Saturday, July 12, 2008

Was Obama's FISA Betrayal Encouraged by The Israel Lobby?

It's rockin' right now at New Group Wants To Overthrow Obama At Convention and the author is Thomas B. Edsall, one of their most respected essayists.

Maybe, just maybe, a bunch of delegates to the Democratic Convention in Denver will change their minds at the last minute. Maybe there is an outside chance that between now and the last week of August a critical mass will decide that Barack Obama is not their guy -- that, to the surprise of one and all, Hillary Rodham Clinton is to be the 2008 nominee after all.

That is the thinking behind a small but determined band of Hillary backers, some of whom have formed a 527 fundraising committee that has already run one $9,700 ad in the Chicago Tribune, and plans more in the weeks to come.

The Denver Group:
Keeping the Democratic Party democratic, created by Georgetown Law professor Heidi Li Feldman and freelance advertising man Marc Rubin, ran an ad in Friday's Chicago Tribune declaring:

"Senator Clinton's name must be put in nomination. Her supporters must be allowed to make speeches on her behalf of her candidacy. There must be an honest roll call vote, not a symbolic one, so superdelegates can cast their votes honestly, for either candidate, as their judgment, conscience and democratic principles dictate."

Feldman told the Huffington Post that the goal of the Denver Group "is to insure substantive and legitimate selection of the nominee." DNC chairman and other party leaders "should be taking responsibility for making sure it's a legitimate procedure. They cannot demand that people simply unify around either one of them."

Feldman argued that it is entirely conceivable that an open vote could produce a Clinton victory. "Then, the decision comes down to the superdelegates. I have no Idea what they are going to do six weeks from now.".... read the entire article here.

Edsall has this framed as a rebellion by disgruntled Hillary supporters such as those at P.U.M.A. (Party Unity My Ass). That's only partly true; the energy for the uprising is coming from Obama Progressives who feel betrayed by their candidate's recent unexplained flip-flop to vote in support of the 4th-Amendment-crushing FISA juggernaut pushed through by AIPAC, a trampling of civil liberties that gave Bush much more than he even asked for in terms of legalized spying on the American people, including its notorious provision for retroactive telecom immunity from civil litigation and criminal accountability. This, despite opposition by 70% of American citizens.

Progressives also watched wearily last week, despite his promise early on in the primaries to limit the influence of lobbies -- a promise that produced a surge of support among progressives and then sustained him throughout the primaries once Dennis Kucinich dropped from the race -- as Obama negotiated with the Israel Lobby during recent visits in Washington D.C.. He is also suspected by progressives of having negotiated with
the NRA and the religious right wing, resulting in his statements of support for the recent Supreme Court's radical reaffirmation of the 2nd Amendment and what seemed like pandering support for the death penalty in cases of pedophile violence as well as his announcement on behalf of the continuance of Bush's Faith-Based Initiative.

In fact, he has stopped speaking of removing the influence of special interests all together, a reform that is seen as absolutely essential by progressives if we are to re-establish the American Republic.

Several watchdog groups and journalists, including Tom Flocco, reported that in late 2001 Carl Cameron of Fox News investigated an Israeli telecom network that may have warned the Bush Administration, through its internal Mossad and CIA connections, about the coming terrorist attack on 9/11. The four-part series has since been removed from their internet website by Fox News.

Despite Fox's apparent cooperation with government censorship, a few mirror sites continue to feature the series. Non-government analysts who have reviewed Carl Cameron's suppressed investigative journalism now think Cameron may have unwittingly turned up evidence related to the Bush Administration's NSA illegal data collection systems and the contractors they use, specifically the Israeli telecom companies Amdocs and Converse-Infosys (now Verint) who provided the prior intelligence on 9/11 and who may have even participated in it's facilitation, if independent investigators looking into the connections prove accurate. [See 4-Part Fox News video series below, following this article.]

The FISA immunity provision, attached to the controversial FISA bill that passed with Obama's support last week, is said to have come attached with a classified list of 25 telecoms seeking protection from civil and criminal action associated not only with NSA's illegal spying activity, but also from further 9/11 investigation-based litigation now being demanded from grass roots organizations. French intelligence sources are said to have confirmed a list of Israeli-based companies with connections to AIPAC. AIPAC took the lead in lobbying efforts in favor of telecom immunity just at a time when Barack Obama was working furiously to gain their support; although, this editor has been unable to confirm Obama's precise motivation regarding the already infamous "flip-flop." Nevertheless, the implication is obvious.

According to Fox News, “virtually all records and billing in the U.S. are done for the telephone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunication company, contracting with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide,” said Fox chief political correspondent Carl Cameron in a four-part series—the video and transcript content of which were removed from Fox’s website after both were preserved by internet sources. [cf. Tom]
One of the main concerns raised by Cameron's series for Fox News is evidence of security breaches in the system. In effect, it means that no citizen of the United States is secure in their electronically transmitted personal communications, bank accounts, retirement funds, investment portfolios, medical records or other private demographics. It means that the United States government is not secure in its communications.

Most importantly, it leads one to wonder why the Israeli government, working through AIPAC and representing the interests of not just the Israeli private telecommunications industry, but also the Mossad and CIA partnership that worked to mine the data being produced, would have such a highly sensitive and apparently classified interest in immunity from litigation, given what we now know of their role in providing the intelligence warnings prior to 9/11 vis-a-vis these very resources. In an interview after the vote, Senator Hillary Clinton was curiously quoted to have said that the immunity provision of FISA now severely restricts future investigations into 9/11. That is quite an amazing statement when you stop and think about its implications.

Here is a portion of Senator Clinton's written statement to the press, provided at Huffington Post, that for some reason the controlled media believed insignificant or that it didn't quite communicate the talking points they were looking for:

"...But the legislation has other significant shortcomings. The legislation also makes no meaningful change to the immunity provisions. There is little disagreement that the legislation effectively grants retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies. In my judgment, immunity under these circumstances has the practical effect of shutting down a critical avenue for holding the administration accountable for its conduct. It is precisely why I have supported efforts in the Senate to strip the bill of these provisions, both today and during previous debates on this subject. Unfortunately, these efforts have been unsuccessful.

"What is more, even as we considered this legislation, the administration refused to allow the overwhelming majority of Senators to examine the warrantless wiretapping program. This made it exceedingly difficult for those Senators who are not on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees to assess the need for the operational details of the legislation, and whether greater protections are necessary. The same can be said for an assessment of the telecom immunity provisions. On an issue of such tremendous importance to our citizens - and in particular to New Yorkers - all Senators should have been entitled to receive briefings that would have enabled them to make an informed decision about the merits of this legislation. I cannot support this legislation when we know neither the nature of the surveillance activities authorized nor the role played by telecommunications companies granted immunity..."

Progressives have become increasingly concerned as well that recent nuanced modifications by Obama on Iraq may indicate the early stages of back-peddling that will lead to his caving on the major promise that has been the hallmark of his campaign -- the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. The concern is that Obama, if not by directly obfuscating and delaying withdrawal, may initiate a politically placating strategy of simply moving American forces to Afghanistan while leaving a contingent in Iraq to manage the 150,000 Blackwater mercenary force currently in place. By simply playing a carnival shell game with US Forces in the Middle East, the Pentagon and the neocon cabal who currently call the shots can still maintain forces within striking distance of Iran.

But moving the occupation to Afghanistan -- while playing up both his promise and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's demands for withdrawal -- may belie yet another campaign deception: Obama has spoken against the privatization of government functions that has led to so much additional corruption, such as the misplacement of billions of taxpayer funds directed to the "war effort" and the plague of Blackwater supervised atrocities that have been occurring with increasing frequency as their forces multiply throughout the region. Leaving Blackwater in Iraq will never be seen as a withdrawal of American forces unless Fox and CNN get behind the effort to sell it as such, which is exactly why nothing is heard from the controlled media about the numbers, control or effectiveness of mercenary forces in Iraq under Blackwater and others.

At this point, the incipient journalistic investigation following Obama's shocking turn-around on FISA is founded upon coincidental negotiations with AIPAC -- circumstantial evidence -- and subject of much speculation based upon rumor and innuendo resulting from his general "move to the middle." In fact, Lieberman seems to be providing cover by dogging his every step. Notwithstanding the "FISA Betrayal," progressives have already been subject to increasing anxiety regarding the meaning of Obama's redeployment of campaign rhetoric aimed at claiming the moderate position for the November election while everyone works together at defining McCain -- appropriately -- as a member of the radical right-wing associated with the BushCo
global corporatists, including the Wall Street barons of high finance, cronies representing the Military-Industrial Complex and Straussian war hawks. Progressive journalists are therefor comparing notes and asking questions.

As they say, "sooner or later the Truth will out" as the investigation continues into Obama's campaign funding sources, especially given the report that the Senators and Representatives who voted in favor of FISA have just recently received an overall average of $8000 more in contributions from the Israel Lobby than those who opposed it. Notedly, Senator Hillary Clinton was among those few who opposed the bill.

Therefore, we will be watching to see if the "FI$A Effect" has significantly benefited the Obama Campaign while we "let the dogs out" in this very suspicious wood.

Yesterday, in a piece entitled Betrayed by Obama, Salon's Chief-Editor Joan Walsh observed, perhaps with more caution than he deserves, that Obama's "move to the center" is one of perception rather than intentional deception; although, progressives are hard-pressed to find cause to agree:

...Meanwhile, Barack Obama is complaining that his "friends on the left" just don't understand him -- he's not moving to the center, he is "no doubt" a progressive, just one who now supports the scandalous FISA "compromise" and Antonin Scalia's views on gun rights and the death penalty, no longer plans to accept public campaign funding, and wants to make sure women aren't feigning mental distress to get a "partial-birth" abortion (the right's despicable term of choice; the correct phrase is either late-term or third-trimester abortion).

I actually have some sympathy for Obama. He was never the great progressive savior that his fans either thought he was, or peddled to their readers. While Arianna Huffington and Markos Moulitsas and Tom Hayden were hyping him as the progressive alternative to Hillary Clinton, Obama was getting away with backing a healthcare bill less progressive than Clinton's, adopting GOP talking points on the Social Security "crisis" and double-talking on NAFTA. So why shouldn't he think his "friends on the left" will put up with his abandoning other progressive causes?

I've admired Obama, but I never confused him with a genuine progressive leader. Today I don't admire him at all. His collapse on FISA is unforgivable. The only thing Obama has going for him this week is that McCain is matching him misstep for misstep. While we're railing about Obama's craven vote on FISA -- rightfully; Glenn Greenwald is a hero for his work on this topic -- McCain was outdoing Dick Cheney with neocon crazy talk, warning that Iran's test of nine old missiles we already knew they had increases the chances of a "second Holocaust." Every time I wonder whether I can ultimately vote for Obama in November, given all of his political cave-ins, McCain does something new to make sure I have to.

But Obama needs to watch himself. Telling voters they have no place else to go, before he officially has the nomination, is not a winning strategy. That's what his people told Clinton voters. That's what they're saying about opponents of the FISA sellout. That's the line on those concerned about his "partial-birth" abortion remarks. It's arrogant -- up against the backdrop of Obama's big plans for an Invesco Field acceptance speech in Denver and a Brandenberg Gate extravaganza in Berlin, I'm starting to worry about grandiosity -- and it could backfire.

The Progressive Movement is raising hell and fairly should be. The current populist and progressive UPRISING is not purposefully directed for Hillary's sake, although she seems the likely beneficiary at the moment; it is on behalf of the American Republic. Such duplicity as Obama's promises to bring about "change" -- which can be seen realistically as no better than "half-assed" -- should not be rewarded with election to the highest office in the land, nor should his betrayal of the Progressive Movement be overlooked at this, perhaps our last chance, to save American Democracy from the corporatist oligarchs that Obama now seems to be courting.

* * *

APPENDIX-A: Fox News 4-Part Video Series on Amdocs and





APPENDIX-B: Comverse-Infosys - Verint

Last updated 17.07.07

This article is a translation of the Dutch article Nederlandse tapkamers niet kosjer that will appear in c't 2003-01, which will be available in the shops on december 19 2002

Dutch tapping room not kosher

by Paul Wouters, Patrick Smits

According to anonymous sources within the Dutch intelligence community, all tapping equipment of the Dutch intelligence services and half the tapping equipment of the national police force, is insecure and is leaking information to Israel. How difficult is it to make a back-door in the Dutch Transport of Intercepted IP Traffic[1] system?

The discussion focusses on the tapping installations for telephony and internet delivered to the government in the last few years by the Israeli company Verint[2].

This company was called Comverse-Infosys[3] until half a year ago, but was quickly renamed when the FBI started several investigations against it and arrested some of its employees in the US on suspicion of espionage. (See pulled FoxNews stories, Politech, Cryptome or Google).

Complete article

Israeli Spy-Ring in the USA

.........It turns out that Israel has had a potential wiretap on every phone in America for years, along with the ability to monitor and record who any person is calling, anywhere in America; information of great value even if one does not listen to the calls themselves. Amdocs, Inc., the company which subcontracts billing and directory services for phone companies around the world, including 90 percent of American phone companies, is owned by Israeli interests. Yet another company, Comverse Infosys, is suspected of having built a “back door” into the equipment permanently installed into the phone system that allows instant eavesdropping by law enforcement agencies on any phone in America. This includes yours.....

Complete article (alternative)

Israeli Security to Protect London's Underground

( Verint Systems, a subsidiary of Israel's Comverse Technology announced that Metronet Rail has selected Verint's networked video solution to enhance security of the London Underground, according to an Israel21c report...........

Complete article


APPENDIX-C: June 23, 2008 -- The backstory to the telecommunications immunity bill -- Wayne Madsen

publication date: Jun 22, 2008
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June 23, 2008 -- The backstory to the telecommunications immunity bill

At first blush, the recent adoption by the House of Representatives of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act, which gives telecommunications companies that illegally eavesdropped on the telephone conversations, faxes, text messages, and emails of Americans retroactive immunity from lawsuits from privacy-violated and aggrieved customers, would see to have little to do with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

However, the support for the bill by AIPAC's biggest boosters, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, whose sister, Bernice Manocherian, was an executive president of AIPAC, and Jane Harman, who was slated to become chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) but whose nomination was nixed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi after a Justice Department investigation of Harman's contacts with AIPAC, poses an interesting question: Why would Israel's lobby be adamantly opposed to lawsuits against phone companies that illegally spied on Americans? WMR has obtained internal Department of Justice memos and emails that document the department's concerns for the possible penetration by Israeli intelligence of federal law enforcement T2S2 digital wire intercept facilities, including those located in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) operations centers across the United States.

Harman, who would have had oversight over FISA matters as HPSCI chair, was under investigation by Justice for trying to make a deal with the Bush administration to curtail an espionage investigation of AIPAC stemming from the receipt by two AIPAC officials -- Keith Weissman and Steven Rosen -- of highly classified intelligence documents from the CIA and the Pentagon from convicted Israeli spy Larry Franklin, in return for AIPAC support for her as HPSCI chair and other support for Bush administration initiatives. The documents were passed to a Mossad agent attached to the Israeli embassy in Washington. Harman's bid to become HPSCI chair was backed by wealthy Hollywood mogul Haim Saban, who also funds the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and is currently nesting a number of pro-Israel policy makers who will likely enter a Barack Obama administration to ensure no deviation from the United States in its unbridled support for Israel. However, these Israeli acolytes may be sorely disappointed by a President Obama. The Democratic candidate vowed to gut the retroactive immunity provisions from the amended FISA bill if he is elected president.

To ensure a lock on the no retroactive lawsuit provisions, the man who became HPSCI chair, Sylvestre Reyes, supported the measure. He was joined by other AIPAC sure bets, including Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), John Yarmuth (KY), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Jason Altmire (D-PA), and, for added measure Pelosi.

If lawsuits were permitted against telecommunications firms, the discovery process may have resulted in details being unearthed about the extent of Israel's involvement in federal wiretapping and illegal surveillance of Americans.

The Justice Department red flags were first raised after the Fox News expose of the espionage activities of Israeli "art students." A December 18, 2001 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) email cites these concerns (it is also noteworthy that the report on the suspicious pre-9/11 activities of over 120 Israeli "art students" originated with the DEA:

Subject: [DELETED]
I'm not sure what is meant by "Bottom line we should have caught it."
------Original message-------
From: Raffanello, Heidi M.
Sent:Tuesday, December 18, 2001 3:04 PM
To:Zeisset, Dale M.
Cc:Newton, Otis L; Howard, JP
Subject: Comverse
As you may have heard Security Program is briefing the Administrator[42] tomorrow morning on the Israeli students investigation to include T2S2 Comverse and JSI.
This was a result of the Fox network expose on Israeli counterintelligence activities. In our discussions about remote maintenance for JSI and Comverse, we realized that Comverse remote maintenance for field systems was not addressed in the C & A process. We will approach it in the similar fashion as we did in the JSI issue, however the foreign national factor doesn't apply. It remains unclear if Comverse personnel are security cleared and if so, who are they and what type of clearances are on record. If you have names, I can run their status in Personnel Security. If not, we will need to have Comverse and ST identify a short list of personnel that will require clearances.

Fox News Transcript of above (Appendix-A) videos follows. [Edited]

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