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Friday, June 14, 2013

Mass surveillance goes global


NSA, the secret AT&T spy room, and 2 Israeli companies

In James Bamford’s 2008 interview, he mentions two Israeli companies, Narus and Verint, that almost nobody knew about. They played a key role in developing and selling the technology that allowed NSA to deploy its PRISM spying program:
Bamford: “Yeah. There’s two major — or not major, they’re small companies, but they service the two major telecom companies. This company, Narus, which was founded in Israel and has large Israel connections, does the — basically the tapping of the communications on AT&T. And Verizon chose another company, ironically also founded in Israel and largely controlled by and developed by people in Israel called Verint.

So these two companies specialize in what’s known as mass surveillance. Their literature — I read this literature from Verint, for example — is supposed to only go to intelligence agencies and so forth, and it says, ‘We specialize in mass surveillance,’ and that’s what they do.

They put [this] mass surveillance equipment in these facilities. So you have AT&T, for example, that, you know, considers it’s their job to get messages from one person to another, not tapping into messages, and you get the NSA that says, we want, you know, copies of all this. So that’s where these [two Israeli] companies come in. These companies act as the intermediary basically between the telecom companies and the NSA.”

AMY GOODMAN: “Now, Jim Bamford, take this a step further, because you say the founder and former CEO of one of these companies [Verint] is now a fugitive from the United States somewhere in Africa?”

JAMES BAMFORD: “…the company that Verizon uses, Verint, the founder of the company, the former head of the company, is now a fugitive in — hiding out in Africa in the country of Namibia, because he’s wanted on a number of felony warrants for fraud and other charges. And then, two other top executives of the company, the general counsel and another top official of the parent company, have also pled guilty to these charges.

So, you know, you’ve got companies — these [two] companies have foreign connections with potential ties to foreign intelligence agencies, and you have problems of credibility, problems of honesty and all that. And these companies — through these two companies pass probably 80 percent or more of all US communications at one point or another.

And it’s even — gets even worse in the fact that these companies also supply their equipment all around the world to other countries, to countries that don’t have a lot of respect for individual rights —- Vietnam, China, Libya, other countries like that. And so, these countries use this equipment to filter out dissident communications and people trying to protest the government. It gives them the ability to eavesdrop on communications and monitor dissident email communications. And as a result of that, people are put in jail, and so forth…”

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