Sunday, March 29, 2009

Israeli in NSA Spying Program Comfortably on the Run in Africa

Israeli in NSA Spying Program Comfortably on the Run in Africa

A light-hearted piece in Sunday's New York Times, "Tips for the Sophisticated Fugitive," reminded me that Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, an Israeli businessman at the center of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, is still on the lam....

Many people would be shocked to learn that the two biggest contractors in the ultra-sophisticated
NSA eavesdropping program are owned and run by Israelis, many of whom came from their country's own electronic spying services....

In effect, writes
James Bamford in his latest book on the NSA, "Virtually the entire American telecommunications system is bugged by [Israeli-formed] companies with possible ties to Israel's eavesdropping agency."

And the head of one of them is a crook, according to federal indictments.

And making the best of it, too, according to
The Times piece by Michael Powell, who labeled the Israeli-American Alexander an "exemplar of the plutocrat on the run."

Alexander was CEO of Comverse, founded in 1984 by former Israeli intelligence officers, whose subsidiary Verint was contracted by Verizon for the NSA program, according to Bamford's "
The Shadow Factory."

Alexander fled to Namibia shortly after a federal grand jury indicted him in 2006 on charges of wire and security fraud, namely, backdating options. The southwest African country does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

In 2007 Interpol agents served the luxury-loving fugitive with a U.S. arrest warrant, but he's successfully fought off every attempt at extradition, no doubt helped by the millions he's showered on Namibian officials and charities.

Lest one jump to yet another conspiracy theory about Israeli intelligence, it needs to be noted that, according to former Pentagon, FBI and CIA officials I've talked to, U.S. companies can't compete for the NSA data-mining contracts because their technologies aren't as good as the Israelis'.

An attempt to reach Gen. Michael Hayden, the ex-CIA director who headed NSA when the contracts were awarded, was fruitless.

Meanwhile, Alexander is having as much of a ball as a fugitive could, in his "spectacular home in Windhoek," Powell reported....

More details yet to emerge in assault of CIA employee and his wife

In the early hours of March 22-09, William Bennett and his wife, Cynthia were discovered after both had been beaten near their Potomac Station, Virginia home in Washington DC's suburban Loudoun County. Bennett was dead and his wife was badly beaten and remains in critical condition. The couple had been on an early morning walk when the attack occurred, about a half mile from their home.

The Bennetts, according to published reports, were very reclusive. William Bennett was a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel who had been stationed in Vicenza, Italy; Fort Lewis, Washington; and Washington, DC during his military career. The CIA has confirmed that retired Lieutenant Colonel Bennett was a CIA contract employee until 2000. However, we have learned from a source close to the Loudoun County Sheriff's office that Bennett continued to be employed by the CIA when he was murdered. The nature of Bennett's work for the agency is not yet known but we were told that law enforcement authorities are convinced that his murder and near-fatal beating of his wife were not random acts of violence but a targeted and planned attack.

Cynthia Bennett was reported to be an employee at the U.S. Capitol. WMR's research expert has uncovered a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from October 26, 2005, that identifies a Cynthia Bennett as Director of Procurement for the Architect of the U.S. Capitol. Cynthia Bennett is a former U.S. Army Captain.

There is a great deal of interest by law enforcement authorities in the presence of white vans in the Bennetts' neighborhood prior to and in the time frame during the attack. Residents of the neighborhood where Bennett and his wife were found reported to authorities the presence of a white van and a "commotion" around 5:30 am on Sunday morning.

Authorities have not ruled out that the Bennetts were assaulted and possibly were abducted at another location and their bodies dumped off on Riverside Parkway later. Such a scenario would open the possibility that the couple was brutally interrogated by their captors for some sort of information.

At a community meeting held at the Landsdowne National Conference Center near the crime scene on March 26, the Loudoun County Sheriff's department has all but ruled out Latino gang violence in the attack on the Bennetts. The police said there is no license plate information on the white van seen in the area prior to the Bennetts being discovered. However, police investigated a suspicious white van with a Florida tag that was spotted in the area the previous Saturday evening. Sheriff deputies stopped and searched the Florida-tagged white van the same evening for reasons seemingly unconnected to the discovery of the Bennetts when they were assaulted the next morning. The van occupants were reportedly college students who were selling magazines door-to-door. The latest police reports have stated that the Bennetts may have been assaulted by up to four individuals.

An article in the Anchorage Daily News on August 6, 2007, reported the presence in Anchorage neighborhoods of a suspicious "white van" with "young adults" claiming to be "local college students" who were selling magazines "door-to-door." The author of the article described herself as a "former federal worker." In 2006, two teenage girls posing as Fort Collins, Colorado high school students, were charged with fraudulently selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Another gang of magazine salespeople were rounded up in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2007 and in suburban Philadelphia in 2003. Many of the companies that hire the young salespeople use fronts with no actual physical addresses or phone numbers. The people who run the front companies reportedly teach the young people aggressive sales tactics. In many cases, the young sales people have been left abandoned and broke far from their homes by their employers.

The white van with a Florida tag spotted in the upscale Landsdowne/Potomac Station neighborhood is reminiscent of similar reports of white vans with Florida tags that were spotted around the homes of federal workers, including judges, law enforcement officers, and military personnel in the months prior to 9/11. The individual federal field activity reports, which were combined in an overall Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report, identified the drivers and occupants of the white vans as Israeli art students, although it was later revealed that many had close links with Israeli intelligence. The teams were usually composed of between four and five individuals, with a team leader and usually with one female in the group. The art students' aggressive behavior and that of Israeli kiosk vendors in malls across the United States matches that of the reported college-age "magazine vendors" in Anchorage and elsewhere in the United States.

The residences in the Potomac Station and Landsdowne neighborhoods of Loudoun County are not conducive to door-to-door sales. Many of the communities are gated and most homes have security systems installed. We have learned from a source close to the Loudoun County Sheriff that there is much more information held by law enforcement on the details of the brutal assault on the Bennetts that is not being released as the investigation continues.