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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘spying’

Israel Slams Claim of Spying on U.S.

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed a report by U.S.-based Newsweek magazine claiming Israel has been “spying” on America.

The foreign minister told listeners on Israel’s Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning, “First of all, these are malicious accusations. . . I would not agree to any spying on the United States, not in any form, directly or indirectly.”

Israeli Embassy spokesperson Aaron Sagui also flatly denied the charges, telling Newsweek, “Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period. We condemn the fact that such outrageous, false allegations are being directed against Israel.”

The report, published Tuesday by Newsweek, quoted anonymous senior intelligence officials in the United States, and Congressional staffers.

Written by journalist Jeff Stein, the report began with the question, “Whatever happened to honor among thieves? When the National Security Agency was caught eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, it was considered a rude way to treat a friend. Now U.S. intelligence officials are saying – albeit very quietly, behind closed doors on Capitol Hill – that our Israeli “friends” have gone too far with their spying operations here.”

Stein wrote the espionage had allegedly been revealed in recent visa waiver briefings, saying the spying came under cover of trade missions and joint defense technology contracts. The alleged primary target: “America’s industrial and technical secrets,” according to his report.

Last month a senior House aide also noted the U.S. intelligence community is concerned that adding Israel to the visa waiver program would make it easier for Israeli spies to enter the country, the CQ Roll Call news site reported.

Counter intelligence agents, wrote Stein, had called Israel’s “espionage activities in America… unrivaled and unseemly,” and said they went “far beyond activities by other close allies, such as Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan.” Unnamed Congressional staffers referred to testimony at the briefings as “very sobering … alarming … even terrifying … damaging.”

Of course, wrote Stein, the United States spies on Israel as well. He quoted a former top CIA operative who told him that Israel was “the last place you wanted to go on vacation” because of ‘heavy-handed Israeli surveillance.’

Israel’s foreign minister, however, said Wednesday morning that he heard no complaints about “spying” during a meeting with members of Congress on a visit to the United States last month. Mr. Liberman told listeners he believes the charges are the work of saboteurs trying to scotch relations between the two countries.

The U.S. visa waiver program enables travelers to the United States to enter the country without first having to obtain a visa. According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security quoted by Newsweek, requirements for entry to the program include “enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States, timely reporting of lost and stolen passports, and the maintenance of high counter-terrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and document security standards.”

Israelis face a high rate of visa refusal by the U.S. due to the problem of young people entering the country and then staying past the expiration date of tourist visas in order to work illegally.

Another obstacle to Israel’s acceptance to the program is the U.S. government’s perception of alleged discrimination against Arab Americans in Israeli security protocols.

Netanyahu Changes to Harsher Tone on US Spying

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has gone from “soft” to “harsh” in his calculated reaction to revelations that the National Security Agency spied on former Israel prime ministers.

Apparently feeling in a minority amid the reactions of insults and rage to the idea that the United States would spy on its ally, which is what every country does these days, the Prime Minister stated, “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things which are forbidden to do, that are unacceptable to us.”

He also picked up the thread that has accompanied virtually every other Israeli reaction questioning how the Americans spy on Israeli prime ministers and justify keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison. Pollard was not convicted for spying but only for handing over for Israel’ use classified  Pentagon information on the Iraqi nuclear program.

Netanyahu told the Likud caucus Monday, “I met now with Esther Pollard and updated her on the non-stop efforts to win Jonathan’s release. He should have been released long ago. I think this is understood by everyone here and I believe it is also understood to an increasingly larger crowd in the United States.”

Jerusalem Arab Jailed for 3.5 Years for Aiding Hezbollah

Monday, October 21st, 2013

A Jerusalem court Monday sentenced a Jerusalem Arab bus driver to 3½ years in jail for handing over to Hezbollah information about potential targets in the capital for terrorists.

The sentence was handed down three months after the conviction of Issam Hashem Mashahara, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy in return for the prosecution’s dropping spy charges, for which he had been indicted.

Mashahara had traveled to Lebanon via Jordan and contacted Hezbollah agents, who later took him to an office of the terrorist organization for an interview.

He informed Hezbollah agents of the address of the official residence of the Prime Minister and of other possible places where terrorists could attack. Mashahara returned to Israel with software camouflaged as a children’s DVD in order to stay in touch with his contacts, who also paid him $1.500.

An Even More Centralized Israel: Cashless and Criminal

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Centralization in Israel is a two-headed coin (or perhaps a two-headed monster).

There’s no doubt, that so many bureaucratic activities go much smoother in Israel than they do in America, because we have ID numbers and our cards are inter-linked to everything. Of course, sometimes that doubles the frustration when obvious things need to be manually duplicated over and over for no reason.

On the other hand, that centralization provides no flexibility or a safety net. Having problems with one government office can easily spill over to an unrelated one, since you’re linked together everywhere on record.

Then there is the basic issue of personal privacy and civil liberties.

And now, the Israeli government is attempting to implement two extreme decisions that threaten civil liberties more than ever.

They’re testing a biometric ID system. God forbid that should ever become mandatory.

Right now, even though your personal bio-data is out there with different organizations, there is still some semblance of privacy and protection because of the separation that naturally exists between your health fund, the army, the government, and so on.

But once that goes away, there goes your privacy. You will have no control over your personal information at all, and you’re reliant on the government, which as we know, is not the most effective of protectors of personal data.

The other move is even scarier.

The Israeli government is actually considering trying to find a way to abolish cash.

There was a unanimous cabinet decision to explore how to do that (Hey Naftali Bennett, I didn’t vote for you to lose my civil liberties – remember that come election time).

They want to get rid of cash, and give everyone rechargeable “cash cards” that will allow the government to track every single transaction you do. EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION.

I can’t even begin to describe the civil liberties and privacy violations that implementing this system will create.

And if they actually believe this will get rid of cash, or the black market, they’re even stupider than I thought.

Bitcoin, gold, barter… you name it. Smart (and dumb) people will find their way around it. Not to do illegal transactions, mind you, but simply to protect their privacy away from the government’s snooping eyes.

And then we’ll all be criminals, because of a dangerous legislation which is an intrusive attempt to suck more tax money out of us and spy on us, and not just spy directly, but with data mining too, to study our purchase and transaction behavior, and find every last penny they can suck out of us and understand what we do with it.

I guarantee one thing. If this legislation passes, if the party I voted for, and the ones I didn’t, don’t stop this in its tracks, I will do everything (legal) to make sure those people do not get elected again, and be replaced with people who do care and understand the importance of civil liberties and fear the tyranny of government.

Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

What is most important to understand about the revelations of massive message interception by the U.S. government is this:

In counterterrorist terms, it is a farce.

There is a fallacy behind the current intelligence strategy of the United States, the collection of massive amounts of phone calls, emails, and even credit card expenditures, up to 3 billion phone calls a day alone, not to mention the government spying on the mass media. It is this:

The more quantity of intelligence, the better it is for preventing terrorism.

In the real, practical world this is—though it might seem counterintuitive—untrue. You don’t need–to put it in an exaggerated way–an atomic bomb against a flea. And isn’t it absurd that the United States can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists, can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. army who gives a power point presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nadal Hassan), can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing), or a dozen similar incidents must now collect every telephone call in the country? A system in which a photo shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists or brave passengers must jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

And how about a country where terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy (even while, like CAIR) advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement, and are admiringly quoted in the media yet a documented, detailed  revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole, which should bring down the government, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy.” does not get covered by a single mass media outlet?
Imagine this scene:
 
“Sir, we have a telephone call about a potential terrorist attack!”
 
“Not now, Smithers, I’m giving a tour of our facility to some supporters of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.” 

Or how about the time when the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem had a (previously jailed) Hamas agent working in their motor pool with direct access to the vehicles and itineraries of all visiting US dignitaries and senior officials.
 
Instead of this kind of thing the two key tasks of counterterrorism are as follows:

First, it is not the quantity of material that counts but the need to locate and correctly understand the most vital material. This requires your security forces to understand the ideological, psychological, and organizational nature of the threat.

Second, it is necessary to be ready to act on this information not only in strategic but in political terms.

For example, suppose the U.S. ambassador to Libya warns that the American compound there may be attacked. No response. Then he tells the deputy chief of mission that he is under attack. No response. Then the U.S. military is not allowed to respond. Then the president goes to sleep without making a decision about doing anything because communications break down between the secretaries of defense and state and the president, who goes to sleep because he has a very important fund-raiser the next day. But don’t worry because three billion telephone calls by Americans are daily being intercepted and supposedly analyzed.

In other words, you have a massive counterterrorist project costing $1 trillion but when it comes down to it the thing repeatedly fails. In that case, to quote the former secretary of state, “”What difference does it  make?”

If one looks at the great intelligence failures of the past, these two points quickly become obvious. Take for example the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. U.S. naval intelligence had broken Japanese codes. They had the information needed to conclude the attack would take place. Yet a focus on the key to the problem was not achieved. The important messages were not read and interpreted; the strategic mindset of the leadership was not in place.

Or, in another situation, the plan of Nazi Germany to invade   the USSR in 1941 or of the time and place of the Allied invasion of Normandy beach in 1944 was not assessed properly, with devastating results. Of course, the techniques were more primitive then, but so were the means of concealment.

For instance, the Czech intelligence services, using railroad workers as informants, knew about a big build-up for a German offensive against the USSR. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin overrode the warnings. Soviet analysts predicting a Nazi invasion were punished. Nothing would have changed if more material was collected.

So what needs to be in place, again, is to focus on the highest priority material, to analyze correctly what is available, to have leaders accept it, and to act. If the U.S. government can’t even figure out what the Muslim Brotherhood is like or the dangers of supporting Islamists to take over Syria, or the fact that the Turkish regime is an American enemy, or can’t even teach military officers who the enemy is, what’s it going to do with scores of billions of telephone call traffic to overcome terrorism? It isn’t even using the intelligence material is already has!

If, however, the material is almost limitless, that actually weakens a focus on the most needed intelligence regarding the most likely terrorist threats. Imagine, for example, going through billions of telephone calls even with high-speed computers rather than, say, following up a tip from Russian intelligence on a young Chechen man in Boston who is in contact with terrorists or, for instance, the communications between a Yemeni al-Qaida leader and a U.S. army major who is assigned as a psychiatrist to Fort Hood.

That is why the old system of getting warrants, focusing on individual email addresses, or sites, or telephones makes sense, at least if it is only used properly. Then those people who are communicating with known terrorists can be traced further. There are no technological magic spells. If analysts are incompetent, blocked from understanding the relationship between Islam and terrorism, bound up by Political Correctness and fear of career costs, and leaders unwilling to take proper action, who cares how much data was collected?

At a time when American leaders and the social atmosphere are discouraging citizens from reporting potential terrorism (the photo store clerk; the flight school instructor back before September 11, the brave passengers who jumped a hijacker and then had to worry about lawsuits because they violated someone’s civil rights, the attempts to take away guns that wouldn’t stop terrorists), why is a giant facility in Utah going to do a better job?

Decision-makers and intelligence analysts only have so many hours in the day. There can only be so many meetings; only so many priorities. And the policymaking pyramid narrows rapidly toward the top. There is a point of diminishing returns for the size of an intelligence bureaucracy. Lower-priority tasks proliferate; too much paper is generated and meetings are held; the system clogs when it has too much data.

Note the parallelism between this broader terrorism policy and the current philosophy of airport security. In both cases, everyone is considered equally suspect. Profiling is minimized. Instead of focusing on the, let’s say one hundred of those who might be of special interest, a great deal of time, attention, and resources has been spent on ten million others. This has got to reduce effectiveness.

The increased costs of security, Obama has told us, amounts to a cost of $1 trillion. Of course, people would say that such money was well spent. Yet in security as in every other aspect of government, money can be spent well or badly, even counterproductively.

Al-Qaida is even saying openly that it is switching to a strategy of encouraging isolated attacks. Within 24 hours a British soldier is murdered on a street in London after he seeks and fails to obtain terrorist training in Somalia, and a French soldier is attacked. In Toulouse, France, a terrorist kills or cripples soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren. There are dozens of examples.

Vast amounts of money and resources, though, are being spent in preparing for an exact reply of September 11.
And remember that the number of terrorists caught by the TSA hovers around the zero level. The shoe, underpants, and Times Square bombers weren’t even caught by security at all and many other such cases can be listed. In addition to this, the U.S.-Mexico border is practically open.

The ultimate problem is that the number of terrorists is very low and the fact is that for anyone who isn’t insane their characteristics are pretty clear, that is they are about 99 percent revolutionary and violent Islamists.
Obama has now admitted three very important things.

First, the war on terrorism has not been won.

Second, the war on al-Qaida has not really been won, since its continued campaigning is undeniable and it has even grown in Syria, partly thanks to U.S. policy.

Third, the biggest threat on the American homeland is autonomous terrorists who have been inspired by al-Qaida but are not technically part of the nomination. (That allows Obama to claim to be winning the war on al-Qaida).
What he has not yet admitted is that the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups or sponsors are controlling Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, Sudan, Syria, and Iran, while terrorists run free in the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, is not conducive to the protection of America against terrorism. The fact that his policy promotes some of these problems makes things even worse.

Yet the new, expensive, expansive, and time-consuming technological methods are relatively ineffective against the current priorities of anti-American terrorist groups.

Incidentally, Obama policy has been disastrous against a four factor, radical Islamists—though not al-Qaida taking over places. Compared to the time Obama came to office, the Islamists who support violence against America now rule Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and perhaps soon Syria. Offenses have been stepped up in Somalia, Yemen; are being maintained in Iraq; and of course still rule over Syria and Iran. In Turkey, an Islamist terror-supporting regime has been embraced by Obama.

This represents a massive retreat even if it is a largely unnoticed one.

So the problem of growing government spying is three-fold.

–First, it is against the American system and reduces liberty.

–Second, it is a misapplication of resources, in other words money is being spent and liberty sacrificed for no real gain.

–Third, since government decisionmaking and policy about international terrorism is very bad the threat is increasing.

If you don’t get value for money or enhanced security while freedom is being reduced and the enemy is getting stronger it certainly isn’t a bargain.

Suspected Israel Bedouin Spy on Hunger Strike in Egyptian Prison

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

An Israeli Bedouin serving a life prison sentence in Egypt on charges of being a spy has begun a hunger strike to draw attention to his plight, the Egyptian Ahram website reported.

Ouda Trabin was sentenced in 2000 on charges of espionage. Voice of Israel public radio aired on Wednesday a letter he sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Ambassador in Cairo.

Israel negotiated with Egypt last year for his release in exchange for 65 Egyptians in jail in Israel, but Trabin was not included in the final agreement, which won the release of American-Israeli Ilan Grapel. He has been arrested for allegedly spying on Egypt on Israel’s behalf but was not brought to trial.

My Take On Pollard

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Here are excerpts of my Knesset speech regarding Jonathan Pollard’s incarceration:

I would like to thank Knesset member [Avishay] Braverman who openly told us that at least during a certain time period, Jonathan Pollard remained imprisoned because that was also the will of people here, in Israel.

This is a very important statement, which was said in an offhand way. But in my opinion, it is certainly possible that this problem still exists.

Jonathan Pollard is not a traitor. We have to look at Jonathan Pollard through Jewish, Israeli, Zionist eyes. Jonathan Pollard is an Israeli agent. He performed a service for us. It is unthinkable that we should look at Jonathan through American eyes.

Jonathan Pollard is a hero, a hero of Israel. He is a hero who risked his life for us. And who knows how many of us he literally saved.

I have no intention of signing the petition for Jonathan Pollard. It is just meaningless words. It is lip service. I have no intention of being dragged once again into processes that have nothing behind them. Similarly, in my evaluation, this petition will fade away when President Barack Obama arrives here if we, the MKs, do not take tangible action – and I intend to propose just such an action. With it, our loyalty to the person who we sent to risk his life for us will be put to the test.

Our brother, Jonathan, who risked his life for us as our envoy, was not the only one who ran to the Israeli embassy for protection on that bitter day 28 years ago. His direct handler, Colonel Aviem Sella, ran to the embassy with him.

The U.S. forcefully demanded that both men – the Jew and the Israeli – be handed over to them.

We betrayed the Jew, and handed him over to his captors – the FBI agents waiting outside.

As far as the Israeli, we proved that when Israel wants something, it can certainly stand firm. Aviem Sella was not handed over – and a way was even found to bring him back to Israel.

On that day I understood that the state of Israel is not really the state of the Jews. Israel is the state of the Israelis. And from this denial of its identity and its foundations, my friends, Knesset members, Israel is progressively losing the legitimacy for its very right to exist.

I have visited my brother, Jonathan, many times. When I saw him for the first time, I couldn’t stop my tears. It was awkward: he was the inmate, who, despite the terrible torture that he had endured, remained peaceful and calm while I, a free lark, was crying like a baby.

Since then, Jonathan’s picture is on the front door of my house. One cannot enter the Feiglin family home without remembering our brother, Jonathan.

The betrayal of Pollard continues until today. It is hard to believe, but the simple fact is that the prime minister then, the person who authorized the extradition and today serves as president of the state of Israel, until recently never officially requested Jonathan’s release. We often hear that Israel is doing its utmost. We heard that and we will continue to hear it. We will sign petitions. But an official request was never presented – until Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu did so after 20 years.

But the resolve is still missing. Our body language – and I am referring to the body language of the regime, not of the nation of Israel and not of the Knesset embers but the body language of those responsible – still says to the Americans, “Keep Pollard to yourselves, we don’t really want him here.”

The type of spying that Pollard conducted is carried out by U.S. agents in Israel as a matter of course and is public information. Israel has the ability to demand and receive our brother, Jonathan, if it wants. If we want!

The president of the U.S. will [soon] arrive in Israel and he will want to speak from this podium. Welcome to Israel, U.S. President Barack Obama – with my brother, Jonathan Pollard.

But if you continue to imprison my brother, Jonathan, you will have to speak to my empty chair. And I hope that more Knesset chairs than just mine will be empty.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/my-take-on-pollard/2013/03/14/

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