Fox News has once again leveled baseless charges against Israel in the second report of its four-part series on alleged Israeli spying against America. This time reporter Carl Cameron focused on the company Amdocs, which he wrongly described as an “Israeli-based private telecommunications company.” In fact, Amdocs is not private, or as Cameron tried to imply, mysterious – it is a publicly held company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol DOX. Unfortunately, the rest of Cameron’s report was just as ill-informed as his opening description of Amdocs.
According to Cameron, Amdocs handles “most directory assistance calls and virtually all call records and billing in the United States,” and the supposed fear of once more unnamed “investigators” is that, as Brit Hume put it, “certain suspects in the September 11th attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone.”
While Fox does not allege that Amdocs provided such information to anyone, the network does claim, based on nothing but innuendo and more unnamed sources, that the information collected by the company may have somehow “fallen into the wrong hands and impeded the investigation.”
Cameron presents absolutely no evidence to substantiate this charge. But to make his allegations seem plausible, Cameron tells viewers that “In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing.”
In fact, Cameron reported these earlier investigations into Amdocs during a May 5th, 2000 broadcast on Fox, describing an “alleged penetration of U.S. government phone systems.” Only towards the end of his overheated report did Cameron admit that “there are no targeted suspects under investigation because there is no information to suggest a phone breach.” But then, apparently realizing he had just shot down his own report, the reporter immediately contradicted himself, claiming, “There is clearly a breach here, some sort of threat.”
In fact, the investigations Cameron reported turned up absolutely no evidence whatsoever of spying or any other improper activities. Indeed, the New York Times headlined its story on the probe “Israeli Spy Inquiry Finds Nothing, Officials Say.” According to the Times report, datelined May 5th:
The federal authorities conducted a highly classified espionage investigation into whether Israeli intelligence agents used a software company in Missouri to intercept telephone conversations from the White House, State Department and other agencies, government officials said today.
The counterintelligence inquiry did not find evidence that government telephone systems were penetrated, the officials said. The investigation focused on the Amdocs Corporation, a publicly traded corporation founded by Israelis, but failed to unearth evidence that anyone at the company or connected to it had tried to listen to government communications illegally, the officials said.
“There just weren’t any facts to support a penetration,” said a government official who closely followed the inquiry.
The existence of the inquiry emerged today after Insight Magazine, which is published by The Washington Times, reported that the investigation had uncovered a security breach in the White House telephone system. Other news organizations quickly spread the story over their Web sites, but the accusation of a major espionage problem collapsed almost immediately. ...
Since Cameron obviously knew that the earlier investigations of Amdocs had found nothing, and that the accusations had “collapsed almost immediately,” why did he repeat the empty allegations in his report on December 12th? It seems that for Cameron any anti-Israel charge is true no matter how many times it is disproved, discredited or disavowed.
Cameron’s technique is by now transparent: Dig up an old bogus charge against Israel, dig up some unnamed “source” somewhere who is willing, for whatever reason, to support it, and then go on the air claiming that “Fox News has learned ... (fill in the blank with baseless anti-Israel allegations).
The pity is that Fox News would risk its reputation by allowing such dubious reporting.