NSA and Israel

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Friends are for sharing with, aren’t they? That’s the way it has always been. I’ll scratch your back and you can scratch mine is the motto of the National Security Agency according to the latest revelations made about the data stored by the immense surveillance program of the NSA, which routinely provides intelligence data with Israel.

There is a memorandum of understanding between the US and Israel that lays down the circumstances in which the NSA will share (and have already being doing so) intelligence information with Israel. Not only has the NSA being spying on the world, but it has been passing that data on to its counterparts in Israel. Intercepted communications (with names, telephone numbers and content information) has been handed over already to the equivalent of the NSA in Israel. There is apparently, according to the revelations, no limit as to the data that can be shared by the NSA.

This is in marked contradiction to the Obama administration’s declaration that the data was secret and would never have been revealed to a third party outside of the USA. Today, it turns out that this is completely untrue. The deal was struck in March 2009 and has been going on extensively since that date. Caught red-handed, it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration gets itself out of this predicament and tries to back-track on its previous statements.

Israel is allowed to receive what is termed ‘raw Sigint’, or signal intelligence, including unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, facsimiles, telex communications as well as voice messages and Digital Network Intelligence. The date that is shared is not vetted before it is sent to the counterparts in Israel. There is an understanding that American citizens would not be used as targets by the Israeli administration. However, there is no legally-binding obligation that was included in the agreement to stop Israel from actually doing so.

It beggars belief that the NSA and the Obama administration should imagine for one moment that they would be able to occult the transfer of such data. Israel has also been allowed to release the data that has been passed on to them by the NSA to any third party that the wish to. So, not only have we been spied upon, but the NSA has revealed that data to Israel and that data can be used by anyone that Israel thinks fit. Neat!

At the same time a report that was written in 2008 admits that Israel regularly spies on the USA to determine the role that it will be playing in the Middle East. So, the USA has given data to not only an ally, but also to those that spy on them. Those two are one and the same: Israel.

According to the UK newspaper The Guardian that has published the entire memorandum, the NSA declined to make any comment today on the matter and simply issued a statement which said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations”.

It’s bad enough that people are being monitored; it’s bad enough that we have no at all. But it’s even worse that the data is shared with others somewhere else in the world for their own benefit and far worse still that the powers-that-be have lied through their shiny white teeth to the people of the US and to the rest of the world.

What can happen now? Can it get any worse? 

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