Remember when we found out this entire summer that the National Security Agency was occasionally picking up conversations and information about American citizens in their quest to catch foreign threats?
Yeah, well it turns out they've been sharing some of that data with Israel.
According to documents shared with the Guardian by NSA-leak Edward Snowden, the NSA routinely provides Israel with raw intelligence — meaning that it doesn't bother to first sift through it for instances where they accidentally picked up the calls or emails of a U.S. citizen without a warrant.
The agreement between the U.S. and Israel, which was established in 2009 according to the Guardian, places no limits on what exactly Israel does with the raw intelligence provided by the NSA.
In fact, according to a memorandum leaked by Snowden, when Israel finds information on U.S. citizens, they have to notify the NSA — but after that they can hold on to "any files containing the identities of US persons" for up to a year.
The revelation goes against an earlier claim by the Obama administration that citizens' information is protected by a process called "minimization," whereby collected data is parsed through to make sure U.S. citizens aren't erroneously caught in the NSA's database. According to a memorandum related to intelligence sharing, "NSA routinely sends ISNU [the Israeli Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection."
In response to the evidence that Israel is getting unfiltered intelligence data, an NSA spokesman did not deny the charge. "Any U.S. person information that is acquired as a result of NSA's surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights," the spokesman said.
Not exactly reassuring.
Oh, and there's also a double standard when it comes to the treatment of communications of U.S. citizens versus the treatment of communications within the U.S. government. When it comes to raw intelligence that includes a government communication, Israel is to "destroy upon recognition" any communication "that is either to or from an official of the U.S. government."
Do as I say, not as I myself am protected.