The title of the latest Guardian report by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill and sourced by Edward Snowden, would rightfully seem to say everything in the headline. That’s what I thought when I saw it, but that headline severely downplays how damning this latest article truly is.
Let’s get to some block quoting, as the title says, this is centering around a non-legally binding sharing agreement entered into between the U.S. and Israel. Here’s what is (essentially) shared:
According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU the Israeli Sigint National Unit minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.
What’s important about that is the wording “minimized”. That’s what the NSA refers to as stripping information about non-targets and U.S. citizens. So effectively the U.S. is handing over raw data, without going through it first, to another country.
Ok, Ben, but that’s what the headline says and I am bored with this NSA crap. I’m bored with it too, but, it’s still important (like reading loan documentation).
It’s important because when you go through it you find out about stuff like the fact that the NSA may also be spying on the U.S. Government and elected officials,1 but just asks that if Israel gets any info relating to U.S. Government officials that they, you know, delete it and pretend they never saw it.
Welcome to the Circle of Trust
Which is noble, but then you read (in the same article), this:
In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that Israel aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE National Intelligence Estimate ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”
So Israel is one of the top countries that spies on the U.S., and early in the article we learned that Israel is a top-three country for the U.S. to spy on, but hey — why not just share the raw data the NSA is snatched up with them?
I’m not done…
In its statement, the NSA 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.
I think they forgot to add: by willfully infringing on the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, while also turning over intelligence on innocent people to a foreign government. But hey, terrorism.
Cited in same article. ↩