Progressive Calendar 03.15.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 2009 06:13:36 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.15.09

1. Atheists/AM950      3.15 9am
2. Stillwater vigil    3.15 1pm
3. Amnesty Intl        3.15 3pm
4. Single payer/Canada 3.15 3pm
5. RNC8 defense        3.15 4pm
6. YAWR benefit        3.15 5pm
7. Seward housing      3.15 5:30pm
8. Salvador elections  3.15 6pm
9. Bicking campaign    3.15 6pm

10. FOI award          3.16 1pm
11. Peace walk         3.16 6pm RiverFalls WI
12. Oxfam Action       3.16 7pm
13. Gordon campaign    3.16 7pm

14. Christopher Ketcham - Israeli spying in the United States

--------1 of 14--------

From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Atheists/AM950 3.15 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show.
Sunday, March 15, 2009, 9-10 a.m. Central Time

"America Losing Religion - And Morality?"

On this week's show we're going to try something different.  We'll have a
discussion between an atheist and a Christian about the current state of
morality in this country.  Is the decline of religion really leading to a
loss of moral values, as the Religious Right claims?  Is America going to
hell in a handbasket?  Join us for what promises to be a lively debate
between August Berkshire, past president of Minnesota Atheists, and Robert
Dull of The Pearlygate Network.

We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205
or radio [at] MinnesotaAtheists.org.

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen.

Podcasts of past shows are available at
http://MinnesotaAtheists.org or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at http://MinnesotaAtheists.org.


--------2 of 14--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 3.15 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to
<http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560


--------3 of 14--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 3.15 3pm

GROUP 37 MARCH MEETING REMINDER: SUNDAY, MARCH 15 - 3 TO 5 P.M.
Join us for our regular meeting on Sunday, March 15th, from 3:00 to 5:00
p.m. We will share actions on human rights cases around the world and get
updates on the work of our sub-groups. All are welcome, and refreshments
will be provided.

Location: Center for Victims of Torture, 717 E. River Rd. SE, Minneapolis
(corner of E. River Rd. and Oak St.). Park on street or in the small lot
behind the center (the Center is a house set back on a large lawn).

A map and directions are available on-line:
http://www.twincitiesamnesty.org/meetings.html


--------4 of 14--------

From: "Of the People" <info [at] jamesmayer.org>
Subject: Single payer/Canada 3.15 3pm

Join in THE CONVERSATION.  TUNE YOUR RADIO TO:
Of the People this Sunday, March 15 at 3 p.m. on AM950 KTNF (formerly Air
America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer.  Or stream us:
http://www.am950ktnf.com/listen

Join us for the 5th program of our series of broadcasts about REAL
Universal Health care with Sen. Mary A. Olson (DFL) District 4 as she and
host James Mayer discuss factual information about our current health care
system versus Single Payer Universal Health Care and how people can
persuade themselves and others to spread the word about and push for this
crucial, promising, and urgently needed legislation.

Sen. Olson has in-the-field, observational knowledge of the Canadian
system, which is truly single payer, and the perspective of the Canadian
people. This activist senator has some key roles in health care reform
actions in Minnesota and in other states including her interaction on
health care reform with state legislators around the country.

She will debrief about her fact finding in Canada, as well as talk with us
about how one can and should become better informed about the deceptive,
confusing nature of our current health care "system" as a key part of
motivation and mobilization for achieving true Universal Health Care. She
will also show how real Single Payer Health Care for everybody would be
the most effective and immediately tangible step to achieve economic
recovery.


--------5 of 14--------

From: info [at] rnc8.org
Subject: RNC8 defense 3.15 4pm

The next meeting of the RNC 8 DEFENSE COMMITTEE is right around the corner.
Please make your plans now to attend.

Sunday, March 15
4:00 p.m.
Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

There is a lot going on and we need YOU to be part of the important work
to raise awareness about the RNC 8, challenge the MN Patriot Act, and
defend the right to dissent.  We promise you a productive meeting with
tangible outcomes.  See you there!

WORKING GROUPS: There will be a meeting for representatives of each
working group at 3:30 p.m. that day at Walker to allow us to improve
communications between working groups and formulate a coordinating
committee. Please send one or two representatives from your working group.

Also, watch for details soon on events for the upcoming National Day of
Solidarity with the RNC 8 on March 28: http://rnc8.org/M28


--------6 of 14--------

Subject: YAWR benefit 3.15 5pm

Sunday, March 15
YAWR Benefit and Burn All Flags EP Release Show
5:00 p.m.
Eclipse Records, 1922 University Avenue West, St. Paul

Join Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR) and help build up to the upcoming
citywide demonstration against the wars in Iraq and attend the "Burn All
Flags" (featuring YAWR members).

EP Release show at the same time. The line-up includes: "Burn All Flags,"
"Corporate Distortion," "Rocksteady Breakfast," "Born for the Gallows,"
and Tyrus A of "2 Tone Runts."

There will also be a sign-making, "chant practice" and a few short
speeches at the concert to prepare for the youth contingent on the March
21st anti-war demonstration.

All ages welcome. Admission: $5.00.
Endorsed by: WAMM.
Sponsored by: YAWR.


--------7 of 14--------

From: Michael Bischoff <michael [at] clarityfacilitation.com>
Subject: Seward housing 3.15 5:30pm

Forum on Affordable, Supportive Housing in Seward, Sunday, March 15,
5:30 - 6:25 pm at Faith Mennonite Church (2720 E. 22nd St., Mpls)
The Community of St. Martin is offering an Adult Education session about a
new affordable housing project that is proposed in the Seward
neighborhood.

Please come join this discussion to learn more about this project. MICAH,
the Metropolitan Interfaith Council for Affordable Housing, will be
presenting a program on the impact of the housing crisis on our
neighborhoods along with a brief legislative update on housing and
foreclosure bills. This presentation will be tied to the Bystrom site
Franklin LRT Redevelopment planned by Seward Redesign. Currently, a
partnership of Project for Pride in Living and Touchstone are proposing 40
units of permanent supportive housing in the first phase of this four-acre
parcel redevelopment. Come to discuss current housing issues and the great
potential in this critical transit oriented development right in the
Seward neighborhood.

Michael Bischoff Faith Mennonite Church 612-521-1889


--------8 of 14--------

From: "[ISO-8859-1] Marco Dávila" <maidaca85 [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Salvador elections 3.15 6pm

Hello companeros and companeras: the fmln committee is inviting you to
celebrate the presidential elections in El Salvador. In this event, we
will be taking phone calls from different parts of El Salvador and we are
going to watch (OR "will be watching") the whole elections process via
Internet.

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN ABOUT THE EL SALVADOR ELECTIONS.


We are going to have live music with La Revolucion Guanaka, Juanito
Figueroa From Colombia and DJ Mastervison.

MARCH 15
6PM- 9PM  GATHERING
9PM-12PM PARTY.
PLACE: NORELIOUS HALL, 463 MARIA AVE AND SEVENTH STREET BY THE METROPOLITAN
STATE UNIVERSITY.
INVITE YOUR FRIENDS.. SPREAD THE WORD.


--------9 of 14--------

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at] colorstudy.com>
Subject: Bicking campaign 3.15 6pm

Dave Bicking for City Council campaign meeting:
Sunday, March 15, 6:00pm
Dave's house:  3211 22nd Ave. S. (lower duplex), Minneapolis
(Directions: Just over two blocks south of Lake St. on 22nd Ave.  22nd
Avenue is just west of the Lake Street stop of the Hiawatha LRT.  There is
also good bus service along Lake St.)

The major political attention has been focused on the DFL races during the
last two weeks:  their precinct caucuses on March 3rd, and their 9th ward
convention this coming Saturday.  By the time of the meeting, we will know
who, if anyone, the DFL has endorsed for 9th Ward City Council.

For a more fair and compassionate city,
Dave Bicking 612-276-1213


--------10 of 14--------

From: Laura Waterman Wittstock <lwmpls [at] visi.com>
Subject: FOI Award 3.16 1pm

From Helen Burke:

The Library Foundation of Hennepin County joins the Minnesota
Coalition on Government Information in co-sponsoring the annual John
R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award ceremony. The award will be
presented on Monday, March 16 from 1-2 PM at the Minneapolis Central
Library. Details are now on the Library Foundation of Hennepin
Countys website and included in its monthly mailing.


--------11 of 14--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 3.16 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------12 of 14--------

From: Oxfam Action Corps - MN <minnesota [at] oxfamactioncorps.org>
Subject: Oxfam Action 3.16 7pm

On the 3rd Monday of each month, we gather to plan our nonpartisan
grassroots activities. We've successfully organized events, lobbied
policymakers, and have used sheer creativity to stand up for meaningful
change. We meet at 7pm the unique Common Roots Café (2558 Lyndale Ave. S.,
Minneapolis).


--------13 of 14--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at] msn.com>
Subject: Gordon campaign 3.16 7pm

We meet from 7 - 9 at the Blue Moon Cafe on East Lake Street and 39th Ave.
Monday, March 16, 7 - 9 pm


--------14 of 14--------

Full-Spectrum Penetration
Israeli Spying in the United States
By CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM
March 12, 2009
CounterPunch

Scratch a counterintelligence officer in the U.S. government and they'll
tell you that Israel is not a friend to the United States. This is because
Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks
targeting the U.S..

The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject
oft-discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the
extreme sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship coupled with the
burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to
criticize the Jewish state.  The void where the facts should sit is filled
instead with the hallucinations of conspiracy theory - the kind in which,
for example, agents of the Mossad, Israel's top intelligence agency,
engineer the 9/11 attacks, while 4,000 Israelis in the Twin Towers somehow
all get word to escape before the planes hit.  The effect, as disturbing
as it is ironic, is that the less the truth is addressed, the more noxious
the falsity that spreads.

Israel's spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and
neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence.  When the
FBI produces its annual report to Congress concerning "Foreign Economic
Collection and Industrial Espionage," Israel and its intelligence services
often feature prominently as a threat second only to China. In 2005 the
FBI noted, for example, that Israel maintains "an active program to gather
proprietary information within the United States."  A key Israeli method,
said the FBI report, is computer intrusion.  In 1996, the Defense
Intelligence Service, a branch of the Pentagon, issued a warning that "the
collection of scientific intelligence in the United States [is] the third
highest priority of Israeli Intelligence after information on its Arab
neighbors and information on secret U.S. policies or decisions relating to
Israel."

In 1979, the Central Intelligence Agency produced a scathing survey of
Israeli intelligence activities that targeted the U.S. government.  Like
any worthy spy service, Israeli intelligence early on employed wiretaps as
an effective tool, according to the CIA report.  In 1954, the U.S.
Ambassador in Tel Aviv discovered in his office a hidden microphone
"planted by the Israelis," and two years later telephone taps were found
in the residence of the U.S. military attach.  In a telegram to
Washington, the ambassador at the time cabled a warning: "Department must
assume that all conversations [in] my office are known to the Israelis."
The former ambassador to Qatar, Andrew Killgore, who also served as a
foreign officer in Jerusalem and Beirut, told me Israeli taps of U.S.
missions and embassies in the Middle East were part of a "standard
operating procedure."

According to the 1979 CIA report, the Israelis, while targeting political
secrets, also devote "a considerable portion of their covert operations to
obtaining scientific and technical intelligence." These operations
involved, among other machinations, "attempts to penetrate certain
classified defense projects in the United States."  The penetrations,
according to the CIA report, were effected using "deep cover enterprises,"
which the report described as "firms and organizations, some specifically
created for, or adaptable to, a specific objective."  At the time, the CIA
singled out government-subsidized companies such as El Al airlines and
Zim, the Israeli shipping firm, as deep cover enterprises.

Other deep cover operations included the penetration of a U.S. company
that provided weapons-grade uranium to the Department of Defense during
the 1960s; Israeli agents eventually spirited home an estimated 200 pounds
of uranium as the bulwark in Israel's secret nuclear weapons program.
Moles have burrowed on Israel's behalf throughout the U.S. intelligence
services.  Perhaps most infamous was the case of Jonathan Pollard, a
Jewish-American employed as a civilian analyst with the U.S. Navy who
purloined an estimated 800,000 code-word protected documents from inside
the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and numerous other U.S.
agencies.

While Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, counterintelligence
investigators at the FBI suspected he was linked to a mole far higher in
the food chain, ensconced somewhere in the DIA, but this suspected Israeli
operative, nicknamed "Mr. X," was never found.  Following the
embarrassment of the Pollard affair - and its devastating effects on U.S.
national security, as testified by then Defense Secretary Caspar
Weinberger (who allegedly stated that Pollard "should have been shot") -
the Israeli government vowed never again to pursue espionage against its
ally and chief benefactor.

Fast-forward a quarter century, and the vow has proven empty.  In 2004,
the authoritative Jane's Intelligence Group noted that Israel's
intelligence organizations "have been spying on the U.S. and running
clandestine operations since Israel was established."  The former deputy
director of counterintelligence at FBI, Harry B. Brandon, last year told
Congressional Quarterly magazine that "the Israelis are interested in
commercial as much as military secrets. They have a muscular technology
sector themselves."  According to CQ, "One effective espionage tool is
forming joint partnerships with U.S. companies to supply software and
other technology products to U.S. government agencies."

Best-selling author James Bamford now adds another twist in this history
of infiltration in a book published last October, "The Shadow Factory,"
which forms the latest installment in his trilogy of investigations into
the super-secret National Security Agency.  Bamford is regarded among
journalists and intelligence officers as the nation's expert on the
workings of the NSA, whose inner sanctums he first exposed to the public
in 1982. (So precise is his reporting that NSA officers once threw him a
book party, despite the fact that he continually reveals their secrets.)

The agency has come a long way in the half-century since its founding in
1952.  Armed with digital technology and handed vast new funding and an
almost limitless mandate in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bamford writes,
the NSA has today "become the largest, most costly, and most
technologically sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known."
The NSA touches on every facet of U.S. communications, its mega-computers
secretly filtering "millions of phone calls and e-mails" every hour of
operation.  For those who have followed the revelations of the NSA's
"warrantless wiretapping" program in the New York Times in 2005 and the
Wall Street Journal last year, what Bamford unveils in "The Shadow
Factory" is only confirmation of the worst fears: "There is now the
capacity," he writes of the NSA's tentacular reach into the private lives
of Americans, "to make tyranny total."

Much less has been reported about the high-tech Israeli wiretapping firms
that service U.S. telecommunications companies, primarily AT&T and
Verizon, whose networks serve as the chief conduits for NSA surveillance.
Even less is known about the links between those Israeli companies and the
Israeli intelligence services.  But what Bamford suggests in his book
accords with the history of Israeli spying in the U.S.: Through joint
partnerships with U.S. telecoms, Israel may be a shadow arm of
surveillance among the tentacles of the NSA.  In other words, when the NSA
violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure to
vacuum up the contents of your telephone conversations and e-mail traffic,
the Israeli intelligence services may be gathering it up too - a kind of
mirror tap that is effectively a two-government-in-one violation.

***

On its face, the overseas outsourcing of high-tech services would seem de
rigueur in a competitive globalized marketplace.  Equipment and services
from Israel's telecom sector are among the country's prime exports,
courtesy of Israeli entrepreneurs who have helped pioneer wireless
telephony, voicemail and voice recognition software, instant messaging,
phone billing software, and, not least, "communications interception
solutions."  Israeli telecom interception hardware and software is
appraised as some of the best in the world.

By the mid-1990s, Israeli wiretap firms would arrive in the U.S. in a big
way.  The key to the kingdom was the 1994 Communications Assistance for
Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was Congress' solution for wiretapping
in the digital age.  Gone are the days when wiretaps were conducted
through on-site tinkering with copper switches.  CALEA mandated that
telephonic surveillance operate through computers linked directly into the
routers and hubs of telecom companies - a spyware apparatus matched in
real-time, all the time, to American telephones and modems.  CALEA
effectively made spy equipment an inextricable ligature in telephonic
life.  Without CALEA, the NSA in its spectacular surveillance exploits
could not have succeeded.

AT&T and Verizon, which together manage as much as 90 percent of the
nation's communications traffic, contracted with Israeli firms in order to
comply with CALEA.  AT&T employed the services of Narus Inc., which was
founded in Israel in 1997.  It was Narus technology that AT&T
whistleblower Mark Klein, a 22-year technician with the company, famously
unveiled in a 2006 affidavit that described the operations in AT&T's
secret tapping room at its San Francisco facilities.  (Klein's affidavit
formed the gravamen of a lawsuit against AT&T mounted by the Electronic
Freedom Foundation, but the lawsuit died when Congress passed the telecom
immunity bill last year.)  According to Klein, the Narus supercomputer,
the STA 6400, was "known to be used particularly by government
intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts
of data looking for preprogrammed targets."  The Narus system, which was
maintained by Narus technicans, also provided a real-time mirror image of
all data streaming through AT&T routers, an image to be rerouted into the
computers of the NSA.

According to Jim Bamford, who cites knowledgeable sources, Verizon's
eavesdropping program is run by a competing Israeli firm called Verint, a
subsidiary of Comverse Technology, which was founded by a former Israeli
intelligence officer in 1984.  Incorporated in New York and Tel Aviv,
Comverse is effectively an arm of the Israeli government: 50 percent of
its R&D costs are reimbursed by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and
Trade.  The Verint technology deployed throughout Verizon's network, known
as STAR-GATE, boasts an array of Orwellian capabilities.  "With STAR-GATE,
service providers can access communications on virtually any type of
network," according to the company's literature.  "Designed to manage vast
numbers of targets, concurrent sessions, call data records, and
communications, STAR-GATE transparently accesses targeted communications
without alerting subscribers or disrupting service."

As with the Narus system, the point is to be able to tap into
communications unobtrusively, in real time, all the time.  A Verint
spinoff firm, PerSay, takes the tap to the next stage, deploying "advanced
voice mining," which singles out "a target's voice within a large volume
of intercepted calls, regardless of the conversation content or method of
communication."  Verint's interception systems have gone global since the
late 1990s, and sales in 2006 reached $374 million (a doubling of its
revenues over 2003).  More than 5,000 organizations - mostly intelligence
services and police units - in at least 100 countries today use Verint
technology.

What troubles Bamford is that executives and directors at companies like
Narus and Verint formerly worked at or maintain close connections with the
Israeli intelligence services, including Mossad; the internal security
agency Shin Bet; and the Israeli version of the NSA, Unit 8200, an arm of
the Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Corps.  Unit 8200, which Bamford
describes as "hypersecret," is a key player in the eavesdropping
industrial complex in Israel, its retired personnel dispersed throughout
dozens of companies.  According to Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, "Many of
the [eavesdropping] technologies in use around the world and developed in
Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and
improved by [Unit 8200] veterans."  A former commander of Unit 8200, cited
by Bamford, states that Verint technology was "directly influenced by 8200
technology..[Verint parent company] Comverse's main product, the Logger,
is based on the Unit's technology."

The implications for U.S. national security, writes Bamford, are
"unnerving."  "Virtually the entire American telecommunications system,"
he avers, "is bugged by [Israeli-formed] companies with possible ties to
Israel's eavesdropping agency."  Congress, he says, maintains no oversight
of these companies. operations, and even their contracts with U.S.
telecoms - contracts pivotal to NSA surveillance - are considered trade
secrets and go undisclosed in company statements.

U.S. intelligence officers have not been quiet in their concerns about
Verint (I reported on this matter in CounterPunch.org last September).
"Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, and transmitted to U.S.
investigators by Verint, which claims that it has to be "hands on" with
its equipment to maintain the system," says former CIA counterterrorism
officer Philip Giraldi.  The "hands on" factor is what bothers Giraldi,
specifically because of the possibility of a "trojan" embedded in Verint
wiretap software.   A trojan in information security hardware/software is
a backdoor that can be accessed remotely by parties who normally would not
have access to the secure system.

Allegations of widespread trojan spying have rocked the Israeli business
community in recent years.  "Top Israeli blue chip companies," reported
the AP in 2005, "are suspected of using illicit surveillance software to
steal information from their rivals and enemies."  Over 40 companies have
come under scrutiny.  "It is the largest cybercrime case in Israeli
history," Boaz Guttmann, a veteran cybercrimes investigator with the
Israeli national police, told me.  "Trojan horse espionage is part of the
way of life of companies in Israel.  It's a culture of spying."

In a wide-ranging four-part investigation into Israel-linked espionage
that aired in December 2001, Carl Cameron, a correspondent at Fox News
Channel, reported the distress among U.S. intelligence officials warning
about possible trojans cached in Verint technology.  Sources told Cameron
that "while various FBI inquiries into [Verint] have been conducted over
the years," the inquiries had "been halted before the actual equipment has
ever been thoroughly tested for leaks."  Cameron also cited a 1999
internal FCC document indicating that "several government agencies
expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement
personnel can access the wiretap system."  Much of this access was
facilitated through "remote maintenance."

The Fox News report reverberated throughout U.S. law enforcement,
particularly at the Drug Enforcement Agency, which makes extensive use of
wiretaps for narcotics interdiction. Security officers at DEA, an adjunct
of the Justice Department, began examining the agency's own relationship
with Comverse/Verint.  In 1997, DEA had transformed its wiretap
infrastructure with the $25 million procurement from Comverse/Verint of a
technology called "T2S2" - "translation and transcription support
services" - with Comverse/Verint contracted to provide the hardware and
software.  The company was also tasked with "support services, training,
upgrades, enhancements and options throughout the life of the contract,"
according to the DEA's "contracts and acquisitions" notice.  In the wake
of the Fox News investigation, however, the director of security programs
at DEA, Heidi Raffanello, was rattled enough to issue an internal
communique on the matter, dated Dec. 18, 2001.  Directly referencing Fox
News, she worried that "Comverse remote maintenance" was "not addressed in
the C&A [contracts and acquisitions] process..It remains unclear if
Comverse personnel are security cleared, and if so, who are they and what
type of clearances are on record..Bottom line we should have caught it."
It is not known what resulted from DEA's review of the issue of remote
maintenance and access by Comverse/Verint.

Bamford devotes a portion of his argument to the detailing of the
operations of a third Israeli wiretap company, NICE Systems, which he
describes as "a major eavesdropper in the U.S." that "keeps its government
and commercial client list very secret."  Formed in 1986 by seven veterans
of Unit 8200, NICE software "captures voice, email, chat, screen activity,
and essential call details," while offering "audio compression technology
that performs continuous recordings of up to thousands of analog and
digital telephone lines and radio channels."  NICE Systems has on at least
one occasion shown up on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence.  During
2000-2001, when agents at the FBI and the CIA began investigating
allegations that Israeli nationals posing as "art students" were in fact
conducting espionage on U.S. soil, one of the Israeli "art students" was
discovered to be an employee with NICE Systems.  Among the targets of the
art students were facilities and offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency
nationwide. The same Israeli employee of NICE Systems, who was identified
as a former operative in the Israeli intelligence services, was carrying a
disk that contained a file labeled "DEA Groups."  U.S. counterintelligence
officers concluded it was a highly suspicious nexus: An Israeli national
and alleged spy was working for an Israeli wiretap company while carrying
in his possession computer information regarding the Drug Enforcement
Agency - at the same time this Israeli was conducting what the DEA
described as "intelligence gathering" about DEA facilities.

***

A former senior counterintelligence official in the Bush administration
told me that as early as 1999, "CIA was very concerned about [Israeli
wiretapping companies]" - Verint in particular.  "I know that CIA has
tried to monitor what the Israelis were doing - technically watch what
they were doing on the networks in terms of remote access.  Other
countries were concerned as well," said the intelligence official.  Jim
Bamford, who notes that Verint "can automatically access the
mega-terabytes of stored and real-time data secretly and remotely from
anywhere," reports that Australian lawmakers in 2004 held hearings on this
remote monitoring capability. "[Y]ou can access data from overseas," the
lawmakers told a Verint representative during the hearings, "but [the
legislature] seems restricted to access data within that system."  The
Australians found this astonishing.

In 2000, the Canadian intelligence service, the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police, conducted "a probe related to allegations that [Israeli] spies
used rigged software to hack into Canada's top secret intelligence files,"
according to an article in the Toronto Star.  Several sources in the U.S.
intelligence community told me the Canadians liaised with their American
counterparts to try to understand the problem.

According to the Bush administration official who spoke with me, "the
Dutch also had come to the CIA very concerned about what the Israelis were
doing with this."  The Dutch intelligence service, under contract with
Verint, "had discovered strange things were going on - there was activity
on the network, the Israelis uploading and downloading stuff out of the
switches, remotely, and apparently using it for their own wiretap
purposes.  The CIA was very embarrassed to say, 'We have the same
problem'.  But the CIA didn't have an answer for them.  'We hear you,
we're surprised, and we understand your concern'."

Indeed, sources in the Dutch counterintelligence community in 2002 claimed
there was "strong evidence that the Israeli secret service has
uncontrolled access to confidential tapping data collected by the Dutch
police and intelligence services," according to the Dutch broadcast radio
station Evangelische Omroep (EO). In January 2003, the respected Dutch
technology and computing magazine, C.T, ran a follow-up to the EO story,
headlined "Dutch Tapping Room not Kosher." The article states: "All
tapping equipment of the Dutch intelligence services and half the tapping
equipment of the national police force [is] insecure and is leaking
information to Israel."

"The key to this whole thing is that Australian meeting," Bamford told me
in a recent interview. "They accused Verint of remote access and Verint
said they won't do it again - which implies they were doing it in the
past.  It's a matter of a backdoor into the system, and those backdoors
should not be allowed to exist.  You can tell by the Australian example
that it was certainly a concern of Australian lawmakers."

Congress doesn't seem to share the concern.  "Part of the responsibility
of Congress," says Bamford, "is not just to oversee the intelligence
community but to look into the companies with which the intelligence
community contracts.  They're just very sloppy about this."  According to
the Bush administration intelligence official who spoke with me,
"Frustratingly, I did not get the sense that our government was stepping
up to this and grasping the bull by the horns."  Another former high level
U.S. intelligence official told me, "The fact of the vulnerability of our
telecom backbone is indisputable.  How it came to pass, why nothing has
been done, who has done what - these are the incendiary questions."
There is also the fundamental fact that the wiretap technologies
implemented by Verint, Narus and other Israeli companies are fully in
place and no alternative is on the horizon.  "There is a technical path
dependence problem," says the Bush administration official. "I have been
told nobody else makes software like this for the big digital switches, so
that is part of the problem.  Other issues," he adds, "compound the
problem" - referring to the sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

And that, of course, is the elephant in the room.  "Whether it's a
Democratic or Republican administration, you don't bad-mouth Israel if you
want to get ahead," says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip
Giraldi.  "Most of the people in the agency were very concerned about
Israeli espionage and Israeli actions against U.S. interests. Everybody
was aware of it.  Everybody hated it.  But they wouldn't get promoted if
they spoke out.  Israel has a privileged position and that's the way
things are.  It's crazy.  And everybody knows it's crazy."

Christopher Ketcham is working on a book about the dissolution of the
United States and its replacement by bioregional republics.  He can be
reached at cketcham99 [at] mindspring.com

This article originally appeared on Alternet.

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