NSA Made Secret Deal to Provide Israel with Raw Intelligence, Including Data on Americans

Friday, September 13, 2013
(AP Photo)

The National Security Agency (NSA) since the beginning of the Obama administration has routinely shared raw intelligence information with Israel that may include personal communications from Americans, according to a classified document provided to The Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


In a 2009 memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, Unit 8200 (the Israeli Sigint National Unit), the U.S. provides intercepted communications that likely contain phone calls and emails of American citizens.


The Guardian also reported that the agreement includes no legally binding limits on how the Israelis use the data.


“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 states.


The five-page memorandum does mention the importance of Americans’ constitutional rights to privacy and the need for Israel to respect these rights. But nothing in the agreement legally requires the Israelis to do so.


Instead, the U.S. ally can pretty much do whatever it likes with the “raw Sigint” (signal intelligence) it gets from the NSA. The raw Sigint includes “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,” and possibly more.


Also, the NSA does not filter out any of the data before forwarding it, which means Americans’ emails and phone calls could be sent to Israel.


The Obama administration has claimed it uses safeguards to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens while collecting intelligence. But this would not seem to be the case when it comes to sharing data with Israel, based on what the NSA document says.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

NSA Shares Raw Intelligence Including Americans' Data with Israel (by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian)

NSA and Israeli Intelligence: Memorandum of Understanding – Full Document (The Guardian)

German Spy Agency Supplies NSA with Daily Trove of Surveillance Data (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Does NSA Avoid U.S. Legal Restrictions by Hiring British Intelligence to Gather Information on Americans? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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