The Guardian reports today: “The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about U.S. citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
“Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
“The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process ‘minimization,’ but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.
“The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.
“The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies ‘pertaining to the protection of U.S. persons,’ repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.
“But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive ‘raw Sigint’ — signal intelligence. The memorandum says: ‘Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadataand content.'” The Guardian piece is written by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill.
ALEX KANE, alexbkane at gmail.com, @alexbkane
Kane is assistant editor at Mondoweiss and at World editor for AlterNet. He just wrote the piece “National Security Agency gives data on Americans to the Israeli government.”