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NSA and Israel: Spying on Americans and Each Other

By       Message Larry Toenjes     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 9/14/13

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Background:   Israel, Israeli firms, and espionage against the U.S.

The involvement of Verint and Narus in the siphoning of data from AT&T and Verison communication systems is well established, as the article in Haaretz referenced above indicates.   For example, included in documents obtained by Mark Klein, the original whistleblower who in 2004 revealed the secret room 641A linked to AT&T telephone lines, was an equipment list that included a major device built by Narus.   The capability of this equipment and associated software is touted in Narus' own website today.


Narus nSystem is a portfolio of analytics solutions that apply automated machine-based algorithms to process 100% of network packets to discover, analyze, and understand every interaction on a network. nSystem develops rich profiles of every interaction to provide deeper context for faster, more accurate awareness. Analysts can immediately home in on critical issues instead of wasting time on unimportant conditions or manually trying to piece together data to see the big picture.

A Narus graphic on the previously linked page depicts a Network Traffic Beam going into one side of a prism, with three beams of information emerging from another side.   The emerging information flows are labeled as follows:


o    IP addresses, ports,hosts (client,server), protocols, services, applications (fixed, mobile),devices and locations


o    Content, topics, trends, communities, locations     

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o    Presence, profiles, identities, associations, relationships

o    [see]

Note the three-level hierarchy of analysis - addresses, content, and user associations and relationships. The first level is of the type "who called whom and when?" This is referred to as metadata, devoid of content but rich in associations and relationships.   The second level accessed by the Narus nSystem is the content itself, and analysis based upon it.   The third level brings in everything else that can be found--credit ratings, credit card transactions, travel receipts, memberships, book purchases, Google search terms used, and on-and-on.   A prism shape is used to represent the separation of the information flows.   An actual glass prism was used to divert telephone call information flowing through glass fiber optics to the secret room in the San Francisco AT&T center.   Thus the name Prism used to identify part of the NSA surveillance system.

In 1994 Congress passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).   This act was designed to address the problems created for intelligence and law enforcement agencies by the rapid evolution of digital communications, replacing the earlier analog systems.   Traditional eavesdropping methods had become essentially obsolete.   The CALEA act required that all modes of communications have a means by which the U.S. government could tap into them.   One of the enforcement measures was that devices and systems that did not have such capability could not be exported.

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The requirements imposed by CALEA were in the process of being implemented when 9/11 occurred.   This greatly accelerated and expanded the perceived needs of such communications intercept capability.   The result was that the Narus/Verint equipment and software, being the best, and being available, was quickly and widely adopted.

Some excerpts from James Bamford's Wired article, referenced by Haaretz, are included below.   The Binney referred to is William Binney, a career US intelligence officer who left the NSA after attempting, through the chain of command, to bring attention to a failed and wasteful NSA surveillance system called Trailblazer.   After leaving the NSA he was publicly critical of the NSA for spying on US citizens. This resulted in charges being brought against him, from which he was eventually cleared. [see]

Bamford (from Wired , 2012): "The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. "I think there's 10 to 20 of them," Binney says. "That's not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast""

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Laurence A.Toenjes is retired from the University of Houston ?s Department of Sociology where he was a researcher with The Sociology of Education Research Group. Toenjes received his doctorate in economics from Southern Illinois University.

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