Leaked top secret documents have revealed the National Security Agency (NSA) crafted a “loophole” that gave the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) exclusive access to sensitive data, which included information on American citizens.
The purpose of sharing this intel was to initially assist Israeli operatives in conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah.
RT reports the ISNU convinced Americans to circumvent the legal prohibition on providing surveillance data for targeted assassinations during Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon, according to the newest revelation from the archives obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Using the familiar rationale of “terrorism” to excuse cooperation they knew was illegal, the NSA and ISNU found a workaround using the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that provided the Israelis with all the intel they needed, according to an October 2006 article in the NSA’s internal publication.
“To ISNU, this prohibition [on sharing data for targeted killings] was contrary not only to supporting Israel in its fight against Hizballah but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism,” said an article in SIDToday.
The author of the article, who remained unnamed, described late night discussions that took place between himself and ISNU officials, which sometimes took a “tense” turn. The officials believed they “deserved an exemption” from the United States’ prohibition on abetting targeted killings.
The leaked documents revealed how the Israeli military used U.S. intelligence to “lay waste” to Lebanon’s civilian population. RT compared this to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose kill-counts “swelled with civilian victims” after the NSA provided them access to targeting data.
Nadim Houry, a reporter for Human Rights Watch, told The Intercept, “Israel repeatedly, and in some cases egregiously, violated the laws of war.”
“[The Israelis] engaged in indiscriminate aerial attacks [and cluster bombing against] civilian infrastructure that was not tied in any way to the armed conflict.”
This brutal strategy was deemed the ‘Dahiyeh Doctrine’ and although Israeli officials later admitted it was deliberate and not just simply “collateral damage,” they were still unable to win the war.
A leaked presentation about the NSA-ISNU relationship notes that “public confidence in IDF eroded” and “IDF’s image was damaged” after the seemingly-outmatched Hezbollah fighters were able to keep the Israelis at bay. Nevertheless, the IDF was, according to the presentation, “Gearing up for Round II.” –RT
Even though the NSA had gone out of their way to provide otherwise forbidden sensitive intel to Israel, officials from the country sought (and received) even more access to the agency’s massive surveillance data troves.
A 2009 document titled ‘Memorandum of Understanding Between The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) And The Israeli Sigint National Unit (ISNU) Pertaining To The Protection Of U.S. Persons’ revealed the ISNU was given “unrestricted access” to NSA’s raw intelligence data. This information included internet and phone records of American citizens.
Only American officials’ data was excluded, on an honor-system basis (with ISNU instructed to “destroy upon recognition” any records originating with a government official). Almost no strings were attached to this bonanza – the Israelis could even release the identities of Americans whose information had been scooped up in the dragnet, as long as they asked the NSA for permission first, and could pass the data on to anyone at all if the names were redacted. –RT
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