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NSA and Israel: Spying on Americans and Each Other

By       Message Larry Toenjes     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 9/14/13

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Israeli connections to the NSA are part of the story of NSA surveillance on US citizens and foreigners. These connections reveal some of the ways in which the Israeli tail wags the U.S. dog when it comes to U.S. Middle East policy.


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As this paper was being completed the Guardian carried Glen Greenwald's article

  (Sept. 11, 2013) with the following title and opening sentences:

"NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel

" Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
" Only official US government communications protected
" Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals."

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Once again revelations by Edward Snowden confirm what has long been suspected, even documented, but rarely if ever officially acknowledged.   Although the US apparently voluntarily provides Israel with intelligence data on US citizens, Israel seems to routinely, on its own, gather much intelligence about the US and US citizens that is not handed over by the US under the special memorandum of understanding between the two countries. As Greenwald stated in the September 11, 2013 article,

"While NSA documents tout the mutually beneficial relationship of Sigint sharing, another report, marked top secret and dated September 2007, states that the relationship, while central to US strategy, has become overwhelmingly one-sided in favor of Israel."


  Relationship between the USA and Israel

The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is most often described in ebullient terms such as:

Both nations share Judeo-Christian values. They are committed to human rights and the principles of freedom, equality, and pluralism. And both nations were built by waves of refugees or persecuted immigrants who sought religious, political, or economic freedom. [see]

The United States and Israel share the same values and a common commitment to democracy and freedom. Israel is America's most reliable friend and only democratic ally in the Middle East, one of the world's most volatile and important regions.[see]

Beyond such rhetoric, Israel and the US are indeed closely connected in many ways. Nearly as many Jews live in the US (5.4 million) as in Israel (5.9 million). The militaries of the two countries specifically are closely linked, with the U.S. providing Israel some $3 billion in military aid each year, most of which is spent on US manufactured weapons.   The two nations have a free trade agreement. [see] Congress routinely passes resolutions and laws in support of Israel with near unanimity, and the U.S. has protected Israel against unfriendly resolutions by the United Nations Security Council with its veto 42 times. [see]

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In seeming contradiction to this unwavering friendship between Israel and the US on August 29, 2013 the Washington Post carried the following, based on an excerpt from the NSA budget as leaked by Edward Snowden:

U.S. intelligence officials take an active interest in friends as well as foes. Pakistan is described in detail as an "intractable target," and counterintelligence operations " are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel ."   The latter is a U.S. ally but has a history of espionage attempts against the United States. [emphasis added]   [see]

NSA Counterintelligence on Israel
(Image by L. Toenjes)
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NSA Counterintelligence on Israel by L. Toenjes


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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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