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NSA and Israel: Spying on Americans and Each Other

By       Message Larry Toenjes     Permalink
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Perhaps the best known case of Israeli spying in the US is that of   Jonathan Pollard . A civilian analyst in naval intelligence, Pollard had access to thousands of secret documents that he passed to Israel. Until 1998, Israel denied that it had any direct contact with Pollard, but in May of that year Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Pollard was an intelligence source who was being handled by the Israeli Bureau for Scientific Relations. Since then, the Israeli government has   lobbied extensively for Pollard to be released from prison in North Carolina, where he is currently serving a life sentence with an expected release date of 2015.

Far more than Pollard, though, Israeli spying spans a number of decades and into the heart of the most sensitive data and material in the American government.

In the late 1960s Zalman Shapiro, a prominent member of the Zionist Organization of America, was   placed under investigation   for passing highly-enriched uranium to Israel. Shapiro founded the nuclear fuel plant at Apollo, Pennsylvania, and enough uranium was   believed   to have been smuggled from the plant to create Israel's first dozen nuclear bombs. The CIA Tel Aviv station chief   has said   that the plant was "an Israeli operation from the beginning" but all FOIA requests for the extensive CIA files on the operation are being rejected, presumably because it would mean the US would have to give up its long-held policy of " nuclear ambiguity " and admit the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons.

In 1985 Richard Kelly Smyth, a physicist and businessman who had contracted with NATO and NASA   was arrested   for illegally passing 15 shipments of nuclear triggering devices to the Israeli government via an Israeli trading company. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison but was   immediately eligible for parole   because he was 72 years old at the time of his sentencing.

In 1993 a massive   ADL-led spying operation   was busted targeting numerous institutions and individuals, including the NAACP and even the San Francisco police. The data was being passed to Israel, and in some cases South Africa. The city dropped criminal prosecution of the case after lobbying from local Jewish organizations, but the ADL was forced to   settle a civil lawsuit   out of court for an undisclosed sum.

In 1996 it was revealed that the Office of Naval Intelligence had   confirmed   that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." According to the report, this technology transfer "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation."

Another history and summary of Israeli spying on the US appeared in Counterpunch March 12, 2009.   Written by Christopher Ketcham "Israeli Spying in the United States"   the article concludes with the following:

"Whether it's a Democratic or Republican administration, you don't bad-mouth Israel if you want to get ahead," says former CIA counter terrorism officer Philip Giraldi.  "Most of the people in the agency were very concerned about Israeli espionage and Israeli actions against U.S. interests. Everybody was aware of it.  Everybody hated it.  But they wouldn't get promoted if they spoke out.  Israel has a privileged position and that's the way things are.  It's crazy.  And everybody knows it's crazy." [see]

There is no doubt that there is a long history of Israeli spying against the US.   There is also no doubt that the immersion of Israel-related firms and technology into the center of the NSA's surveillance systems provides an opportunity for an even greater level of Israeli spying upon the US, its citizens and industries.   The implications of this capability go beyond the purely military, commercial, and industrial domains.

Congress, Verizon and potential blackmail

The inclusion of Verizon as part of the NSA data gathering operation immediately got the attention of Congress. Congressmen and their staff use Blackberry telephones, which rely upon the Verizon system.   In a Senate appropriations committee hearing on June 6, 2013 Attorney General Holder was asked by Senator Kirk if he could assure senators that their telephone conversations were not being monitored? Here is the exchange as reported by Joe Schoffstall on

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) asked Holder:

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Laurence A.Toenjes is retired from the University of Houston ?s Department of Sociology where he was a researcher with The Sociology of Education Research Group. Toenjes received his doctorate in economics from Southern Illinois University.

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