The classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden keep on coming. The latest information to be released is a 2009 document that says the NSA often shares raw intelligence data with Israel without being reviewed first by a U.S. analyst.
Reports indicate this likely means the federal government has been sharing sensitive information on Americans to the Israelis; specifically communications such as phone calls and emails.
According to the top-secret document, the agreement between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart includes the possibility that communications from Americans may be among the intercepts released to Israel. If it is from someone working in the U.S. government, the Israelis must destroy the data immediately, but they can keep data on citizens not working for the government for as long as a year.
Don’t worry, the NSA released a statement explaining that whenever the agency does share information it complies “with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect U.S. person information.” At this point, I am not sure how many people are willing to take such a statement with anything more than a grain of salt.
The agreement does require Israel to adhere to U.S. rules on handling information on American citizens, which includes consulting with an NSA liaison officer about the information and blacking out names of Americans in intelligence report. However, the obvious question raised is, if the American people cannot trust their own government to protect individual privacy rights, what more could they expect from a foreign government — ally or not?
“One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel,” The Guardian quoted from one of the leaked documents. “There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”
So, to be clear, the NSA doesn’t trust Israel with the intercepts it releases. Makes a person wonder why the U.S. would continue with an arrangement that is not legally binding with a country it considers a potential threat.