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60 Israelis who had been detained in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorism investigation.
Carl Cameron Investigates Part 2
Part 2 of 4 (Originally from Fox News)
BRIT HUME, HOST: Last time we reported on the approximately 60 Israelis who had been detained in connection with the Sept. 11 terrorism investigation. Carl Cameron reported that U.S. investigators suspect that some of these Israelis were spying on Arabs in this country, and may have turned up information on the planned terrorist attacks back in September that was not passed on.
Tonight, in the second of four reports on spying by Israelis in the U.S., we learn about an Israeli-based private communications company, for whom a half-dozen of those 60 detained suspects worked. American investigators fear information generated by this firm may have fallen into the wrong hands and had the effect of impeded the Sept. 11 terror inquiry. Here's Carl Cameron's second report.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fox News has learned that some American terrorist investigators fear certain suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them, by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone. How?
By obtaining and analyzing data that's generated every time someone in the U.S. makes a call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What city and state, please?
CAMERON: Here's how the system works. Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private elecommunications company.
Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it.
In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing. But sources tell Fox News that in 1999, the super secret national security agency, headquartered in northern Maryland, issued what's called a Top Secret sensitive compartmentalized information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States were getting into foreign hands – in Israel, in particular.
Investigators don't believe calls are being listened to, but the data about who is calling whom and when is plenty valuable in itself. An internal Amdocs memo to senior company executives suggests just how Amdocs generated call records could be used. “Widespread data mining techniques and algorithms.... combining both the properties of the customer (e.g., credit rating) and properties of the specific ‘behavior….’” Specific behavior, such as who the customers are calling.
The Amdocs memo says the system should be used to prevent phone fraud. But U.S. counterintelligence analysts say it could also be used to spy through the phone system. Fox News has learned that the N.S.A has held numerous classified conferences to warn the F.B.I. and C.I.A. how Amdocs records could be used. At one NSA briefing, a diagram by the Argon national lab was used to show that if the phone records are not secure, major security breaches are possible.
Another briefing document said, "It has become increasingly apparent that systems and networks are vulnerable.…Such crimes always involve unauthorized persons, or persons who exceed their authorization...citing on exploitable vulnerabilities."
Those vulnerabilities are growing, because according to another briefing, the U.S. relies too much on foreign companies like Amdocs for high-tech equipment and software. "Many factors have led to increased dependence on code developed overseas.... We buy rather than train or develop solutions."
U.S. intelligence does not believe the Israeli government is involved in a misuse of information, and Amdocs insists that its data is secure. What U.S. government officials are worried about, however, is the possibility that Amdocs data could get into the wrong hands, particularly organized crime. And that would not be the first thing that such a thing has happened. Fox News has documents of a 1997 drug trafficking case in Los Angeles, in which telephone information, the type that Amdocs collects, was used to "completely compromise the communications of the FBI, the Secret Service, the DEO and the LAPD."
We'll have that and a lot more in the days ahead – Brit.
HUME: Carl, I want to take you back to your report last night on those 60 Israelis who were detained in the anti-terror investigation, and the suspicion that some investigators have that they may have picked up information on the 9/11 attacks ahead of time and not passed it on.
There was a report, you'll recall, that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, did indeed send representatives to the U.S. to warn, just before 9/11, that a major terrorist attack was imminent. How does that leave room for the lack of a warning?
CAMERON: I remember the report, Brit. We did it first internationally right here on your show on the 14th. What investigators are saying is that that warning from the Mossad was nonspecific and general, and they believe that it may have had something to do with the desire to protect what are called sources and methods in the intelligence community. The suspicion being, perhaps those sources and methods were taking place right here in the United States.
The question came up in select intelligence committee on Capitol Hill today. They intend to look into what we reported last night, and specifically that possibility – Brit.
HUME: So in other words, the problem wasn't lack of a warning, the problem was lack of useful details?
CAMERON: Quantity of information.
HUME: All right, Carl, thank you very much.
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