- In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI
reportedly stumbled on an espionage ring that had penetrated the
system of U.S. law enforcement. Fox News Channel reported that the FBI
was holding nearly 100 Israeli citizens with direct ties to foreign
criminal and intelligence services.
- In a follow-up to these reports, the FBI did not deny
that such actions had been taken. However, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson would
not answer specific questions on the reported espionage.
- "We have seen the Fox News segments that aired
weeks ago on this topic and found some inaccuracies with it. Because they
are sensitive issues, I do not have the luxury of discussing what precisely
was accurate and what was inaccurate about their reporting," stated
Paul Bresson, spokesman for the FBI.
- "Most of the questions [asked by NewsMax.com] are
not directly answerable by CALEA [Communications Assistance for Law
Act]. Your questions may be more properly addressed to our National
Division, which I know would never discuss this with you,
- Employees of U.S. Companies Reportedly
- The espionage operation reportedly includes employees
of two companies that perform official wiretaps for U.S. local, state and
federal law enforcement: Comverse Infosys and Amdocs. Official spokesman
for both companies denied any involvement in the alleged espionage
- "Amdocs is unaware of any investigation or
and has not been contacted by any agency," stated Dan Ginsberg, of
the PR firm Porter Novelli, for Amdocs.
- "Amdocs has not been involved in any illegal or
improper activity," said Ginsberg flatly.
- "We know of absolutely no factual basis for
that intelligence agencies or others have misused our products for illicit
purposes," stated Paul Baker, spokesman for Comverse.
- "In particular, no company employees have been
in any of the incidents referred to in your December 19 story. Moreover,
the reference in that story to a suspected abuse of our equipment in a
foiled Los Angeles drug bust was completely erroneous. Our equipment was
not involved in any such incident," said Baker.
- "Comverse Technology is a New York-based corporation
that has been publicly traded for 15 years. It is an S&P 500 and a
NASDAQ-100 Index company that has won a worldwide leadership position in
telecommunications," noted Baker.
- "More than 10 years ago, Comverse established
Infosys Technology as a separate subsidiary to meet the monitoring
needs of some U.S. customers. This group maintains the high-level security
clearances these customers require," said Baker.
- "In full compliance with U.S. Department of Defense
(DOD) regulations, this subsidiary's operations are completely segregated
from all other Comverse businesses and are insulated from any foreign
- "The board of directors overseeing these operations
consists of former high-level military officers, including two retired
Air Force generals appointed by the DOD. In addition, the DOD monitors
Comverse Infosys Technology's operations to ensure they remain in full
- "All equipment supplied by Comverse complies with
all applicable government security requirements. The notion that 'backdoor'
access has been built into the systems is absurd. For more than 10 years,
these systems have been sold to customers in more than 40 countries, who
have subjected them to rigorous and continuous security testing without
a single reported breach," said Baker.
- "As with any computer equipment that sits on a
the Comverse systems are protected by the security measures and access
restrictions imposed by the user of the network, whether a government
or telephone operator. We fully support the evolving CALEA standard, and
remain committed to maintaining our industry leadership in providing secure
and reliable systems," concluded Baker.
- FBI Response Raises Questions
- Despite the extensive denials by Amdocs and Comverse,
the curious response by the FBI has raised more questions than answers.
Sources inside Capitol Hill are investigating the allegations and made
no comments on the allegations of espionage at this time. However, the
demands for answers continued to grow outside political circles.
- "If national security is the overriding issue in
the FBI's treatment of this case, the correct response to your questions
should have been 'Sorry, we have no comment at this time,'" said
Brown of the Nathan Hale Institute.
- "Of course, the most reassuring response would have
been 'There's no truth to the stories,' but apparently the bureau can't
say that. Maybe the spokesperson is well-informed?" questioned
- "Something is up. One of the things that gave the
Fox report added credibility was '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.' I think it pretty much
captures the bizzaro world U.S. law enforcement and intelligence continues
to operate in during the post-Clinton years," said Brown.
- "Everything is opposite still in their world, since
the Clintonistas still control it. The more you screw up, the higher you
go. Forget 'The West Wing' and 'The Agency' type shows, 'Seinfeld' reruns
do a better job of capturing reality in D.C.," said Brown.
- "If the Israelis have used the companies named in
the Fox reports for intelligence purposes, it lies somewhere between the
Liberty incident and Jonathan Pollard affair for outrageousness. Yet, if
true, one has to admire the creativity and ingenuity of Israeli
- Are Israeli Spies in the U.S.?
- "First, they have taken advantage of a technically
bumbling and compromised law enforcement and counterintelligence community
and may have essentially made U.S. law enforcement wiretapping activities
a branch of Israeli intelligence. It would be quite impressive if
- "They have used their technical expertise in-house
to identify and exploit cutting-edge technologies and companies. In gaining
control over those technologies and companies, they would also have shown
a deft handling of merger and acquisitions, personnel recruitment, and
playing the capital markets.
- "In addition, as publicly traded companies, private
and institutional investors from around the world would be funding Israeli
intelligence activities. Again, pretty impressive, if true, and really
pretty much the model, or a variation of the model, now used by the
agencies of China, Russia and some of our European allies," said
- "If they [the Fox reports] do turn out to expose
Israeli intelligence operations, one's admiration for Israeli ingenuity
would be more than tempered by amazement at the sheer stupidity and
of the Israelis' actions," noted Brown.
- "First, they would have seriously damaged their
relationship with the United States on many levels. Since that relationship
is fundamental to Israel's existence, not a smart move.
- "Second, while Israel, like the prodigal son, will
always be able to ultimately rely on America's protection, Israeli
companies are a major target for Russian intelligence and organized
- Damage to U.S.-Israeli Relations
- "The prodigal son may have left our back door open
to some of the most dangerous people in our global village. In other words,
Israeli ingenuity in infiltrating and exploiting the U.S. high-tech
may be seriously undermining the security and power of the country that
is, in fact, the ultimate guarantor of its existence. Again, not a smart
move," said Brown.
- "Finally, if the Israelis are using such a modus
operandus for penetrating U.S. high-tech companies and government agencies,
it is not a method of operation appropriate or necessary for a close ally
to engage in. The risk of backlash and recriminations are much too great.
Russian and Chinese use of such methods is understandable and a natural
evolution and outgrowth of intelligence operations conducted for decades,
but Israel should adhere more closely to the more open and, unfortunately,
usually perfectly legal methods used by allies like Japan," stated
- "It looks like Louis Freeh may have another chapter
to write in his memoirs - right after the Hanssen chapter," concluded
- Also see: U.S. Police and Intelligence Hit by Spy
- Posted by permission of NewsMax.com