Monday, December 17, 2001
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This partial transcript of
Special Report with Brit Hume, Dec. 14, was
provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click
here to order the
Part 4 of 4
TONY SNOW, HOST:
This week, senior correspondent Carl Cameron has reported on a
longstanding government espionage investigation. Federal
officials this year have arrested or detained nearly 200
Israeli citizens suspected of belonging to an "organized
intelligence-gathering operation." The Bush
administration has deported most of those arrested after Sept.
11, although some are in custody under the new anti-terrorism
Cameron also investigates the possibility
that an Israeli firm generated billing data that could be used
for intelligence purpose, and describes concerns that the
federal government's own wiretapping system may be
vulnerable. Tonight, in part four of the series, we'll
learn about the probable roots of the probe: a drug case that
went bad four years ago in L.A.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS
CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Angeles, 1997,
a major local, state and federal drug investigating
sours. The suspects: Israeli organized crime with
operations in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Canada, Israel and
Egypt. The allegations: cocaine and ecstasy trafficking,
and sophisticated white-collar credit card and computer
The problem: according to classified law
enforcement documents obtained by Fox News, the bad guys had
the cops beepers, cell phones, even home phones under
surveillance. Some who did get caught admitted to having
hundreds of numbers and using them to avoid arrest.
"This compromised law enforcement
communications between LAPD detectives and other assigned law
enforcement officers working various aspects of the
case. The organization discovered communications between
organized crime intelligence division detectives, the FBI and
the Secret Service."
Shock spread from the DEA to the FBI in
Washington, and then the CIA. An investigation of
the problem, according to law enforcement documents,
concluded, "The organization has apparent extensive access to
database systems to identify pertinent personal and
When investigators tried to find out where
the information might have come from, they looked at Amdocs, a
publicly traded firm based in Israel. Amdocs
generates billing data for virtually every call in America,
and they do credit checks. The company denies any leaks,
but investigators still fear that the firm's data is getting
into the wrong hands.
When investigators checked their own
wiretapping system for leaks, they grew concerned about
potential vulnerabilities in the computers that intercept,
record and store the wiretapped calls. A main contractor
is Comverse Infosys, which works closely with the Israeli
government, and under a special grant program, is reimbursed
for up to 50 percent of its research and development costs by
Israel's Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Asked this week about another sprawling
investigation and the detention of 60 Israeli since Sept. 11,
the Bush administration treated the questions like hot
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS
SECRETARY: I would just refer you to the Department of
Justice with that. I'm not familiar with the report.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm
aware that some Israeli citizens have been detained.
With respect to why they're being detained and the other
aspects of your question whether it's because they're in
intelligence services, or what they were doing I will defer
to the Department of Justice and the FBI to answer that.
CAMERON: Beyond the 60 apprehended or
detained, and many deported since Sept. 11, another group of
140 Israeli individuals have been arrested and detained in
this year in what government documents describe as "an
organized intelligence gathering operation," designed to
"penetrate government facilities." Most of those
individuals said they had served in the Israeli military,
which is compulsory there.
But they also had, most of them,
intelligence expertise, and either worked for Amdocs or other
companies in Israel that specialize in wiretapping.
Earlier this week, the Israeli embassy in Washington denied
any spying against or in the United States Tony.
SNOW: Carl, we've heard the comments
from Ari Fleischer and Colin Powell. What are officials
saying behind the scenes?
CAMERON: Well, there's real
pandemonium described at the FBI, the DEA and the
INS. A lot of these problems have been well known to
some investigators, many of who have contributed to the
reporting on this story. And what they say is
happening is supervisors and management are now going
back and collecting much of the information, because
there's tremendous pressure from the top levels of all
of those agencies to find out exactly what's going
At the DEA and the FBI already a variety of
administration reviews are under way, in addition to the
investigation of the phenomenon. They want to find
out how it is all this has come out, as well as be very
careful because of the explosive nature and very
political ramifications of the story itself Tony.
SNOW: All right, Carl, thanks.
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