified military intelligence documents.
Several citizens of Country A were caught in the United States
stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery
Agents of Country A allegedly stole design plans for a classified
reconnaissance system from a U.S. company and gave them to a
defense contractor from Country A.
A company from Country A is suspected of surreptitiously monitoring
a DOD telecommunications system to obtain classified information
for Country A intelligence.
Citizens of Country A were investigated for allegations of passing
advanced aerospace design technology to unauthorized scientists
Country A is suspected of targeting U.S. avionics, missile
telemetry and testing data, and aircraft communication systems
for intelligence operations.
It has been determined that Country A targeted specialized software
that is used to store data in friendly aircraft warning systems.
Country A has targeted information on advanced materials and
coatings for collection. A Country A government agency
allegedly obtained information regarding a chemical finish used
on missile reentry vehicles from a U.S. person.
\2 Report on U.S. Critical Technology Companies, Report to Congress
on Foreign Acquisition of and Espionage Activities Against U.S.
Critical Technology Companies (1994).