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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘NSA’

US not Only Spying on Israel, but on U.S. Pro-Israel Legislators and Groups

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The publication of several news stories in the Wall Street Journal late Tuesday, Dec. 29, produced a subterranean tremor in the crowd that closely monitors U.S.-Israel relations. The articles, on the surface, revealed information that was not all that astonishing: The Israelis spied to obtain information on the U.S. and the U.S. spied on Israel regarding the recent Nuclear Iran Deal negotiations. Big news for naifs, but not so for close and constant observers.

But just below the words looms a much bigger story, one not quite completely spelled out by the Journal reporters, Adam Entous and Danny Yadron. But that story may well, or at least should, lead to a whole new political firestorm harkening back to the furor that led to the Church Committee hearings in the 1970’s.

Because, really, who did not already know that U.S. President Barack Obama and his team were furious with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the Nuclear Iran Deal? And wasn’t it already known that the Israelis received information about the presumably “secret” back-door negotiations between U.S. intermediaries and Iran about a nuclear deal? And why would anyone be surprised that such tensions between two traditionally rock-solid allies would create or further encourage less than desirable activity to reveal what the other was doing?

But the interesting revelation was that the sharing of information between the NSA and the White House included, apparently, not only communications by senior level Israeli officials, but also communications between those officials and members of Congress, as well as between members of Congress and U.S. pro-Israel organizations.

A clue that this matters, is that the Journal published an entirely separate article laying out the law and practice regulating eavesdropping by the executive branch on federal legislators.

That article, Cold War-Era Rules Designed to Protect U.S. Lawmakers’ Communications, one of the three articles date-lined Tuesday on the topic, is probably the one over which most readers’ eyes glazed, but it was placed there for a reason.

This article explains the evolution of various safeguards on the identities of sitting members of Congress in the course of American eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. That practice, formalized during the Cold War, required the identity of lawmakers, and even of mere U.S. private citizens, be obscured, when acquired by the NSA while the security agency fishes for information to protect the homeland from, for example, terrorism.

In the 1990’s, the Journal article explains intelligence agencies were “required to notify congressional leaders of intelligence committees whenever a lawmaker’s identity was revealed to an executive branch official.” But the article reveals that this “requirement” has not been scrupulously followed in recent years.

A declassified 2011 NSA directive required analysts to destroy intercepted communications between foreign targets and U.S. officers or employees, such as legislators, unless the NSA director issued a waiver on the grounds of “significant foreign intelligence.”

The expanding network of intelligence gathering gained substantial steam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but were reportedly dramatically curtailed after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly revealed the vast width and breadth of surveillance gathering engaged in by the U.S.

In the wake of the Snowden disclosure, President Obama promised the country to curtail spying on U.S. allies. Except that a loophole remained – and a sensible sounding loophole it is –  that permitted snooping when “there was a compelling national security purpose” motivating the eavesdropping.

And here the picture comes together.

You see, the Obama administration was dead-set on reaching a nuclear weapons deal with Iran. And the Israeli people and government, and many U.S. legislators, and many American citizens, were dead-set against it. That created, apparently, what the Obama administration considered a “national security” reason for continuing to eavesdrop on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and anyone the government of Israel was talking to, and anyone who agreed with them who was speaking with American legislators.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

WJS: NSA Taps Guided Obama’s Win over Netanyahu on Iran

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

See also: US not Only Spying on Israel, but on U.S. Pro-Israel Legislators and Groups

(JNi.media) In 2011 and 2012, according to a Wall Street Journal revelation Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama were in sharp conflict over what to do about Iran’s emerging nuclear program. Netanyahu was preparing to take a page out of his predecessor, Menachem Begin’s play book on the Iraqi nuclear plant–although striking in Iran would have been far more formidable–while Obama was engaged in secret talks with the Iranians, and by secret we mean without letting Israel know.

According to the WSJ report, the White House was petrified that Netanyahu would blitz Iran without alerting the Americans, thus bringing down the house on the negotiations that were still at their most tender phase. And so US spy agencies enhanced their surveillance of Israeli political targets, for which they had approval from congressional intelligence committees.

After a few years of this, the NSA was fairly certain there was not going to be a repeat of the 1981 Operation Opera, that took out the Osirak reactor in Iraq. Except that by then the American Administration had a new reason to keep tapping Bibi: they wanted to make sure Israel was not aware of the secret talks with the Iranians, because if those became known to the Israelis, they would have sounded the alarm and the fragile negotiations could go bust. So they kept on tapping.

According to the WSJ report, after the Edward Snowden scandal had erupted and it turned out the NSA was tapping all of America’s friends, including heads of state, when President Obama promised to behave better and stop tapping everyone, that’s not what he really meant. The NSA hadn’t spent decades bugging phone and Internet networks around the world to just cut them off all of a sudden. How would they spy on everyone in the future if they needed to? So, instead, they just stopped eavesdropping. The taps stayed in place, but silent.

Except for one particular trouble spot, right around wherever Bibi happened to be at the moment. Apparently, not tapping our friendliest nation, Israel, didn’t enter anyone’s mind over at the NSA. “Going dark on Bibi? Of course we wouldn’t do that,” a senior US official told the WSJ.

And so, the NSA was certain last year that Israel was spying on the Iran negotiations in Europe, and by late 2014 they knew Mr. Netanyahu wanted to block the nuclear deal but didn’t have a strategy yet. On January 8 this year, the strategy was hatched by then Republican House Speaker John Boehner and the new Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: they invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. They contacted Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who told Bibi, who grabbed the offer.

At which point, the NSA started yet another one of their famous walks on legal thin ice, because, according to US law, there’s a huge difference between tapping foreigners, even very friendly ones, like Netanyahu, and tapping US elected officials without their knowledge. If you’re going to tap Speaker Boehner chatting with PM Netanyahu, you must disclose this to the appropriate Congressional committees. Also, an NSA directive dating back to 2011 says that direct communications between foreign intelligence targets and members of Congress should be destroyed when they are intercepted, and only the NSA director can decide otherwise regarding “significant foreign intelligence.”

The NSA is allowed to tap communications between US lawmakers after, as an example, an ambassador tells his government back home about a meeting with said lawmakers. So this is how the NSA, working for the Democrat in the White House, could spy on the conversations of the Congressional leadership, that happened to be Republican.

JNi.Media

Senate Passes Bill for Limited NSA Surveillance

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

The Senate voted 62-37 Tuesday night to pass a House bill that resumes clauses in the Patriot Ac t that expired Sunday night and left the NSA without power to collect phone data of suspected terrorists.

The bill revises the Patriot Act and ends the freedom of the NSA to collect data on everyone, even if not suspected of terror.

The new bill calls for phone companies to collect and forces the NSA to receive court permission to access records.

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law after tweeting:

Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who failed to block the passage of the bill, said, This is a step in the wrong direction. [It[ does not enhance the privacy protections of American citizens. And it surely undermines American security by taking one more tool from our warfighters at exactly the wrong time.”

House speaker John House Speaker John Boehner responded, “This legislation is critical to keeping Americans safe from terrorism and protecting their civil liberties. I applaud the Senate for renewing our nation’s foreign intelligence capabilities.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Patriot Act Expires but Probably Will be Re-Enacted

Monday, June 1st, 2015

The Senate allowed the Patriot Act, designed to help the government combat terrorism, act at midnight Sunday, but it is preparing a revised bill for the “Freedom Act” that likely will be passed.

The House of Representatives already has approved the Freedom  Act, parts of which are opposed by civil rights champions.

Until the Senate acts on its revised bill that would deal with three controversial clauses, the National Security Agency no longer is allowed to collect phone data on suspected terrorists.

Opponents of the bill point out that the NSA also can snoop on millions of American who have no ties with terror.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Netanyahu Changes to Harsher Tone on US Spying

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has gone from “soft” to “harsh” in his calculated reaction to revelations that the National Security Agency spied on former Israel prime ministers.

Apparently feeling in a minority amid the reactions of insults and rage to the idea that the United States would spy on its ally, which is what every country does these days, the Prime Minister stated, “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things which are forbidden to do, that are unacceptable to us.”

He also picked up the thread that has accompanied virtually every other Israeli reaction questioning how the Americans spy on Israeli prime ministers and justify keeping Jonathan Pollard in prison. Pollard was not convicted for spying but only for handing over for Israel’ use classified  Pentagon information on the Iraqi nuclear program.

Netanyahu told the Likud caucus Monday, “I met now with Esther Pollard and updated her on the non-stop efforts to win Jonathan’s release. He should have been released long ago. I think this is understood by everyone here and I believe it is also understood to an increasingly larger crowd in the United States.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Snowden Leak: NSA Gave Israel Data on US Citizens

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The National Security Agency provides raw data to Israeli intelligence services, according to a secret document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

A memorandum of understanding between the NSA and the Israeli Signals Intelligence Unit (ISNU), leaked by Edward Snowden to the London Guardian, states that the NSA will provide data to the ISNU without first reviewing the documents to remove sensitive information.

The process of removing U.S. residents’ personal information is called “minimization.” According to the report, the information provided to Israeli intelligence could include phone and email records of U.S. citizens.

The leaked document states that the information “includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata and content.”

JTA

NSA Phone Spying Program Foiled Plan to Blow Up NYC Subway

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

So here again the Obama administration is caught in another lie. They are reading emails.

Yes,  jihadists must be monitored.  Their emails should be read. But the Obama administration refuses to identify jihad as the cause of these attacks in America (and abroad). He thinks that by denying jihad, that gives him cover to spy on all Americans. How diabolical.

NSA phone spying program FOILED plan to blow up New York City subway, claim under fire security officials NSA domestic spying program foiled 2009 NYC subway bombing plot Daily Mail, June 9, 2010 (hat tip Lynn)
  • Government program credited by Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., House Intelligence Committee head, with thwarting planned attack
  • Alleged terrorist found out after emailing known Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan for help making a bomb
  • Attack stopped as a result of collaboration between US and British intelligence agencies

The government’s broad programs to collect U.S. phone records and Internet traffic helped disrupt a 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subways, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. But the assertion raises as many questions as it answers because court testimony indicated the subway plot investigation began with an email.

Over the past days, The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post have revealed classified documents showing how the National Security Agency sweeps up phone records and Internet data in its hunt for terrorists. Those programs have come under criticism from civil libertarians and some in Congress who say they were too broad and collected too much about innocent Americans.

Busted: NYC terror suspect Najibullah Zazi arrives in 2009 at the federal building for questioning by the FBI in Denver

In one of those programs, the NSA’s collected daily records of millions of phone calls made and received by U.S. citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing.

On Thursday, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who leads the House Intelligence Committee, credited that effort with thwarting a terrorism plot. But he did not elaborate.

Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in the 2009 plot, saying he had been recruited by al-Qaida in Pakistan.

Safe: The NSA’s domestic spying program stopped an alleged terror plot planned against the New York City subway system

The break in that case came, according to court documents and testimony, when Zazi emailed a Yahoo address seeking help with his bomb recipe.

At that time, British intelligence officials knew the Yahoo address was associated with an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan. That’s because, according to British government documents released in 2010, officials had discovered it on the computer of a terror suspect there months earlier. Because the NSA and British intelligence work so closely together and so little is known about how the NSA monitors email traffic, it’s possible that both agencies were monitoring the Yahoo address at the time Zazi sent the critical email in 2009.

A-OK: There have been no successful terrorist attacks in new York City since 9/11, perhaps in part due to the NSA’s ‘PRISM@ program

What’s unclear, though, is how the phone program aided the investigation, which utilized court-authorized wiretaps of Zazi and his friends.

Based on what’s known about the phone-records program, the NSA might have had an archive of all the phone calls Zazi had made, which might have helped authorities look for possible co-conspirators.

Because the phone program remains classified, however, it’s impossible to say with certainty how the program benefited the investigation.

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Pamela Geller

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/atlas-shrugged-blogs/nsa-phone-spying-program-foiled-plan-to-blow-up-nyc-subway/2013/06/09/

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