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NSA Shared Raw Intelligence, Personal American Data with Israel

A new report reveals that the National Security Agency has been sharing personal data via raw intelligence with Israel

By: Daniel Koren
Published: September 11th, 2013 in News » World

A new report from the Guardian has revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sharing raw intelligence with Israel, without searching through it first to remove any information about American citizens.

The Guardian mentions that "whistleblower" Edward Snowden supplied the info.

The details of the operation were listed in a five-page 'memorandum of understanding' between Israel and the NSA, and indicates that the American government supplied the Israelis with intercepted communications that contain phone calls, emails, and other private information of American citizens, a violation of the American right to privacy.

The agreement between the Israelis and Americans placed no limit on the usage of the data the Israelis would receive.

The news of the US government providing Israel, a foreign country, with raw intelligence data is a direct contradiction to US President Barack Obama's administration, who have repeatedly assured the American public that they impose several safeguards to protect American citizens and their freedom to privacy.

The Guardian reports that the initial deal was reached in March 2009, and the memorandum consistently makes mention to the preservation of American privacy, and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights.

However, the memorandum also reveals that Israel would be allowed to receive 'raw Sigint' - raw signal intelligence; "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content," the document reads.

"This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law," it says.

An NSA spokesperson told the Guardian that the shared intelligence complies with all American laws that concern privacy, though the person did not necessarily deny that personal data regarding American citizens was shared via the raw intelligence shared with the Israelis.

"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," the spokesperson said.

The memorandum also stated that the Israelis were to destroy any such data "that is either to or from an official of the US government".

Whether or not any communications regarding American officials or politicians remains unclear at this point.

By law, the NSA is only allowed to collect content from email addresses and telephone calls from American citizens without a warrant, but only when the communication is between a foreign individual.

Because most internet sites today pass through American networks, many forms of communication are also intercepted by the NSA.

The document also hints that there intelligence-sharing between the Americans and Israelis have been strained at times, and that the sharing of raw data to the Israelis would help train Israeli intelligence staff members to protect American privacy.

When asked by the Guardian to what degree US data has been shared via raw intelligence, officials of the Obama administration declined to comment.

The NSA followed a similar blueprint. "We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations," the agency revealed in a statement.

"NSA cannot, however, use these relationships to circumvent US legal restrictions. Whenever we share intelligence information, we comply with all applicable rules, including the rules to protect US person information."

Related articles: Israel news, NSA, Edward Snowden, Privacy, American News, the Guardian, Raw Intelligence
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