In the 80s, Maxwell sang that he always felt like “someone” was watching him, but according to a new leak from whistleblower Edward Snowden, it’s not just anyone. It’s Benjamin Netanyahu. According to a five-page document shared with The Guardian, the Obama administration regularly shares “raw data” with the Israeli government, information that includes everyday Americans’ cellphone numbers and emails.
Although the Obama administration has long assured us that any NSA information shared with foreign governments would be thoroughly filtered and checked, the report from Snowden shows that the exact opposite is the case. According to The Guardian, the report “repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights,” saying one thing and doing the opposite. It’s just a wink and a nudge, as if Barack Obama has suddenly become Lucille Bluth.
In addition to the aforementioned data, the agreement also allows Israel access to faxes, transcripts, gists and telex communications — if anyone even uses that. The terms of this deal were set up in 2009, shortly after Obama was elected, and there are few restrictions on what is sent to Israel. The agreement promises “minimized and unminimized data,” code for “whatever the fuck we want to send.” These documents can be kept by Israel for “up to a year,” but little is said about what happens to that data afterward.
Even better, the agreement allows Israeli intelligence officers to “disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning U.S. persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA,” so long as this doesn’t take place “in a manner that does not identify the U.S. person.” However, as Mashable’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reminds us that there are “no legal boundaries about what can be shared,” the idea that all of these identities are redacted is suspect at best. Let’s file this one in the “Yeah Fucking Right” folder.
The NSA didn’t bother denying the accusations when pressed about the leak but insisted that no funny business is happening, except for the obvious part where your data is being shared. Their spokesperson assured us, “Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights.”
This report comes after an earlier leak from 2007, noting the strained relationship between American and Israeli intelligence agencies. Although The Guardian states that government officials originally felt that a partnership between the two entities was “mutually beneficial,” this relationship is becoming increasingly “one-sided,” with American doing all the giving and Israel taking. Israel is such a selfish top.
During this leak, Edward Snowden was still holed up in a Russian airport, awaiting extradition while facing espionage charges. He’s been branded as a “traitor” and a “threat” to the lives of everyday Americans by the current administration. No word yet, however, from said administration about what threat said government poses to us.