Jefferson Morley | September 12, 2019
Israel Accused of Planting Spy Devices Near the White House
The government of Israel, likely that of Saudi Arabia and Russia, hopes President Trump will be re-elected in 2020. But that doesn’t mean they don’t spy on him.
The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.
Private Israeli firms, seeded by the expertise of former officers in Mossad and other Israeli intelligence services, are world leaders in the development of spywar.
Based on a detailed forensic analysis, the FBI and other agencies working on the case felt confident that Israeli agents had placed the devices, according to the former officials, several of whom served in top intelligence and national security posts.
That analysis, one of the former officials said, is typically led by the FBI’s counterintelligence division and involves examining the devices so that they “tell you a little about their history, where the parts and pieces come from, how old are they, who had access to them, and that will help get you to what the origins are.” For these types of investigations, the bureau often leans on the National Security Agency and sometimes the Central Intelligence Agency (DHS and the Secret Service played a supporting role in this specific investigation).
“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” said a former senior intelligence official.
The story quotes one unnamed intelligence officials as saying that, when notified of the phone surveillance, the Trump White House “took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government.”