Greenwald's Latest: NSA Shares Raw American Intel With Israel

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 11 2013 11:21 AM

Greenwald's Latest: NSA Shares Raw American Intel With Israel

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A woman watches a footage on her computer, showing the lawyer of fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden showing his client's one year's asylum permit at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on August 1, 2013.

Photo by stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Glenn Greenwald and the Guardian's latest Snowden-fueled scoop:

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.
Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.
The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.
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The intel-sharing deal was reached in principal in March 2009, according to the five-page memoradum that lays out the the ground rules that stress the need for Israel to respect the constitutional rights of Americans. But the Guardian argues such privacy-protecting efforts are undermined by the fact that Israeli intelligence agencies were allowed access to raw personal data of American citizens that had not previously been filtered by the NSA. Notably, the rules that govern the use of that intel are much less strict that the rule that required Israel to "destroy upon recognition" any communication they determined to be to or from a U.S. government official. As far as Greenwald's scoops go, this one doesn't seem like an earth-shaker to me, but the full thing is still worth a look.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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