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NSA Shares Raw Intelligence Including Americans’ Data with Israel


(by Anthony Freda, via wendydavis at

Not shocking, but again, now there’s evidence.  What Israel shares with the NSA isn’t covered in this document./s

Via Glenn Greenwald, Laura Potras, and Ewen MacAskill at the Guardian:

The documents provided by Edward Snowden indicate that American’s raw data (“raw Sigint” – signal intelligence, iow) aren’t sifted out first, so it’s likely that emails and phone calls are included, belying Obama’s assurances that our privacy has been safeguarded if we are ‘caught up in the dragnet’.  (ha, ha)  This Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA and the ISNU includes in its title ‘”pertaining to the protection of US persons”, but whoa, Nellie.  Such a joke it is (my bolds throughout).  It provides that the Five Eyes intelligence services to follow their soverien privacy laws, as well.  ‘Persons’ are defined in the document, and include planes and vessels under US flags, and US businesses.

‘But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

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.

Although the memorandum is explicit in saying the material had to be handled in accordance with US law, and that the Israelis agreed not to deliberately target Americans identified in the data, these rules are not backed up by legal obligations.

This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

Don’t say Orwellian double-speak, please.  Or if ya want to make a toking game out of it, be my guest…

But wait: since the memorandum puts no legally binding limits on how the Israeli’s use the data, but see: it’s an Honor thing.  They promise to let the NSA know when they find the (actually) pre-minimized data relates to (non-terror-targeted) American citizens, even though they’re allowed to hold it for up to a year before destroying it.  And *if* they share it, they must make sure to keep the identities behind the communications secret.  Nice arrangement, eh?  I trust them.

But wait, there’s even more:

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government“. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

The NSA promised to periodically review that every thing the Israelis did was within (no, I won’t say kosher) acceptable parameters.

But hold the phone:  in the document, Under Section IV: Responsibilities; (b U): SNU Shall:

“Process for purposes unrelated to intelligence against the US any communications contained in raw SIGINT provided by the NSA that include reference to activities, policies and views of US officials.”  (h/t kgb999)  Somehow the authors seem to have missed this gem.

Ideas?  Guesses as to the ‘other purposes’?  Extortion, lol?

The authors remind us that Israel isn’t one of the NSA’s Five Eyes partners, and that given the nature of the two nations’ surveillance arms in regards to suspicions, they’ve pasted in three documents of interest.  One is a document from 2007 that acknowledges that notes that since 2002, that the relationship, while central to US strategy, has become overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Israel.

Another concerns a 2008 document in which a senior NSA official says 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. A National Intelligence Estimate ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”  And later,  “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

Hmmm.  Plausible deniability.  Accidents Happen. You go to Stasi Snooping with the spies that ya have, not the spies that ya wish for…

When queried by the authors, the NSA spokesperson stuck to its boilerplate responses, no answers to specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

And in the ‘just for fun’ category, ‘How The NSA Revelations Are Hurting Businesses’.

And this, echoing kgb999 on the other thread:

And in the ‘beats me’ category, the sound of it just seems fitting, somehow, although I almost went with ‘Whip It’.  😉 :

(cross-posted  at


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