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Whistleblowers Expose NSA-Partner Israel’s Corrupt Use of Surveillance Information


The Israel government, with whom the US government has been sharing for years Americans’ and others’ unredacted private information and communications obtained through the US mass spying program, is being accused by tens of whistle-blowers of abusively using this sort of intelligence against Palestinians. The whistleblowers, who are former and reserve members of intelligence-focused Unit 8200 of the Israel military, provide revelations illustrating some of the dangers mass spying poses in any country.

Forty-three members of Unit 8200 have written a letter to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several Israel military leaders declaring that they “refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.” The letter focuses largely on how intelligence information is used to invade privacy, engage in political persecution, create divisions in the Palestinian population, fuel violence, and extend the Israel-Palestine conflict.

James Bamford, whose insightful writing regarding the National Security Agency spans over 30 years, reported last week in the New York Times that members of the “large and very secretive Israeli military organization” have exposed the corrupt use of surveillance information, including “that data were gathered on Palestinians’ sexual orientations, infidelities, money problems, family medical conditions and other private matters that could be used to coerce Palestinians into becoming collaborators or create divisions in their society.”

Bamford proceeds to warn that a similar use of NSA and other intelligence information against Americans may be in the works. He notes that a 2012 document from then-NSA Director Keith Alexander says the NSA has been “compiling records of visits to pornographic websites and proposes using that information to damage the reputations of people whom the agency considers ‘radicalizers’ — not necessarily terrorists, but those attempting, through the use of incendiary speech, to radicalize others.”

In his New York Times article, Bamford also describes how the US has handed over to Israel broad, unrestrained access to private information and communications vacuumed up by the US government’s mass spying program:
It should trouble the American public that some or much of the information in question — intended not for national security purposes but simply to pursue political agendas — may have come directly from the N.S.A.’s domestic dragnet. According to documents leaked by Mr. Snowden and reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, the N.S.A. has been sending intelligence to Israel since at least March 2009.

The memorandum of agreement between the N.S.A. and its Israeli counterpart covers virtually all forms of communication, including but not limited to “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” The memo also indicates that the N.S.A. does not filter out American communications before delivery to Israel; indeed, the agency “routinely sends” unminimized data.

Although the memo emphasizes that Israel should make use of the intercepts in accordance with United States law, it also notes that the agreement is legally unenforceable. “This agreement,” it reads, “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.”
Read Bamford’s complete article here.

Listen here to Bamford’s further discussion of the matter on the Scott Horton Show.
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