TBR News February 22, 2017

Feb 22 2017

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. February 22, 2017: “What do the Russians, the Chinese and Israel have in common?

They all spy very competently indeed on the United States.

The Chinese are interested in business secrets, the Russian in political and military secrets and the Israelis on everything they think they can use.

On the other hand, one American intelligence agency has bugged the Israeli embassy in Washington as well as other purportedly “secret” Israeli spy centers throughout the United States.

Our secrets flow to Tel Aviv and Fat Bibi the Cross Dresser and their secrets flow to us.

The only really effective methodology to keeping a secret is to tell no one, write no one, commit nothing to the computer and certainly never discuss anything one wishes to keep private on the telephone system.

Our FBI has the US Post Office scan all packages and mail so, while they don’t open your mail, the know to whom you are writing.

On the other hand, coded, confidential and secret FBI memos and reports are as easily read as a supermarket tabloid and about as accurate.”



Table of Contents

  • Merkel’s cabinet approves faster migrant deportations
  • New Trump immigration orders target nearly all illegal immigrants in US
  • How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World
  • Why Do “Progressives” Like War?
  • Israel interferes in our politics all the time, and it’s never a scandal US Politics
  • Accurate medical diagnosis
  • How Israel became a leader in cyber security and surveillance
  • The Deep Rabbit Hole of Israel Spying on America
  • Israeli spies on America: An ongoing threat from a false friend

 Merkel’s cabinet approves faster migrant deportations

The German cabinet has passed a slew of measures aimed at streamlining the deportation process. The phones of asylum-seekers will be searched, while rejected people will likely be kept in custody longer.

February 22, 2017

by Ben Knight


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a package of measures that will accelerate the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers while making it easier for security forces to track those awaiting a decision on their application for asylum.

The new measures will allow security forces to check the cellphone data of new arrivals, while those who have been rejected may be kept in custody for up to 10 days to prevent them from absconding. Rules on surveillance of asylum-seekers will also be eased to allow those under suspicion to be watched more easily, and deportations will be carried out directly from initial reception centers wherever possible.

Peter Altmaier, the head of the Chancellor’s Office and the government’s coordinator of refugee affairs, said over the weekend that he expects Germany to deport a record number of people in 2017. There is, however, still some debate overwhich countries people can be sent to if their asylum applications are rejected with many questioning the return of migrants to Afghanistan. A group of 50 people is set to be flown to Afghanistan from Munich later on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s decision effectively approved a series of agreements made jointly by leaders of Germany’s federal and state governments two weeks ago.

The package was harshly criticized by refugee rights’ organizations. Pro Asyl called the new legislation a “brutalization of the deportation process.”

“The agreed package of measures for tougher deportation policies is a program that will deprive asylum-seekers of hope for protection in Germany and is aimed at discouraging them,” the organization said in a statement

Germany’s main opposition party, the socialist Left party, also condemned the plan.

“Cellphones and computers belong to a particularly protected area of privacy,” party leader Katja Kipping told the DPA news agency. The government’s plan amounted to “sacrificing basic rights on the altar of domestic security.”


New Trump immigration orders target nearly all illegal immigrants in US

The new orders will allow agents to deport almost all undocumented immigrants anywhere in the United States. An increase in the number of US immigration agents is also planned.

February 22, 2017


The orders have widened the net for deportations. Nearly all of the United States’ 11 million illegal immigrants can be subject to deportation under the Trump administration’s new immigration guidelines released on Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that President Donald Trump “wanted to take the shackles off” immigration agents.

The measures are part of Trump’s wider security plan and reflect his campaign promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants, who he accused of bringing violent crime to the country and hurting the nation’s economy. Drafts of the memos were leaked over the weekend.

“The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States,” said John Kelly, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in one of the two memos issued by the department to immigration officials.

The two guidelines mark a significant overhaul of deportation policies under President Barack Obama. Under the previous president, illegal immigrants not linked to serious crime were deemed a low priority and were not targeted for deportation.

Both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations also attempted to create an immigration framework that would allow long-term undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.

Increased threat of deportation

The new memos outline blanket policies aimed at nearly all undocumented individuals: “With extremely limited exceptions, DHS will not exempt classes or categories of removal aliens from potential enforcement.”

DHS officials told reporters that the agency will prioritize undocumented individuals deemed a threat.

The new memos pave the way for mass deportation that critics say will uproot families and damage economies.

“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to enforcement proceedings, up to and including removal from the United States,” the orders stated.

However, the new guidelines do not reverse protection for some 750,000 “dreamers” – those who came to the United States illegally as children.

‘Take the shackles off’

The orders also provide for the hiring of 15,000 more immigration officials within two agencies: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The memos also enable ICE agents to increase “expedited removal” – deportation without a hearing – of immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the US for over two years. However, this measure remains subject to notice publication and review in the Federal Register. At present, only individuals taken into custody at the border who cannot prove they have been in the US for more than 14 days may be deported before a hearing.

Under the new rules, ICE may also detain migrants who are awaiting court decisions on their asylum status.

Mexico objects

Many sections of the orders depend on Congress or involve negotiations with Mexico before they can be implemented. One example is the plan to return non-Mexican illegal immigrants back to Mexico while they await their a decision on their immigration status from US courts. Mexican officials said this would be impossible due to treaties between the neighboring nations.

The DHS released the memos one day before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were scheduled to meet Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other officials in Mexico.

Pena Nieto canceled a January meeting with Trump in Washington after the US president demanded that Mexico pay for a border wall. The new memos also call for planning action to begin immediately for the wall along the US-Mexico border.


How Peter Thiel’s Palantir Helped the NSA Spy on the Whole World

February 22 2017

by Sam Biddle

The Intercept

Donald Trump has inherited the most powerful machine for spying ever devised. How this petty, vengeful man might wield and expand the sprawling American spy apparatus, already vulnerable to abuse, is disturbing enough on its own. But the outlook is even worse considering Trump’s vast preference for private sector expertise and new strategic friendship with Silicon Valley billionaire investor Peter Thiel, whose controversial (and opaque) company Palantir has long sought to sell governments an unmatched power to sift and exploit information of any kind. Thiel represents a perfect nexus of government clout with the kind of corporate swagger Trump loves. The Intercept can now reveal that Palantir has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies.

Peter Thiel became one of the American political mainstream’s most notorious figures in 2016 (when it emerged he was bankrolling a lawsuit against Gawker Media, my former employer) even before he won a direct line to the White House. Now he brings to his role as presidential adviser decades of experience as kingly investor and token nonliberal on Facebook’s board of directors, a Rolodex of software luminaries, and a decidedly Trumpian devotion to controversy and contrarianism. But perhaps the most appealing asset Thiel can offer our bewildered new president will be Palantir Technologies, which Thiel founded with Alex Karp and Joe Lonsdale in 2004.

Palantir has never masked its ambitions, in particular the desire to sell its services to the U.S. government — the CIA itself was an early investor in the startup through In-Q-Tel, the agency’s venture capital branch. But Palantir refuses to discuss or even name its government clientele, despite landing “at least $1.2 billion” in federal contracts since 2009, according to an August 2016 report in Politico. The company was last valued at $20 billion and is expected to pursue an IPO in the near future. In a 2012 interview with TechCrunch, while boasting of ties to the intelligence community, Karp said nondisclosure contracts prevent him from speaking about Palantir’s government work.

“Palantir” is generally used interchangeably to refer to both Thiel and Karp’s company and the software that company creates. Its two main products are Palantir Gotham and Palantir Metropolis, more geeky winks from a company whose Tolkien namesake is a type of magical sphere used by the evil lord Sauron to surveil, trick, and threaten his enemies across Middle Earth. While Palantir Metropolis is pegged to quantitative analysis for Wall Street banks and hedge funds, Gotham (formerly Palantir Government) is designed for the needs of intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security customers. Gotham works by importing large reams of “structured” data (like spreadsheets) and “unstructured” data (like images) into one centralized database, where all of the information can be visualized and analyzed in one workspace. For example, a 2010 demo showed how Palantir Government could be used to chart the flow of weapons throughout the Middle East by importing disparate data sources like equipment lot numbers, manufacturer data, and the locations of Hezbollah training camps. Palantir’s chief appeal is that it’s not designed to do any single thing in particular, but is flexible and powerful enough to accommodate the requirements of any organization that needs to process large amounts of both personal and abstract data.

Despite all the grandstanding about lucrative, shadowy government contracts, co-founder Karp does not shy away from taking a stand in the debate over government surveillance. In a Forbes profile in 2013, he played privacy lamb, saying, “I didn’t sign up for the government to know when I smoke a joint or have an affair. … We have to find places that we protect away from government so that we can all be the unique and interesting and, in my case, somewhat deviant people we’d like to be.” In that same article, Thiel lays out Palantir’s mission with privacy in mind: to “reduce terrorism while preserving civil liberties.” After the first wave of revelations spurred by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, Palantir was quick to deny that it had any connection to the NSA spy program known as PRISM, which shared an unfortunate code name with one of its own software products. The current iteration of Palantir’s website includes an entire section dedicated to “Privacy & Civil Liberties,” proclaiming the company’s support of both:

Palantir Technologies is a mission-driven company, and a core component of that mission is protecting our fundamental rights to privacy and civil liberties. …

Some argue that society must “balance” freedom and safety, and that in order to better protect ourselves from those who would do us harm, we have to give up some of our liberties. We believe that this is a false choice in many areas. Particularly in the world of data analysis, liberty does not have to be sacrificed to enhance security. Palantir is constantly looking for ways to protect privacy and individual liberty through its technology while enabling the powerful analysis necessary to generate the actionable intelligence that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to fulfill their missions.

It’s hard to square this purported commitment to privacy with proof, garnered from documents provided by Edward Snowden, that Palantir has helped expand and accelerate the NSA’s global spy network, which is jointly administered with allied foreign agencies around the world. Notably, the partnership has included building software specifically to facilitate, augment, and accelerate the use of XKEYSCORE, one of the most expansive and potentially intrusive tools in the NSA’s arsenal. According to Snowden documents published by The Guardian in 2013, XKEYSCORE is by the NSA’s own admission its “widest reaching” program, capturing “nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.” A subsequent report by The Intercept showed that XKEYSCORE’s “collected communications not only include emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic, but also pictures, documents, voice calls, webcam photos, web searches, advertising analytics traffic, social media traffic, botnet traffic, logged keystrokes, computer network exploitation targeting, intercepted username and password pairs, file uploads to online services, Skype sessions, and more.” For the NSA and its global partners, XKEYSCORE makes all of this as searchable as a hotel reservation site.

But how do you make so much data comprehensible for human spies? As the additional documents published with this article demonstrate, Palantir sold its services to make one of the most powerful surveillance systems ever devised even more powerful, bringing clarity and slick visuals to an ocean of surveillance data.

Palantir’s relationship with government spy agencies appears to date back to at least 2008, when representatives from the U.K.’s signals intelligence agency, Government Communications Headquarters, joined their American peers at VisWeek, an annual data visualization and computing conference organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Attendees from throughout government and academia gather to network with members of the private sector at the event, where they compete in teams to solve hypothetical data-based puzzles as part of the Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) Challenge. As described in a document saved by GCHQ, Palantir fielded a team in 2008 and tackled one such scenario using its own software. It was a powerful marketing opportunity at a conference filled with potential buyers.

In the demo, Palantir engineers showed how their software could be used to identify Wikipedia users who belonged to a fictional radical religious sect and graph their social relationships. In Palantir’s pitch, its approach to the VAST Challenge involved using software to enable “many analysts working together [to] truly leverage their collective mind.” The fake scenario’s target, a cartoonishly sinister religious sect called “the Paraiso Movement,” was suspected of a terrorist bombing, but the unmentioned and obvious subtext of the experiment was the fact that such techniques could be applied to de-anonymize and track members of any political or ideological group. Among a litany of other conclusions, Palantir determined the group was prone to violence because its “Manifesto’s intellectual influences include ‘Pancho Villa, Che Guevara, Leon Trotsky, [and] Cuban revolutionary Jose Martí,’ a list of military commanders and revolutionaries with a history of violent actions.”

The delegation from GCHQ returned from VisWeek excited and impressed. In a classified report from those who attended, Palantir’s potential for aiding the spy agency was described in breathless terms. “Palantir are a relatively new Silicon Valley startup who are sponsored by the CIA,” the report began. “They claim to have significant involvement with the US intelligence community, although none yet at NSA.” GCHQ noted that Palantir “has been developed closely internally with intelligence community users (unspecified, but likely to be the CIA given the funding).” The report described Palantir’s demo as “so significant” that it warranted its own entry in GCHQ’s classified internal wiki, calling the software “extremely sophisticated and mature. … We were very impressed. You need to see it to believe it.”

The report conceded, however, that “it would take an enormous effort for an in-house developed GCHQ system to get to the same level of sophistication” as Palantir. The GCHQ briefers also expressed hesitation over the price tag, noting that “adoption would have [a] huge monetary … cost,” and over the implications of essentially outsourcing intelligence analysis software to the private sector, thus making the agency “utterly dependent on a commercial product.” Finally, the report added that “it is possible there may be concerns over security — the company have published a lot of information on their website about how their product is used in intelligence analysis, some of which we feel very uncomfortable about.”

However anxious British intelligence was about Palantir’s self-promotion, the worry must not have lasted very long. Within two years, documents show that at least three members of the “Five Eyes” spy alliance between the United States, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada were employing Palantir to help gather and process data from around the world. Palantir excels at making connections between enormous, separate databases, pulling big buckets of information (call records, IP addresses, financial transactions, names, conversations, travel records) into one centralized heap and visualizing them coherently, thus solving one of the persistent problems of modern intelligence gathering: data overload.

A GCHQ wiki page titled “Visualisation,” outlining different ways “to provide insight into some set of data,” puts succinctly Palantir’s intelligence value:

Palantir is an information management platform for analysis developed by Palantir Technologies. It integrates structured and unstructured data, provides search and discovery capabilities, knowledge management, and collaborative features. The goal is to offer the infrastructure, or ‘full stack,’ that intelligence organizations require for analysis.

Bullet-pointed features of note included a “Graph View,” “Timelining capabilities,” and “Geo View.”

Under the Five Eyes arrangement, member countries collect and pool enormous streams of data and metadata collected through tools like XKEYSCORE, amounting to tens of billions of records. The alliance is constantly devising (or attempting) new, experimental methods of prying data out of closed and private sources, including by hacking into computers and networks in non-Five Eyes countries and infecting them with malware.

A 2011 PowerPoint presentation from GCHQ’s Network Defence Intelligence & Security Team (NDIST) — which, as The Intercept has previously reported, “worked to subvert anti-virus and other security software in order to track users and infiltrate networks” — mentioned Palantir as a tool for processing data gathered in the course of its malware-oriented work. Palantir’s software was described as an “analyst workspace [for] pulling together disparate information and displaying it in novel ways,” and was used closely in conjunction with other intelligence software tools, like the NSA’s notorious XKEYSCORE search system. The novel ways of using Palantir for spying seemed open-ended, even imaginative: A 2010 presentation on the joint NSA-GCHQ “Mastering the Internet” surveillance program mentioned the prospect of running Palantir software on “Android handsets” as part of a SIGINT-based “augmented reality” experience. It’s unclear what exactly this means or could even look like.

Above all, these documents depict Palantir’s software as a sort of consolidating agent, allowing Five Eyes analysts to make sense of tremendous amounts of data that might have been otherwise unintelligible or highly time-consuming to digest. In a 2011 presentation to the NSA, classified top secret, an NDIST operative noted the “good collection” of personal data among the Five Eyes alliance but lamented the “poor analytics,” and described the attempt to find new tools for SIGINT analysis, in which it “conducted a review of 14 different systems that might work.” The review considered services from Lockheed Martin and Detica (a subsidiary of BAE Systems) but decided on the up-and-comer from Palo Alto.

Palantir is described as having been funded not only by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital branch, but furthermore created “through [an] iterative collaboration between Palantir computer scientists and analysts from various intelligence agencies over the course of nearly three years.” While it’s long been known that Palantir got on its feet with the intelligence community’s money, it has not been previously reported that the intelligence community actually helped build the software. The continuous praise seen in these documents shows that the collaboration paid off. Under the new “Palantir Model,” “data can come from anywhere” and can be “asked whatever the analyst wants.”

Along with Palantir’s ability to pull in “direct XKS Results,” the presentation boasted that the software was already connected to 10 other secret Five Eyes and GCHQ programs and was highly popular among analysts. It even offered testimonials (TWO FACE appears to be a code name for the implementation of Palantir):

[Palantir] is the best tool I have ever worked with. It’s intuitive, i.e. idiot-proof, and can do a lot you never even dreamt of doing.

This morning, using TWO FACE rather than XKS to review the activity of the last 3 days. It reduced the initial analysis time by at least 50%.

Enthusiasm runs throughout the PowerPoint: A slide titled “Unexpected Benefits” reads like a marketing brochure, exclaiming that Palantir “interacts with anything!” including Google Earth, and “You can even use it on a iphone or laptop.” The next slide, on “Potential Downsides,” is really more praise in disguise: Palantir “Looks expensive” but “isn’t as expensive as expected.” The answer to “What can’t it do?” is revealing: “However we ask, Palantir answer,” indicating that the collaboration between spies and startup didn’t end with Palantir’s CIA-funded origins, but that the company was willing to create new features for the intelligence community by request.

On GCHQ’s internal wiki page for TWO FACE, analysts were offered a “how to” guide for incorporating Palantir into their daily routine, covering introductory topics like “How do I … Get Data from XKS in Palantir,” “How do I … Run a bulk search,” and “How do I … Run bulk operations over my objects in Palantir.” For anyone in need of a hand, “training is currently offered as 1-2-1 desk based training with a Palantir trainer. This gives you the opportunity to quickly apply Palantir to your current work task.” Palantir often sends “forward deployed engineers,” or FDEs, to work alongside clients at their offices and provide assistance and engineering services, though the typical client does not have access to the world’s largest troves of personal information. For analysts interested in tinkering with Palantir, there was even a dedicated instant message chat room open to anyone for “informally” discussing the software.

The GCHQ wiki includes links to classified webpages describing Palantir’s use by the Australian Defence Signals Directorate (now called the Australian Signals Directorate) and to a Palantir entry on the NSA’s internal “Intellipedia,” though The Intercept does not have access to copies of the linked sites. However, embedded within Intellipedia HTML files available to The Intercept are references to a variety of NSA-Palantir programs, including “Palantir Classification Helper,” “[Target Knowledge Base] to Palantir PXML,” and “PalantirAuthService.” (Internal Palantir documents obtained by TechCrunch in 2013 provide additional confirmation of the NSA’s relationship with the company.)

One Palantir program used by GCHQ, a software plug-in named “Kite,” was preserved almost in its entirety among documents provided to The Intercept. An analysis of Kite’s source code shows just how much flexibility the company afforded Five Eyes spies. Developers and analysts could ingest data locally using either Palantir’s “Workspace” application or Kite. When they were satisfied the process was working properly, they could push it into a Palantir data repository where other Workspace users could also access it, almost akin to a Google Spreadsheets collaboration. When analysts were at their Palantir workstation, they could perform simple imports of static data, but when they wanted to perform more complicated tasks like import databases or set up recurring automatic imports, they turned to Kite.

Kite worked by importing intelligence data and converting it into an XML file that could be loaded into a Palantir data repository. Out of the box, Kite was able to handle a variety of types of data (including dates, images, geolocations, etc.), but GCHQ was free to extend it by writing custom fields for complicated types of data the agency might need to analyze. The import tools were designed to handle a variety of use cases, including static data sets, databases that were updated frequently, and data stores controlled by third parties to which GCHQ was able to gain access.

This collaborative environment also produced a piece of software called “XKEYSCORE Helper,” a tool programmed with Palantir (and thoroughly stamped with its logo) that allowed analysts to essentially import data from the NSA’s pipeline, investigate and visualize it through Palantir, and then presumably pass it to fellow analysts or Five Eyes intelligence partners. One of XKEYSCORE’s only apparent failings is that it’s so incredibly powerful, so effective at vacuuming personal metadata from the entire internet, that the volume of information it extracts can be overwhelming. Imagine trying to search your Gmail account, only the results are pulled from every Gmail inbox in the world.

Making XKEYSCORE more intelligible — and thus much more effective — appears to have been one of Palantir’s chief successes. The helper tool, documented in a GCHQ PDF guide, provided a means of transferring data captured by the NSA’s XKEYSCORE directly into Palantir, where presumably it would be far easier to analyze for, say, specific people and places. An analyst using XKEYSCORE could pull every IP address in Moscow and Tehran that visited a given website or made a Skype call at 14:15 Eastern Time, for example, and then import the resulting data set into Palantir in order to identify additional connections between the addresses or plot their positions using Google Earth.

Palantir was also used as part of a GCHQ project code-named LOVELY HORSE, which sought to improve the agency’s ability to collect so-called open source intelligence — data available on the public internet, like tweets, blog posts, and news articles. Given the “unstructured” nature of this kind of data, Palantir was cited as “an enrichment to existing [LOVELY HORSE] investigations … the content should then be viewable in a human readable format within Palantir.”

Palantir’s impressive data-mining abilities are well-documented, but so too is the potential for misuse. Palantir software is designed to make it easy to sift through piles of information that would be completely inscrutable to a human alone, but the human driving the computer is still responsible for making judgments, good or bad.

A 2011 document by GCHQ’s SIGINT Development Steering Group, a staff committee dedicated to implementing new spy methods, listed some of these worries. In a table listing “risks & challenges,” the SDSG expressed a “concern that [Palantir] gives the analyst greater potential for going down too many analytical paths which could distract from the intelligence requirement.” What it could mean for analysts to distract themselves by going down extraneous “paths” while browsing the world’s most advanced spy machine is left unsaid. But Palantir’s data-mining abilities were such that the SDSG wondered if its spies should be blocked from having full access right off the bat and suggested configuring Palantir software so that parts would “unlock … based on analysts skill level, hiding buttons and features until needed and capable of utilising.” If Palantir succeeded in fixing the intelligence problem of being overwhelmed with data, it may have created a problem of over-analysis — the company’s software offers such a multitude of ways to visualize and explore massive data sets that analysts could get lost in the funhouse of infographics, rather than simply being overwhelmed by the scale of their task.

If Palantir’s potential for misuse occurred to the company’s spy clients, surely it must have occurred to Palantir itself, especially given the company’s aforementioned “commitment” to privacy and civil liberties. Sure enough, in 2012 the company announced the formation of the Palantir Council of Advisors on Privacy and Civil Liberties, a committee of academics and consultants with expertise in those fields. Palantir claimed that convening the PCAP had “provided us with invaluable guidance as we try to responsibly navigate the often ill-defined legal, political, technological, and ethical frameworks that sometimes govern the various activities of our customers,” and continued to discuss the privacy and civil liberties “implications of product developments and to suggest potential ways to mitigate any negative effects.” Still, Palantir made clear that the “PCAP is advisory only — any decisions that we make after consulting with the PCAP are entirely our own.”

What would a privacy-minded conversation about privacy-breaching software look like? How had a privacy and civil liberties council navigated the fact that Palantir’s clientele had directly engaged in one of the greatest privacy and civil liberties breaches of all time? It’s hard to find an answer.

Palantir wrote that it structured the nondisclosure agreement signed by PCAP members so that they “will be free to discuss anything that they learn in working with us unless we clearly designate information as proprietary or otherwise confidential (something that we have rarely found necessary except on very limited occasions).” But despite this assurance of transparency, all but one of the PCAP’s former and current members either did not return a request for comment for this article or declined to comment citing the NDA.

The former PCAP member who did respond, Stanford privacy scholar Omer Tene, told The Intercept that he was unaware of “any specific relationship, agreement, or project that you’re referring to,” and said he was not permitted to answer whether Palantir’s work with the intelligence community was ever a source of tension with the PCAP. He declined to comment on either the NSA or GCHQ specifically. “In general,” Tene said, “the role of the PCAP was to hear about client engagement or new products and offerings that the company was about to launch, and to opine as to the way they should be set up or delivered in order to minimize privacy and civil liberties concerns.” But without any further detail, it’s unclear whether the PCAP was ever briefed on the company’s work for spy agencies, or whether such work was a matter of debate.

There’s little detail to be found on archived versions of Palantir’s privacy and civil liberties-focused blog, which appears to have been deleted sometime after the PCAP was formed. Palantir spokesperson Matt Long told The Intercept to contact the Palantir media team for questions regarding the vanished blog at the same email address used to reach Long in the first place. Palantir did not respond to additional repeated requests for comment and clarification.

A GCHQ spokesperson provided a boilerplate statement reiterating the agency’s “longstanding policy” against commenting on intelligence matters and asserted that all its activities are “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework.” The NSA did not provide a response.

Anyone worried that the most powerful spy agencies on Earth might use Palantir software to violate the privacy or civil rights of the vast number of people under constant surveillance may derive some cold comfort in a portion of the user agreement language Palantir provided for the Kite plug-in, which stipulates that the user will not violate “any applicable law” or the privacy or the rights “of any third party.” The world will just have to hope Palantir’s most powerful customers follow the rules.


Why Do “Progressives” Like War?

Fleeing to Canada is no longer an option

February 21, 2017

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

Liberals are supposed to be antiwar, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who were not being motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.

As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment and generally speaking are retired limousine liberals. And they now call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. But they also have done a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Bill Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. And more recently we have seen the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen and Syria in so called humanitarian interventions which have turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems it was “responsibility to protect time” (r2p) and all the world trembled as the drones were let loose.

Last Friday I started to read an op-ed in The Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system.” It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in the terms that have been repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media. And it was, of course, lacking in any evidence, as if the opinions of coopted journalists and the highly politicized senior officials in the intelligence community should be regarded as sacrosanct. These are, not coincidentally, the same people who have reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.

Ignatius is well plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish but he is also a typical Post politically correct progressive on most issues. So here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that has not been demonstrated and might be completely untrue. Russia is attacking “our political system!” And The Post is not alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from The New York Times and on television news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American ‘hysteria’ relating to anything coming out of Moscow.

Rachel Maddow is another favorite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on January 26th she roundly chastised Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely when Donald Trump was elected, is now keen to demonstrate that Trump has been corrupted by Russia and is now controlled out of the Kremlin. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to get to the bottom of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy.” Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.

Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow are not alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it is not, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous maneuvering that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it would not hesitate use nuclear weapons if it is being confronted militarily and facing defeat.

The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that has long bedeviled a certain type of American know-nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there is a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham has recently said “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.”

It is my belief that many in the National Security State have convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the United States and not because it is a nuclear armed power that can strike the U.S. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it is seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump.

No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and Ukraine. Plus, it is a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the U.S. sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that are euphemistically described as “peace missions.”

There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the treasuring into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military industrial congressional complex, but my real fear is that, having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat against U.S. vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the U.S. has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the United States. In fact, it is Washington that is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilizing entire regions, not Moscow, and when Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the U.S. was not so innocent it was a gross understatement.

Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the John McCain camp which demonizes Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain has never found a war he couldn’t support. It would be a tragedy for the United States if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.

Israel interferes in our politics all the time, and it’s never a scandal

February 15, 2017

by Philip Weiss


I completely believe that Donald Trump was in bed with the Russians before the election and the campaign may well have intrigued with Vladimir Putin with respect to Wikileaks and that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. I believe that because that’s how the world works; because a lot of very smart people in the liberal establishment believe it; and because the New York Times and Washington Post are documenting some of it, with the fervor of Watergate.

Maybe it will bring the liar in chief down some day and end this short national nightmare. I certainly hope so.

But there are two large exceptions to the Russian conspiracy. The first is that it is good policy for the United States to be talking to Russia. If Clinton were president today, there might be dogfights over Damascus. Her gang was all for regime change in Syria, and for confrontation over the Ukraine. That’s bad policy. I’m glad they’re not running the show– though they are certainly running this story. Before you get too upset about Russia winking at the sanctions, the scandal that brought down Michael Flynn, please recall that in 2012, President Obama sent secret signals to Iran to ignore congressional sanctions, we’ll be talking to you once I’m reelected. Obama got reelected; and his deal with Iran is one of the greatest achievements of a very good presidency. Again, this is how the world works.

Which brings up the second exception. Israel tried to interfere in that 2012 election, as Chris Matthews sensibly reminded his audience recently: Benjamin Netanyahu tried to help Mitt Romney beat Obama. Sheldon Adelson held a fundraiser in Jerusalem for Romney.

Netanyahu didn’t stop there. After Romney lost, Netanyahu came to Congress to tell the Congress to reject President Obama’s nuclear deal. That was an unprecedented interference of a foreign leader in our policy-making, enabled by the Israel lobby; but there were never any investigations about that. Subsequently Chuck Schumer said he was torn between a Jewish interest and the American interest, before voting against the president, and he paid no political/reputational price for it; while President Obama said that it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty if he considered Israel’s interest ahead of the U.S.; for which Obama was called an anti-semite.

Throughout those negotiations, Obama could never address the fact that Israel has nukes. This lie is honored by the press, in a way that it would never honor Trump’s lies. And the manner in which Israel got nukes, including thefts from an American company with the complicity of the White House, is only investigated by peripheral figures.

The Israeli interference in our politics is the conspiracy in plain sight that no one in the media talks about because they’re too implicated themselves. The two top executives at the largest media company, Comcast, are pro-Israel; one of them, David Cohen, raised money for the Israeli army. Netanyahu’s speeches to Congress were written by Gary Ginsberg, an executive at another media company, Time Warner, but hey, that’s not an issue. Four New York Times reporters have had children serve in the Israeli army. One of them is columnist David Brooks, who says that he gets gooey-eyed when he visits Israel. He is one of several Zionists with columns at the Times. Tom Friedman justified the Iraq War because suicide bombers were going into Tel Aviv pizza parlors. (Huh?) Yesterday Martin Indyk said on National Public Radio that Jared Kushner’s strong Jewish background was an asset for his being a Middle East mediator, a job that Aaron David Miller, who also has a strong Jewish background, defined as being Israel’s lawyer. Indyk, himself a mediator, started a pro-Israel thinktank with Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who was Clinton’s biggest funder and who lately smeared Keith Ellison at a giant gathering at Brookings, which he also helps fund, as “clearly an anti-semite” and “anti-Israel;” and Jake Tapper of CNN moved on to the next question, presumably because smearing a public official in that manner is not news. Saban is also chummy with Jeffrey Goldberg, one of whose qualifications for being the best journalist in his generation, according to the Atlantic’s publisher, is that he served in the Israeli Defense Forces, because he felt that America was unsafe for Jews. One of Goldberg’s first hires as editor at the Atlantic is Julia Ioffe, who hates Russia, and who told a synagogue audience last year after she was attacked as a Jew by Trump supporters: “Personally I was kind of glad to see the outpouring of antisemitism” because people had forgotten that Jews and Israel are the “underdog.” At another NY synagogue, believing that he was speaking off the record, Dennis Ross, the longtime White House “mediator” of the peace process, said that American Jews must be “advocates” for Israel, not for Palestinians. Again, not a scandal. But when Rashid Khalidi, who wrote a book about the U.S. being imbalanced in the peace process, warned that neoconservatives would “infest” the Trump administration, he was smeared up and down as an anti-semite.

I could go on and on. I can’t because Netanyahu is in the White House today, and I need to get on the news. Netanyahu who President Obama met with countless times, Netanyahu who John Kerry talked to as secretary of state four times as often as he spoke to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Which is hardly surprising, because as Kerry complained to Jeffrey Goldberg, we give Israel more military aid than we give the rest of the world combined, and meantime they ignore our warnings. They can ignore us because of the Israel lobby, including AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which doesn’t have to register as a foreign agent because of sleight-of-hand they pulled back in the 60s, defying Senator Fulbright.  AIPAC never gets called for this because the two countries are viewed to have completely congruent interests– when we don’t. So Phil Gordon leaves the State Department and goes to a conference in Israel just like Super Bowl winners going to Disneyland; all the Israeli ambassadors grew up in the States; and Benjamin Netanyahu came of age here, a subject that is never considered problematic; because we have a political discourse in which a leading liberal journalist, Eric Alterman, brags: “I was raised dually loyal my whole life.”

Alterman told a Jewish audience in New York he was alright with that because the U.S. can take a hit but Israel can’t. He then conceded that “bin Laden and 9/11 were to some degree inspired by U.S. support of Israel,” and so are the “pool of potential terrorists who want to attack the United States.” Though: “Dammit, if that’s the price we have to pay, then I’m willing to pay it.”

Other Americans may make a different calculation of U.S. interests. But let’s talk about Russia.

Accurate medical diagnosis

February 22, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Five surgeons were discussing who makes the best patients to operate on.

The first surgeon said, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.”

The second responded, “Yes, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded.”

The third surgeon said, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.”

The fourth surgeon chimed in: “You know, I like construction workers…those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: “You’re all wrong! Politicians are the easiest to operate on. They have no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, plus, the head and the ass are interchangeable.”

How Israel became a leader in cyber security and surveillance

February 21, 2017

by Tim Johnson


SAN FRANCISCO  — Israel, with a population of just eight million people, has become a powerhouse in cybersecurity. Only the United States has greater strength in the field.

“In Israel, there are 420 companies in the field of cybersecurity that get funded by venture capital,” said Lior Div, chief executive and co-founder of Cybereason, a company with offices in Boston and Tel Aviv.

A good number of the Israeli companies have one thing in common: Their founders emerged from an elite division of the Israel Defense Forces known as Unit 8200, a legendary high-tech spy branch that also has become a prolific technology incubator.

Unit 8200, which comprises several thousand cyber warriors, is the Israeli equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency and is under the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Among the unit’s missions are offensive strategy, cybersecurity, encryption and signals intelligence.

Most of its members are still teenagers, selected for their math and science skills but still untrained at formal universities. Nearly all Israelis must serve a stint in the IDF but only a select few are recruited into 8200.

“This is a unit that has first pick to take the one percent of one percent of people who have a specific capability,” said Div, who won a medal of honor for his work in the unit

“You literally grow up with the unit’s motto of everything is possible. There is no such thing as impossible. This is beat into you since Day One,” said Yonatan Striem-Amit, another Unit 8200 veteran who is Cybereason’s chief technology officer.

Staffing the unit with skilled, talented innocents is a positive rather than a negative, its veterans say.

“You tell them, ‘Hey, there is a problem here that you need to solve.’ What you are not telling them is that five different teams tried to solve it and failed,” Div said.

Motivated by patriotism, aware of the proximity of mortal enemies with increasing cyber skills, and without superiors insisting on traditional ways of doing things, the unit’s members dive headlong into task-oriented challenges.

“When you are young and you don’t have a family, you don’t have anything else in life but that,” said Giora Engel, a 35-year-old 8200 veteran who is cofounder of LightCyber, another cybersecurity firm.

Engel recalled how astonished he was at the capabilities and technologies of the unit.

“It’s the most cutting edge that you can think about,” Engel said. “Before I joined the army, I didn’t realize how advanced it was.”

Veterans of the unit – and other IDF units with a cyber function – form a fraternity of sorts that have seeded the cybersecurity world. That was apparent last week in the halls of the RSA cybersecurity conference, an annual gathering named for its corporate organizer that drew more than 43,000 participants to San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

“There’s a joke around RSA that it’s the only place in the U.S. where you ask instructions in Hebrew and get the answer in Hebrew,” said Striem-Amit.

A few big-name cybersecurity firms started by 8200 alums include Check Point Software Technologies, a Tel Aviv-headquartered firm, and CyberArk, which has its headquarters in Newton, Massachusetts. And new companies emerge each year. Forty Israeli start-up cyber companies raised $360 million last year, part of the $850 million that poured into acquisitions and investment in the sector, according to the Cyber Research Databank.

Their focuses include threat intelligence; security of the cloud, mobile devices and connected cars; industrial automation security; incident response; and user behavior analysis and data mining.

“If you look at the Israeli high-tech economy, the overall majority of companies are driven and were created by people in the intelligence community, of which 8200 is the shining beacon at the top,” Striem-Amit said.

“(Unit) 8200 became like the buzzword of cybersecurity expertise,” said Kobi Freedman, founder of Comilion, a collaborative intelligence-sharing platform that was sold last month to Dell-EMC, a Hopkinton, Massachusetts, data storage and information security company.

Freedman said veterans of elite IDF units gain world-class experience at a young age.

“A lot of them don’t need to be instructed. They solve problems,” Freedman said.

Entrepreneurship comes easily to the veterans, who serve three- to five-year stints.

“We have missions,” said Almog Ohayon, founder of Javelin Networks of Tel Aviv, and a veteran of Ofek, the IDF’s satellite and reconnaissance division. “You need to eliminate someone or find someone. You have to complete the mission. It’s very similar to start-up culture. The start-up world is task oriented.”

Not all of Israel’s high-tech cyber firms have a positive reputation. A few specialize in wiretapping and internet monitoring technology that governments and security forces have used against dissidents in places like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, South Sudan and Uzbekistan.

In a report released last July, London-based Privacy International, a nonprofit watchdog group, cited 27 surveillance companies with headquarters in Israel, and said exports of the technologies “foster military, security and diplomatic ties with recipient countries” with little regard for human rights.

“Investigations published by Privacy International show that Israeli companies have provided phone and internet monitoring technologies to the secret police in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as well as security forces in Colombia,” the report said. “Agencies in Panama and Mexico have reportedly been customers of intrusion technology developed by Israeli NSO Group.”

Freedman, the engineer who founded Comilion, said Israel’s defense ministry issues licenses for the export of any technology that involves surveillance.

“A lot of technologies can be exploited to serve unjust causes. Part of the so-called bad reputation . . . is from countries who take certain technologies and use it to do bad things,” he said.

“Israel didn’t invent surveillance,” Freedman added.

It’s all part of the skills imparted through the IDF training in its elite units.

“The reality is you get a tool set that is so big and so rich that you have to find a problem,” Striem-Amit said. “An entrepreneur from 8200 finds the right business problem and thinks outside the box.”

Engel, seated at the edge of a cavernous exposition center filled with booths from cybersecurity companies from all over the globe, said veterans of 8200 like himself are playing a growing role.

“I think I know over 1,000 people from the unit,” Engel said. “It’s kind of a brand name.”


The Deep Rabbit Hole of Israel Spying on America

June 15, 2015

by Naji Dahi


In 2014, it was revealed that Israel was spying on the secret negotiations between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members (China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the United States plus Germany—together known as P5+1) regarding Iran’s nuclear program. More recently, it was revealed that Swiss and Austrian authorities are investigating the extent of said spying. Israel has denied any involvement in the matter, but a spying virus linked to the Israelis was found on the computers of three hotels where the negotiations are hosted.

It may come as a shock to some Americans, but Israel has a long history of spying on the U.S. government, its military, and private sector corporations. While it is common for allies to spy on each other, Israel’s spying is unprecedented in its depth and intensity. According to Newsweek,“Israel’s espionage activities in America are unrivaled and unseemly, counterspies have told members of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees, going far beyond activities by other close allies, such as Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan. A congressional staffer familiar with a briefing last January called the testimony ‘very sobering…alarming…even terrifying.’”

Another staffer called it “damaging.”

The spying is even more shocking given the extent of America’s generosity towards Israel. By all accounts, Israel has received $233.7 billion in direct military aid (among many other benefits) from the U.S. over the last six decades. According to If Americans Knew, an independent research institute, since the early 1970s,

“The US has given more aid to Israel than it has to all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined—which have a total population of over a billion people…In all, direct US disbursements to Israel are higher than to any other country, even though Israelis only make up 0.1% of the world’s population. On average, Israelis receive 7,000 times more US foreign aid per capita than other people throughout the world, despite the fact that Israel is one of the world’s more affluent nations.”

So how far back does Israeli spying go? According to one source, Israeli surveillance of the United States dates back to 1954 when “the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv discovered in his office a hidden microphone ‘planted by the Israelis.’”

In 1965, it was revealed that 100 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium was missing from a U.S. research facility. Israel was suspected of stealing the material for its nuclear weapons program. The Bulletin wrote that “The evidence available for our 2010 Bulletin article persuaded us that Israel did steal uranium from the Apollo, Pennsylvania, plant of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC).”

Closely related to the smuggling of uranium was the most infamous case of Israeli spying—that of U.S. naval intelligence officer, Jonathan Pollard, and his wife. On November 21, 1985, Jonathan Pollard was arrested for espionage while trying to seek asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. Thus began one of the most damaging thefts of American national security documents. According to one source, Pollard stole “an estimated 800,000 code-word protected documents from inside the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and numerous other U.S. agencies.” Pollard and his wife pleaded guilty. She was sentenced to two five-year prison terms but was released early because of her illness. She has since left for Israel and campaigns on behalf of an early release of her husband. Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison but is eligible for parole in 2015. Israel granted Pollard citizenship and has pressured presidents Bush, Clinton, and Obama for his early release. The damage to U.S. national security was such that whenever the subject was brought up, a number of high-ranking national security officials threatened to resign. Pollard has yet to be released.

Another spy that also helped Israel in its quest for nuclear weapons was the 84-year-old Ben-Ami Kadish. After two decades of providing an unnamed Israeli official with sensitive information about the U.S.’ nuclear secrets and weapons programs, Kadish was arrested. He pleaded guilty and paid a $50,000 fine, but did not serve time due to old age and infirmity. One wonders why the FBI took so long to find and arrest the spy. Curiously, both Pollard and Kadish allegedly had the same Israeli handler. Even the sentencing judge wondered “[why] it took the government 23 years to charge Mr. Kadish.”

Finally, there is the case of Lawrence Franklin, who was arrested in 2005 and charged under the Espionage Act. In January 2006, he was convicted and sent to jail for 12 years for passing secret Department of Defense documents to two high-ranking AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) officials. The two AIPAC officials were also indicted in 2005 as co-conspirators, but the charges against them were dropped four years later after a court required a “higher level of proof of intent to spy. The court said the prosecution would have to prove not only that the accused pair had passed classified information but that they intended to harm the US in doing so.” One wonders why the court all of a sudden required a higher burden of proof. Justin Raimondo suggests that the dropping of charges is indicative of the power of AIPAC.

As can be seen from the few cases highlighted here (there are more), there is a long history of Israeli spying on the U.S. What is new about the spying on the nuclear negotiations is the involvement of other actors (Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany). Unlike the United States, which has tolerated and condoned Israeli spying (Israel apologized and promised not to do it again after the Pollard case), these other actors may not take kindly to Israeli spying and might inflict punitive diplomatic and/or criminal sanctions against Israel. That remains to be seen, pending the results of the Austrian and Swiss investigation. This story is far from over given Israel’s intense opposition to the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran.


Israeli spies on America: An ongoing threat from a false friend

February 22, 2017

by Horst Grumkow

Berlin-Between 1998 and early 2001, more than 200 Israeli nationals were arrested or detained inside the United States, on a variety of visa violations and other nominally petty violations, including low-level drug trafficking. The majority of these detainees claimed they were Israeli art students, peddling art work to cover their college tuitions; or were toy vendors, employed by an Israeli-owned Miami Beach company, Quality Sales Corporation, which investigations link to Israel’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency.

The emerging pattern of surveillance of American government facilities, and established links to suspected Arab and Islamic terrorist cells prior to Sept. 11, by these Israeli nationals, set off alarm bells, following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Prior to Sept. 11, a series of highly-classified government memos had been circulated by the CIA and the NSA, pronouncing this Israeli espionage operation a major national security problem.

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 US. The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject that is ever discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the extreme sensitivity of the US-Israel relationship coupled with the burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to criticize the Jewish state. . .

In 2005 the FBI noted 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 US policies or decisions relating to Israel.” In 1979, the Central Intelligence Agency produced a scathing survey of Israeli intelligence activities that targeted the US government. Like any worthy spy service, Israeli intelligence early on employed wiretaps as an effective tool, according to the CIA report. In 1954, the US 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 US military attaché 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 US 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.” . The agency, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP), was set up by the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to second-guess CIA information and operated under the patronage of hard-line conservatives in the top rungs of the administration, the Pentagon and at the White House, including Vice-President Dick Cheney.

As the most powerful man in the White House, Cheney was deeply involved in the intelligence field and made three trips to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to demand a more ‘forward-leaning interpretation’ of information relating to the possibility that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. That there were no such weapons and that the CIA so advised the Vice President, he refused to accept their analysis and continued to insist that they produce documents supporting his thesis. In this he was aided by his chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, The latter was later convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison.

The OSP had access to an enormous amount of “raw” intelligence which came, in part, from the CIA’s directorate of operations whose job it is to receive and evaluate incoming reports from their agents around the world. At Cheney’s insistence, a number of Israeli intelligence agents were given free run of the OSP offices   “None of the Israelis who came were cleared into the Pentagon through normal channels,” said one source familiar with the visits. Instead, they were waved in on Mr Douglas Feith’s authority without having to fill in the usual forms.











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