Israel regularly receives invaluable, unfiltered intelligence data on American civilians from the US National Security Agency, according to a top-secret document leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published on Wednesday.
The document, which dates from 2009 and was published in the Guardian, details an agreement between Israel and the US regarding the transfer of raw information on Americans that has not been reviewed by NSA agents.
The agreement does not state any restrictions on possible Israeli use of information about ordinary US citizens. However, according to the agreement, data concerning US officials must be destroyed by the IDF.
The Guardian report further states that Israel had received transcripts of intercepted phone calls made by American citizens, as well as transcripts of US residents’ e-mail correspondence. Other transferred information includes fax records, telex messages and personal voice mail.
The document goes on to specify that the NSA consultant for Israel must receive an update on any information about US citizens that is passed on to Israel.
Although the Obama administration had stated in the past that information shared with foreign entities had been safeguarded in order to protect private US citizen’s information, the agreement plainly shows no such process took place with regard to information transferred to Israel.
The agreement was signed by the chief of Israel’s Signal Intelligence National Unit, an intelligence squad known as IDF unit 8200, in March 2009. The document itself, however, was undated.
Other top-secret, collaborative operations between Israel and the US have been exposed by Snowden’s leaks of NSA activities. He has charged that the Stuxnet virus, known for sabotaging Iranian computers linked to the country’s nuclear program, was the byproduct of an American and Israeli spy agency project.
When asked whether the NSA helped write the Stuxnet program, Snowden said “the NSA and Israel wrote Stuxnet together.”
Iran claims the Stuxnet virus was part of a campaign against its nuclear program by Western states.
However, other documents released by Snowden indicated that US intelligence, with its expanded reach in the post 9/11 era, included Israel as a “priority target” for intelligence gathering.
According to a report by the Washington Post, a 178-page classified budget summary of the US National Intelligence Program, reveals that intelligence efforts “are strategically focused against [the] priority targets of China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Israel.”
The document details a “$52.6 billion ‘black budget,’” which shows a “bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny,” the report said.
The budget files show that the surveillance agency warned in 2012 that it planned to investigate up to 4,000 reports of possible internal security breaches. The NSA’s concerns about insider threats were aimed at “anomalous behavior” of agency employees with access to top-secret data. The account cited NSA concerns about “trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized access to sensitive information to harm US interests.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.