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New Snowden Leaked Memos Show NSA Aided Israel's "Targeted Assassinations"

Published: June 3, 2019
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Source: ZeroHedge

A couple of new bombshell leaked NSA documents from the Snowden archive published days ago by The Intercept confirms the extremely close level of cooperation between American and Israeli intelligence services, especially as part of the so-called "global war on terror" since 9/11. The documents reveal the NSA even assisted in an aggressive targeted assassination campaign waged by Israel inside Lebanon, especially during the 2006 Lebanon War. 

According to The Intercept's report  aptly titled "Israel Hated American Ban on Sharing Intel for Assassinations, so US Made New Rules" the newly unearthed NSA memos reveal attempts to find a legal loophole of sorts on the part of the US intelligence officials which would allow unprecedented information sharing related to a deeply controversial targeted assassination campaign by Israel.

Photo of Israeli airstrike on Beirut International Airport during the 2006 Lebanon War. The NSA memos reveal US cooperation during the Israeli operation. 

The Intercept report states:

As Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah exchanged blows during their short-lived but devastating 2006 war, Israeli military officials used private channels to pressure their American counterparts in the National Security Agency for intelligence to help assassinate Hezbollah operatives, according to a pair of top-secret NSA documentsThe NSA was legally restricted from providing such information but, after Israeli officials asked for an exemption, U.S. intelligence officials decided on a new framework for information-sharing.

Essentially the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), considered "Israel's NSA", convinced their US intelligence counterparts to circumvent US laws and procedures regarding intel sharing with with allied nations. 

"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," the NSA memo stated. 

“ISNU’s reliance on NSA was equally demanding and centered on requests for time sensitive tasking, threat warning, including tactical ELINT” — electronic intelligence — “and receipt of geolocational information on Hizballah elements,” the NSA official wrote. “The latter request was particularly problematic and I had several late-night, sometimes tense, discussions with ISNU detailing NSA’s legal prohibition on providing information that could be used in targeted killings.”

From a NSA presentation on Israeli intelligence sharing published by The Intercept:

“Even with his full understanding of the US statutes, [ISNU Commander] BG Harari sought assistance from NSA for an exemption to this legal policy. To ISNU, this prohibition was contrary not only to supporting Israel in its fight against Hizballah but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism.”

The Intercept concludes in its analysis of the leaked memo that NSA officials found a way around the official US prohibitions, though the precise extent of its help in the Israeli targeted assassinations campaign remains undisclosed:

The account goes on to suggest that the NSA ultimately reached a compromise with its Israeli counterpart by working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, the cabinet-level office that oversees U.S. intelligence efforts. “In the end,” the article states, “a framework was decided upon by ODNI that defined the parameters and methods of what could and could not be shared with the Israelis.” The documents do not give details of this framework.

The NSA memo recorded the Israeli reaction as follows: "Throughout all of my discussions – no matter what the tone or subject – ISNU stressed their deep gratitude for the cooperation and support they received from the NSA."

From a leaked NSA presentation on Israeli intelligence sharing published by The Intercept:

Interestingly, one leaked NSA presentation referred to ISNU as "NSA's most valued third party partner," but simultaneously acknowledged "high anxiety" among the Israelis as they had "heavy reliance on NSA for support".

One slide reads "What Did ISNU Want? Everything!!!" and lists as "issues" that might prove legal roadblocks with the US government sensitive "geolocational data" and "NSA resources" — both of which suggest US officials knew Israel could use data to potentially track Americans. 

Related Articles:

Frustrated by a legal ban on sharing intelligence with Israeli operatives conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah, the NSA crafted a loophole giving them total access even to US citizens' data, leaked documents show. The Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), the NSA's counterpart in Tel Aviv, convinced the 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.

Since the events of September 11, 2001, actions by successive U.S. administrations – backed by legislation such as the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) – have eroded privacy provisions guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Lawsuits challenging these actions have languished, with the U.S. Supreme Court having declined to hear the one case to reach it for review, Clapper vs. Amnesty International.New documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how intelligence cooperation enables repeated Israeli aggression against PalestiniansThe U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.Balancing the SIGINT exchange equally between US and Israeli needs has been a constant challenge in the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party CT relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.Indeed, because the NSA’s raw information is shared with Israel, it is possible that the Israeli government is blackmailing our congress members. The Guardian reported in September: 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.
Sunday, January 5, 2014 - NSA Admits to Spying On Congress
NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons.A leaked US intelligence document has revealed that Israel is behind the hacking of millions of phone calls and messages in France.

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