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Obama’s Almost First Act in Office: Spy on Americans for Israel!

The Guardian (relying on Edward Snowden’s revelations) reports [1] that the NSA agreed in March 2009 to routinely share its eavesdropping information on American citizens with Israeli intelligence.

I know people who are unsurprised by this—knowledgeable as they are about the degree of subservience of the United States towards Israel. I am surprised. Actually I’m shocked.   When Snowden’s revelations came out, I wasn’t as blown away as many of my libertarian-leaning colleagues were. I’ve long sort of assumed the US government spied on its citizens, heard some pretty clear hints on that score in the 1990s from a former aide to a highly trusted European ally. And I must admit, I wasn’t that alarmed. I wasn’t one of those who said, “So what, I’ve  got nothing to hide.” But in a pretty long life, I’ve known enough American officials, in the CIA or FBI or State Department or whatever, to not especially fear them. I’d say the same thing about New York cops, troubling as I find many aspects the NYPD’s program of spying on New York City’s Muslims. When push comes to shove, almost all such  officials at the higher levels understand the Constitution, understand that political dissent is tolerated in America, even welcomed, etc. Granted, perhaps if I wasn’t a fairly conservative, law-abiding, white male I wouldn’t feel this way. But when America goes wrong it still seems to me an aberration, not the norm.

Giving up personal eavesdropped information of American citizens to Israel is an entirely different matter. Israeli for no good reason has created for itself a “legitimacy crisis.” Not content to live by international law and on the territory most everyone agrees is rightfully theirs, Israelis have managed to persuade themselves that everyone who opposes their subjugation of the Palestinians is an “enemy” seeking to “destroy” Israel. And understandably it sees such enemies in the most dire and exaggerated terms, terms colored by the tragic history of European Jewry. And so no, I have no confidence that Israel would treat my personal or financial information with the same prudence that an American spy agency would. And I ask why the hell is the American government giving it to them.

I suppose this explains at least in part why Obama so lost his cool about Edward Snowden, a whistleblower many of Obama’s supporters thought he might have welcomed and embraced. The ugly truth we now know is that two months after assuming office, Obama or an underling acting in Obama’s name signed an agreement to transfer Americans’ personal and private information to Israel. I am shocked and appalled, disgusted beyond measure.

I’ve known for a long time about elite Beltway deference to Israel. For decades, top American officials have acted almost as if they can’t think for themselves, they see everything in the Mideast through the optic of whether it is “good for Israel.” But this is different than that, and worse. The Americans in Israel’s camp at least think that “what’s good for Israel is good for America”—or at least so they proclaim, publicly. But no one can imagine that feeding Israel eavesdropped information on Americans is good for those Americans—that’s why this ugly program has been kept secret.  We have Edward Snowden to thank, otherwise we might never have known how far the rot has gone.

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#1 Comment By Darth Thulhu On September 12, 2013 @ 2:32 am

Drip, drip, drip … and there’s plenty more where that came from. It is interesting to see where each person’s specific line of outrage is, but the steady drip, drip, drip makes it clear that most people will be offended by the time the revelations are done.

#2 Comment By Clint On September 12, 2013 @ 5:43 am

Two Israeli companies conduct bugging and wiretapping for the NSA.
Verint, which took over its parent company Comverse Technology earlier this year, is responsible for tapping the communication lines of the American telephone giant Verizon.
Natus, which was acquired in 2010 by Boeing, supplied the software and hardware used at AT&T wiretapping rooms.

#3 Comment By Adam On September 12, 2013 @ 7:48 am

Hi, Scott.

As a foreigner mostly unrelated to the Israeli-American relationship, I wonder how many people may have been blocked from important positions in your country because the Israeli government just suspect they would not be submissive enough to Israel. Of course, one does not need to be called an Israel critic to be blocked; one’s criticism can be only the flag that says “Find something unsympathetic about this person and use it as the motivation.”

I’m uncomfortable with this idea because of its conspirationist tone but it is not a fully unreasonable theory to explain such a string bias for Israel in Washington, even against American interest sometimes. It would be specially alarming because those visible cases of backslashing of Israel critics, as in the Charles Freeman nomination to the NIC, are only the cases where the previous, subtler filters failed.

Now, these revelations just make it more plausible to me. Surely the Israelis have more information than we knew and can act earlier on aborting the ascendancy of opponents, or even critical allies.

What do you think? Does it make sense?

#4 Comment By Claude Roessiger On September 12, 2013 @ 8:21 am

Not only is this a very great scandal, but there is another as great today: why is this story not appearing in the U.S. press, including The Guardian’s U.S. partners, the Washington Post and the New York Times? Did AIPAC get the story spiked? Moreover, the same revelations identified Israel as one of the three most aggressive foreign powers spying on the United States. This is a friend? This great scandal needs the light of day. It explains a great deal, and the sooner Americans understand what it means, the sooner the nightmare of the last dozen years can begin to end. We were betrayed by our own government, and have long been betrayed by our own congress, shamelessly and abjectly in Israel’s pocket.

#5 Comment By Liam On September 12, 2013 @ 8:21 am

Well, remember that US Presidents of late effectively report to the head of the NSA, not the other way around….

#6 Comment By Fran Macadam On September 12, 2013 @ 8:28 am

“And so no, I have no confidence that Israel would treat my personal or financial information with the same prudence that an American spy agency would.”

This reveals our trust in our own agencies’ handling of the content of mass spying on the public was entirely misplaced, for this in itself is a gross betrayal.

Reagan famously warned, “Trust, but verify.” Whatever oversight there is, secretly betrays us while lying about it and democratic accountability is completely broken because verification was made impossible, so that routine abuse could expand.

These things are made secret, so that the rule of law and the American people’s will can be ignored – as the secret agreements make specific.

#7 Comment By SDS On September 12, 2013 @ 8:52 am

I expect we will learn about MUCH MORE of such rot; as yet unexposed….Thanks to MR. Snowden…
Stay tuned….

#8 Comment By Philip Giraldi On September 12, 2013 @ 9:06 am

I have been following the issue of Israeli spying on the US at TAC and elsewhere for some time, but, like Scott, I am truly shocked by this as it goes way beyond what should be legally and constitutionally acceptable in any democracy or republic. I suppose Obama’s inexperience can be blamed to some extent for this type of decision, but it is astonishing that someone who claims to be a constitutional lawyer should not only systematize spying on Americans but should share the results with a rogue foreign government that had repeatedly demonstrated its lack of concern for the liberties of foreigners. Don’t know if this story made today’s NYT but the Wash Post appears to have ignored it. Death lists, killing American citizens by drone, NSA spying, attacking countries without a declaration of war and now this. When will it all end?

#9 Comment By vato_loco_frisco On September 12, 2013 @ 9:38 am

Spying for Israel? Why isn’t that surprising? I seem to recall that candidate Obama, after cinching the Democratic nomination, immediately paid a visit to AIPAC…

#10 Comment By johndorchester On September 12, 2013 @ 9:41 am

Not surprisingly the New York Times have not carried the story, at least not on its front pages. I suppose they don’t consider as important a story as the unseating of a few democrats in Colorado!!!

#11 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 12, 2013 @ 10:36 am

These revelations explain further how a small foreign country sets U.S. Middle East policy and how the States-side lobby for that same small Middle East country runs the U.S. Congress (that’s right: “runs the U.S. Congress”!) when it comes to setting U.S. Middle East policy.

And yet, the implications of this revelation (yes, “it has gone THIS FAR!”) leaves me as astonished as Philip Giraldi, who writes:

“I have been following the issue of Israeli spying on the US at TAC and elsewhere for some time, but, like Scott, I am truly shocked by this as it goes way beyond what should be legally and constitutionally acceptable in any democracy or republic.”

How do the Israelis and their States-side lobby continue to get away with this?

When will the U.S. reclaim its foreign policy?

This is shameful beyond words!

#12 Comment By WorkingClass On September 12, 2013 @ 11:18 am

It’s ok to spy on Americans even though the constitution forbids it. But sharing this “intelligence” with Israel is outrageous. Well I agree with the second part anyway.

I would suggest that your trust has been misplaced Scott. Welcome to reality. Thank you Mr. Snowden.

#13 Comment By Justin St. Giles Payne On September 12, 2013 @ 11:23 am

I have been following the issue of Israeli spying on the US at TAC and elsewhere for some time, but, like Scott, I am truly shocked by this as it goes way beyond what should be legally and constitutionally acceptable in any democracy or republic.

It’s not “illegal” for Israel to spy on Americans, just like it’s not illegal for the NSA to spy on foreigners. Indeed, that’s the “scandal” here, if there is one: countries have infinite legal latitude to spy on each other’s citizens, especially if they don’t have to leave their borders to do it.

#14 Comment By spite On September 12, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

Justin St. Giles Payne
Er, you seem to have missed the part where the USA willingly hands over data about its own citizens to another country.

#15 Comment By more tea party On September 12, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

What the hell is our government doing giving Israel or any other foreign government access to the private communications of American citizens? It was just reported that the FBI regards Israel as on a par with China as an espionage threat to our national security … how in God’s name could the same government give Israel this kind of access?

The situation is clearly out of control. There is no “debate” about an outrage like this – it should be halted immediately, and whoever was involved should be fired and prosecuted, including the relevant legislators who failed in their responsibility to stop it from happening in the first place.

#16 Comment By Michael N Moore On September 12, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Israel is the pet of the National Security State. It can do whatever it wants.

There are so few voices like Scot McConnell, Norman Finkelstein, and Noam Chomsky who are actually willing to look at the facts about Israel and Palestine. All the rest seems to be mindless cheerleading for a militarist state that is being steered over a cliff.

#17 Comment By Clint On September 12, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

“In 1961, Congressman Richard Poff succeeded after several attempts in removing language that restricted the Espionage Act’s application to territory “within the jurisdiction of the United States, on the high seas, and within the United States” 18 U.S.C. § 791. He said the need for the Act apply everywhere was prompted by the Scarbeck case, a State Department official charged with yielding to blackmail threats in Poland.”

#18 Comment By Labropotes On September 12, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

When you think you’ve lost everything you find out you can always lose a little more. -B Dylan

I am depressed by this story, in a my-dog-died sort of way.

Keep pealing off the masks, Mr Snowden. There will be a parade for you on Broadway one day.

#19 Comment By Sands On September 12, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

There has been a lot of irresponsible reporting on these leaks that get things just plain wrong. Unfortunately, this post by Scott McConnell perpetuates the problem.

This Guardian article (like all of them have been) is alarmist and misleading. The document in question, if any other journalists bothered to actually read it, is a memorandum of understanding with the sole of aim of specifying how the US WILL AVOID giving Israel information on US citizens. The exact opposite of what is being reported.

Here is the standard sequence for dripping the reports on these stolen documents:

1) The Guardian via activist (not journalist)Greenwald write an “oh my god!/ hair’s on fire” article alleging that more spying on US citizens is taking place.

2) Some note is buried at the bottom or left out altogether to the point that all of these programs are aimed at foreigners, that to spy on a citizen the NSA needs a warrant, and that capturing of US citizen metadata without a warrant is incidental, and it is then destroyed.

3) Over the next day or two other media outlets following up reveal some combo of the following: the “leaked” program has actually been known about for years and reported on before; is less alarming than screeching activist Greenwald makes it out to be; is part of our legitimate spying capability (every country spies) and is aimed at foreigners.

There are lots of smart people on this site and others like it. Take a breath and use your critical thinking. Does Glenn Greenwald seem like a dispassionate observer to you? Doesn’t it seem like he has some awfully big ax to grind? Snowden stole tens of thousands of our sensitive national security documents and fled to Russia. Doesn’t it seem like he has an awfully big ax to grind?

Don’t just vacuum these “leaks” into your head. Find out what the documents really say, because they are being misrepresented. Question what Greenwald’s beef is and where his loyalties are. Ask if the information being released for all our enemies to see really qualifies as “whistle blowing.” For instance, releasing the line items of our “Black Budget” isn’t whistle blowing, it’s just handing valuable information to China,and Russia and al Queda and anyone else who is interested.

Stop just taking the popular narrative on Snowden/Greenwald. Care about your country and THINK for yourself.

#20 Comment By Myron Hudson On September 12, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

We have been penetrated and undermined by others and now betrayed by our own. If there was ever an issue that Congress could hang Obama with, this is it. However, I’m not holding my breath.

#21 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On September 12, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

Don’t forget that the State of Pennsylvania was caught actually farming out internal surveillance of citizens to an Israeli security firm. Many Israeli security firms train and maintain close contact with both private and governmental US law enforcement entities.

These stories appear but are never followed up upon by the MSM or Conservative Inc. outlets. The fix is in.

#22 Comment By tbraton On September 12, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

I seem to recall an incident during the Clinton-Lewinsky matter. Apparently, an Israeli company (I believe Comverse, mentioned by a previous poster) somehow had secured the right to tally telecommunication calls for purposes of billing and, as a result, was able to determine that Lewinsky (based on call patterns–sort of what NSA does now) was likely having an affair with Clinton. The possibility that Israel used this information to blackmail Clinton was discussed at some point, although I can’t recall specifically where I read it. I found the idea that a foreign company would be entrusted with such a sensitive role in our telecommunications system to be utterly astounding at the time I read about it.

#23 Comment By Sands On September 12, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

I would also push back against the hyperbole and pique in the headline and article. An agreement like this does not take two months to draft and agree upon. It was in the works well before Obama took office, and probably before he was elected.

Also, the leaked version of the memo isn’t executed (i.e. signed) by the NSA. Was it ever put in place? If so, when? We don’t know because these documents are being selectively presented to us by a thief and defector and a activist “journalist” in the Noam-Chomsky “everything is America’s fault” mode. They roll them out in a very particular way complete with instructions in how we should interpret them, knowing very well that 95% of readers won’t read the documents themselves to confirm what they do or don’t reveal.

Wake up people. A 30-year-old took a job at an NSA contractor explicitly to steal tens of the thousands of secret documents, in violation of his explicit oath not to do so. He took this job specifically to commit this crime. No matter how titillating you find the leaks, this is treason. These documents are related to YOUR COUNTRY’S national security. He took these documents to China and then to Russia, where he hasn’t been seen or heard from for what? A couple months now?

Snowden is a traitor and defector. A vast majority of these 20,000(?) documents are not “whistle blowing”. They are simply the national security secrets of YOUR COUNTRY. Like it or not, you are on a team. And every other country is working overtime to use these exact same techniques on us. And you folks want to unilaterally disarm by vomiting your own team’s spycraft secrets all over the international media. Wake up. I thought there were “conservatives” here.

#24 Comment By Scott Locklin On September 12, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

As Clint pointed out above, this has been “hiding in plain sight” for years now. Civil libertarians like Bamford have been talking about Verint/Comverse and Natus for years now. There have also been the occasional hint in the open source literature that the Pentagon is aware of the fact that our telephone systems are bugged by Israeli spy companies. Various respectable news outlets have occasionally commented about it over the years; for example, this slate article from earlier in the year: [2]

This, of course, should have been a national scandal decades ago when it started (90s as far as I can tell). Kudos to Greenwald for revealing a new dimension of it. It will be interesting to see how this plays out (paging the Mayor of Chicago?).

Another name which has disappeared down the memory hole: Shamai Leibowitz. An Israeli-American who was tasked with FBI spying on Hebrew speaking Israeli diplomats. The FBI investigation was squashed, and so he went public via a blogger. He made public the efforts Israeli diplomats were making to foment US war with Iran, and was charged under the espionage act of 1917 for revealing this.

Contra “Sands” this is, in fact, a big deal. We already know the “five eyes” have access to the information, which is bad enough. The idea that the Israelis are a bunch of boy scouts who are going to treat US citizens information as sacrosanct is laughably insane. The documents Greenwald/Snowden revealed document the fact that there are no useful safeguards in place.

#25 Comment By Clint On September 12, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

“In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out 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,’ the official says. ‘A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.’ “

#26 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On September 12, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

It may not be politically realistic, but this should be grounds for impeachment.

#27 Comment By can ‘o worms On September 12, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

@Clint: “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked [Israel] as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

As a matter of basic prudence we monitor subjects (Americans and others) with Israeli connections, just as we monitor those with Chinese or radical Islamist connections, and do so more comprehensively than we once monitored those connected to the Eastern Bloc. There are occasions when sharing with Israel is appropriate, but it should be obvious to even the dimmest Congressman that Israel has no place in the processing chain.

#28 Comment By Wile E. Quixote On September 12, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

Sands wrote:

Snowden is a traitor and defector. A vast majority of these 20,000(?) documents are not “whistle blowing”. They are simply the national security secrets of YOUR COUNTRY.

And yet while you’re upset and losing sphincter control over this you’re not upset at the fact that a 30 year old with a high school diploma was able to go to work for an NSA contractor and copy thousands of documents. If Booz, Allen Hamilton and the NSA were even remotely competent Snowden never would have had this kind of access. Given the incompetence of Booz, Allen Hamilton in hiring Snowden and the NSA’s incompetence in basic security measures (enforcing need to know and access control list on sensitive information and keeping records of who accesses that information and periodically auditing those records) I have to wonder how effective the NSA really is, if they can’t protect their own information from a screwup like Snowden then how are they going to protect America?

Like it or not, you are on a team.

Really, where does it say that in the Constitution? What an incredibly stupid argument, “you are on a team”. I can only imagine how you would have howled and screamed if President Obama told congressional Republicans that they “were on a team” and that they needed to shut up and support his policies.

And every other country is working overtime to use these exact same techniques on us.

This is one of the reasons I find “conservatives” like you to be morally inferior. Just because other countries are doing something doesn’t make it right. Seriously, did your parents ever introduce you to the concept that two wrongs don’t make a right? Apparently not, we’re the US damnit, we’re supposed to be, and we tell everyone, that we’re better than other countries and if that’s the case then we damned well ought to be better than them and not be running the same kind of massive phone tapping operation that the East German Stasi used against the citizens of East Germany.

And you folks want to unilaterally disarm by vomiting your own team’s spycraft secrets all over the international media. Wake up. I thought there were “conservatives” here.

How Orwellian of you “in order to protect freedom we must first destroy it by spying on everyone”. Sands, you need to head over to RedState or Fox News, there you can find the kind of “conservatives” that you’re looking for, the ones who believe that the government can do no wrong (unless of course it’s being run by Democrats) and that the citizens exist to serve the government, not the other way around.

#29 Comment By tbraton On September 12, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

” ‘A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.’ “ ”

I figure China and Russia are #1 and #2, which means Israel is by far the smallest country spying on us, but it’s small size is made up by the fact that we subsidize them to the tune of $3++++ billion a year to do their dirty work. They also have a large, well situated embassy in D.C. located at one of the highest locations in D.C. Are we saps or what?

#30 Comment By spite On September 13, 2013 @ 5:16 am

Sorry, but saying the magic words “National Security” does not cut it any more. All your excuses and arguments, “he is a traitor”, “China and Russia are the bad guys”, “Snowden has an agenda”, “national security”, not a single one of them excuses what the NSA is doing.

Russia and China are not our rivals, it is you who uses hyperbole.

#31 Comment By Puller58 On September 13, 2013 @ 7:56 am

You’ll not see this reported upon by the MSM in any serious way…

#32 Comment By TomB On September 13, 2013 @ 11:38 am

It’s a startling measure of the degree of corruption this represents when one considers that ordinarily one expects one’s country to protect its citizens from being spied upon by foreign powers, not *facilitate* same.

And in fact I’ll bet that not one single U.S. official who authorized or facilitated this truly believed that its potential for helping on the terrorist front came anywhere close to its potential to be used to blackmail, extort, manipulate, target or do God-knows-whatever-else to us.

Raises the question: Is there’s anything anymore that our elites would not take from us or subject us to for the sake of their careers? Anything at all?

Long past time to put an end to the idea of allowing careers in politics, for one thing. Long long past time.

Snowdon clearly betrayed his contract with the government, but our government has now clearly betrayed its obligation to us.

#33 Comment By long view On September 13, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

@Sands : “For instance, releasing the line items of our “Black Budget” isn’t whistle blowing, it’s just handing valuable information to China,and Russia and al Queda and anyone else who is interested.”

Indeed. It’s almost as outrageous as the NSA letting a highly dubious foreign state like Israel access the communications of American citizens – or Israel selling US military technology to dangerous competitors like China.

Etc. Etc.

#34 Comment By Sands On September 13, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

I’m not a defender of Israel. Farthest thing from.

I hope that the initial revelations spark a debate on fixing the Patriot Act and FISA court. That would be a good thing.

I’m just trying to get people to wake up the shift between the initial “whistle blowing” leaks, and what is happening now. What is happening now, is that Glenn Greenwald, a man that is very antagonistic towards the United States, is sitting on a trove of 20,000+ documents and releasing them once or twice a week to embarrass your country.

There is no definitive proof whatsoever in those documents that the NSA “hands information on US citizens to Israel”. That is spin from the Greenwald/Guardian. Realize when you are being spun, and think for yourself.

What this document seems to be saying is: “the NSA collects data on foreign targets, and sometimes share relevant data on the Middle East with Israel. As described in Section IV, the NSA shall “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of U.S. persons’ identities.” This memo of understanding is basically saying “should such measures fail, and data on US persons unintentionally gets through, Israel agrees to destroy it.”

Now I realize that will hardly make most of you feel very secure, but it is a very long way from “Obama is spying on Americans and handing it to Israel.” That is inflamatory and just flat-out disingenuous.

Read the document -think for yourself.

(Wile E. Quixote, I won’t respond to ad hominem attacks)

#35 Comment By TomB On September 13, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

Well I’ve read over the document in question here Sands, so I’ll be your huckleberry as best as I can.

In the first place while it might be said that Mr. Greenwald is indeed antagonistic towards the present American *regime* (with no evidence nor common-sense indicating that he is hostile to this *country* as you asserted), he is at least an American citizen as I understand it. And thus for what it’s worth in this debate I think is entitled to bit more of a presumption of care and allegiance to this country and us his fellow citizens than, say, the State of Israel does. Indeed, and as it clearly believes itself as evidenced by the Mr. Pollard affair alone, due to its own obligations Israel has an actual duty to harm us if that provides it with some net benefit.

And thus I think rubbishing Greenwald really only brings into focus the excellent question of who we really should be putting our trust in here.

In the second place and to at least some degree it also seems to me that you are unconsciously engaging in what is a manifestly illegitimate game: Deriding the suppositions of others for lack of certain knowledge, that is, but then totally ignoring the fact that those with such certain knowledge are refusing to make it known.

When secret-keepers play this no-one of course gives them any further credence, and yet I think you not only do so but then engage in something similar with your assertion about there being no “definitive proof” that the U.S. hands over any info on U.S. citizens to Israel.

Of course there’s any number of ways to assert this (no U.S. signer of the document has come forward and sworn on a bible to have done so!, or none has come forward and sworn that such material has been actually given over), but the fact is that when confronted with the Greenwald/Guardian allegations about the existence of this agreement the NSA refused to deny it, and simply issued its standard boiler-plate about how everything it does is legal and etc. and so forth.

In short I think that’s more than good enough to establish that this agreement exists and has been in force, and that such material as it talks about concerning U.S. citizens has been passed, and good enough to make those objecting that there’s still not enough proof of either to be regarded as being either ridiculous or disingenuous.

Lastly then and generally stated you then further assert that … only information or material related to foreign Intell targets—and foreign Intell targets only in the Middle East at that—is being collected and given over to Israel, and so somewhat further hint that it isn’t all that much even.

Well and again, I have read the agreement, and now I’d challenge you to cite what language says or even credibly supports any of that. Not least because the very opening paragraph of the agreement defining what is being given over belies absolutely everything you have said or intimated:

Thus, in that very opening paragraph (I. a.) describing what material is being provided it expressly defines same as “including, but not limited to, [sic] Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) technology and equipment and raw SIGINT data (i.e., signals intelligence information that has *not* been reviewed for foreign intelligence purposes or minimized)…”

Now of course I have added the emphasis upon the word *not* so as to note that maybe the material gathered wasn’t *even* gathered by the NSA for foreign Intell purposes at all was was instead gathered for some U.S. domestic purpose(s).

But even assuming not, this takes care of your assertion that it’s only foreign intelligence material gathering in the Middle East that’s the subject of this thing. And insofar as any implication that there’s just not a lot of material being passed on here, all I will note is that if it wasn’t much it wouldn’t *need* a big five-page agreement to try to govern that arrangement, would it?

Indeed, per what this agreement itself reveals when it talks about “raw” and “unminimized” material just simply confirms not only what common sense tells us, but what’s been otherwise known about what NSA collects and what material is being passed here.

Obviously, the NSA cannot know *what* electronic transmissions and etc. contains material of foreign Intell value. And thus just as obviously the way it must do its work is to scoop up as much of such raw data as possible, and *then* evaluate it for its further purposes. Purposes such as foreign Intell value.

And indeed this is what’s been related and confirmed by people like James Bamford, writing and talking about the NSA and its work. And NSA people themselves one of whom who I think was bragging to Bamford and who said that the goal of the NSA is to just simply vacuum up as much of the raw electro-magnetic spectrum as possible, period, which capability they were allegedly getting close to even decades ago.

Yet, as this agreement makes clear, it isn’t merely material that’s already proven to have some foreign Intell value that’s being given over to Israel, but instead not only that raw material, but “unminimized” material to boot.

And what does that “unminimized” notation mean? Well, as is well known, when in the main the NSA is asked by some other U.S. department or agency for some material not only does it not hand over its raw material but it must “minimize” it as well, scrubbing it as much as possible of info about American citizens.

But of course as per this agreement *neither* of those things is done, despite this being with a foreign power. There simply can be no doubt that tons and tons of raw, unminimized material is being passed over to Israel, containing God only knows what amount of material concerning U.S. citizens, period.

And I say “God only knows what amount” because of course given that it *is* raw material not even the NSA *itself* (much less you) can know just how much concerns U.S. citizens.

All given to a foreign power, all in a way and in the main not even given to other U.S. agencies or departments.

So *that* the outrage here, Sands, and it isn’t even answerable. Because not only *are* they clearly turning over information and material concerning the American people to a foreign power, they *themselves* can’t even know the amount or nature of same.

And if that isn’t a betrayal of the American people I don’t know what is.

#36 Comment By Peter Wagner On September 14, 2013 @ 11:39 am

I have long had a pretty fair grasp of the enormous magnitude of Israeli spying and political manipulation of the US political process…I thought. I always assumed that Israel spied and the US government was to weak and corrupt to stop them. I was, however, shocked beyond belief that my government, our government, actively colluded in this complete and traitorous sellout of the rights and most private information of 300 million American citizens for what amounts to campaign donation money from what may now only be called Israel’s fifth column in the United States. All our e-mails, faxes , tweets, facebook, phone conversations (including content), turned over to a foreign power to blackmail, strong arm, intimidate, suborn, or steal from us. It is shocking enough that these highly illegal and unconstitutional are being done to us by our own unmonitored, uncontrolled and corrupt agencies and politicians. It is monstrous that they would also sell this to a foreign power. It is absolutely urgent that this treason be ended immediately. It is also urgent that an thorough and transparent investigation be launched immediately. How, for the love of God, did this ever get approved? Who are the traitors behind this sellout. I want names. I want long, long, prison sentences, or worse, meted out for this treason. What kind of government would do this to it’s own people. Has this government finally revealed itself to be beyond reform or saving? Is this government fit to govern us???

#37 Comment By ArizonaBumblebee On September 14, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

I see where several Green Party members of the European Parliament in Strasbourgh, France have nominated Edward Snowden to receive the prestigious Sakharov Prize for 2013. Do you think President Obama would allow him to travel to France to receive the award? Or, would the President have his plane forced down to apprehend him? Fortunately for our president, Mr. Snowden is not the favorite.

#38 Comment By Johnny F. Ive On September 14, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

I wonder how this connects with Israeli security companies and organizations in the US. I think this information would be useful for Israel in regard to figuring out which Americans to deny visas to Israel.

#39 Comment By ATM On September 14, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

This is the final obsolute proof that we cannot trust our government to make good decisions about how it uses this information or how it stores it.

I would not put it past Israel to sell our information to others or use it pull political levers.

The fact that Mr Snowden was capable of exiting with all this information tells you that there are allot more people doing the same. Most likely some making a killing on wallstreat insider information, Others political operatives, Foreign spies, insuance companies, private investigative firms you name it. NSA is most likely leaking all over the place. Not just through official chanels such as Israel.

#40 Comment By Patrick G On September 15, 2013 @ 8:26 am

Israel has a tenuous long-term future in a land surrounded by Arabs who do not wish them well. They have three legs to stand on. First and most important, the backwardness of the Moslem world protects them. Second they have a modern and effective military force which can easily cope with dark-ages Islam. Third is the alliance with the great superpower. They know America is prone to isolationist periods. They surely see this coming. They can’t miss the fact that America may soon be free of the need to import oil.

We could do fine paying less attention to the Middle East. Let our allies sort out their need for this oil. We would certainly remain allies with Israel but there would be a limit to our willingness to get involved. For example, there is no way we will cooperate with an attack on Iran. We have nothing to gain by such foolishness.

I think it is a gross exaggeration to claim America is in Israel’s pocket. American Jews may be influential beyond their tiny numbers but they are starkly limited by those numbers. One wrong move could quickly turn the nation against Israel and even Jews in general. I don’t think antisemitism is a likely threat but another assault on the Liberty, for example, could change things in a hurry. A series of conspicuous spying scandals could try American’s patience. Israel remains a second tier ally, not even close to Canada, Great Britain, Australia, even Mexico. America doesn’t need Israel. We tend to sympathize with the outnumbered and tenacious people and we admire their relative respect for rule by laws.

Some Conservatives spend too much time fretting about Israel. We will not spill blood for Israel.