U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress

crew-22312With the entire world seemingly going upside down there is one player we must stay focused.

 

Are we being led to believe by the WSJ that spying on ones enemies and allies is not the norm?  Of course it is.

Never forget the teachings of Sun Tsu.images-10

 

 

BN-LW558_1228si_P_20151228174419That would be President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

As a Member of NATO he seems to be dealing from the bottom of the deck and chooses not to take sides.

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You will recall our troops from the Tenth Mountain Division who trained for Snow Warfare were in place to help shut down Tora Bora after our bombing there at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan was halted.

NSA’s targeting of Israeli leaders swept up the content of private conversations with U.S. lawmakers

 

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined President Barack Obama last month for a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg News

President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state after the world learned the reach of long-secret U.S. surveillance programs.

But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Mr. Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.

The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.

The White House kept certain allies including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under surveillance after President Obama announced the U.S. would curtail surveillance on friendly heads of state. WSJ’s Adam Entous has details on Lunch Break. Photo: Getty

White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign. They also recognized that asking for it was politically risky. So, wary of a paper trail stemming from a request, the White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”

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WSJ’s Adam Entous explains how the U.S. determined which world leaders to spy on after announcing it would curtail surveillance.

Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.

Before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed much of the agency’s spying operations in 2013, there was little worry in the administration about the monitoring of friendly heads of state because it was such a closely held secret. After the revelations and a White House review, Mr. Obama announced in a January 2014 speech he would curb such eavesdropping.

In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping.

French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials.images-8

Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Obama mentioned the exception in his speech but kept secret the leaders it would apply to.

Israeli, German and French government officials declined to comment on NSA activities.

Turkish officials didn’t respond to requests Tuesday for comment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the NSA declined to comment on communications provided to the White House.

The White House stopped directly monitoring the private communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel but authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on her top advisers. Photo: Odd Andersen/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

This account, stretching over two terms of the Obama administration, is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former U.S. intelligence and administration officials and reveals for the first time the extent of American spying on the Israeli prime minister.

The bombing of Tora Bora where Osama bin Laden was to have been hiding below.

After Mr. Obama’s 2008 presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials gave his national-security team a one-page questionnaire on priorities. Included on the form was a box directing intelligence agencies to focus on “leadership intentions,” a category that relies on electronic spying to monitor world leaders.

The NSA was so proficient at monitoring heads of state that it was common for the agency to deliver a visiting leader’s talking points to the president in advance. “Who’s going to look at that box and say, ‘No, I don’t want to know what world leaders are saying,’ ” a former Obama administration official said.

In early intelligence briefings, Mr. Obama and his top advisers were told what U.S. spy agencies thought of world leaders, including Mr. Netanyahu, who at the time headed the opposition Likud party.

Michael Hayden, who led the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency during the George W. Bush administration, described the intelligence relationship between the U.S. and Israel as “the most combustible mixture of intimacy and caution that we have.”

 

 

The entire article below.

 

The NSA helped Israel expand its electronic spy apparatus—known as signals intelligence—in the late 1970s. The arrangement gave Israel access to the communications of its regional enemies, information shared with the U.S. Israel’s spy chiefs later suspected the NSA was tapping into their systems.

When Mr. Obama took office, the NSA and its Israeli counterpart, Unit 8200, worked together against shared threats, including a campaign to sabotage centrifuges for Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies targeted one another, stoking tensions.

“Intelligence professionals have a saying: There are no friendly intelligence services,” said Mike Rogers, former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Early in the Obama presidency, for example, Unit 8200 gave the NSA a hacking tool the NSA later discovered also told Israel how the Americans used it. It wasn’t the only time the NSA caught Unit 8200 poking around restricted U.S. networks. Israel would say intrusions were accidental, one former U.S. official said, and the NSA would respond, “Don’t worry. We make mistakes, too.”

In 2011 and 2012, the aims of Messrs. Netanyahu and Obama diverged over Iran. Mr. Netanyahu prepared for a possible strike against an Iranian nuclear facility, as Mr. Obama pursued secret talks with Tehran without telling Israel.

 
The NSA maintains the means to monitor the communications of Photo: Yasin Bulbul/Associated Press

Convinced Mr. Netanyahu would attack Iran without warning the White House, U.S. spy agencies ramped up their surveillance, with the assent of Democratic and Republican lawmakers serving on congressional intelligence committees.

By 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies determined Mr. Netanyahu wasn’t going to strike Iran. But they had another reason to keep watch. The White House wanted to know if Israel had learned of the secret negotiations. U.S. officials feared Iran would bolt the talks and pursue an atomic bomb if news leaked.

The NSA had, in some cases, spent decades placing electronic implants in networks around the world to collect phone calls, text messages and emails. Removing them or turning them off in the wake of the Snowden revelations would make it difficult, if not impossible, to re-establish access in the future, U.S. intelligence officials warned the White House.

Instead of removing the implants, Mr. Obama decided to shut off the NSA’s monitoring of phone numbers and email addresses of certain allied leaders—a move that could be reversed by the president or his successor.

There was little debate over Israel. “Going dark on Bibi? Of course we wouldn’t do that,” a senior U.S. official said, using Mr. Netanyahu’s nickname.

One tool was a cyber implant in Israeli networks that gave the NSA access to communications within the Israeli prime minister’s office.

Given the appetite for information about Mr. Netanyahu’s intentions during the U.S.-Iran negotiations, the NSA tried to send updates to U.S. policy makers quickly, often in less than six hours after a notable communication was intercepted, a former official said.

Emerging deal

NSA intercepts convinced the White House last year that Israel was spying on negotiations under way in Europe. Israeli officials later denied targeting U.S. negotiators, saying they had won access to U.S. positions by spying only on the Iranians.

By late 2014, White House officials knew Mr. Netanyahu wanted to block the emerging nuclear deal but didn’t know how.

On Jan. 8, John Boehner, then the Republican House Speaker, and incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed on a plan. They would invite Mr. Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. A day later, Mr. Boehner called Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, to get Mr. Netanyahu’s agreement.

Despite NSA surveillance, Obama administration officials said they were caught off guard when Mr. Boehner announced the invitation on Jan. 21.

Soon after, Israel’s lobbying campaign against the deal went into full swing on Capitol Hill, and it didn’t take long for administration and intelligence officials to realize the NSA was sweeping up the content of conversations with lawmakers.

The message to the NSA from the White House amounted to: “You decide” what to deliver, a former intelligence official said.

NSA rules governing intercepted communications “to, from or about” Americans date back to the Cold War and require obscuring the identities of U.S. individuals and U.S. corporations. An American is identified only as a “U.S. person” in intelligence reports; a U.S. corporation is identified only as a “U.S. organization.” Senior U.S. officials can ask for names if needed to understand the intelligence information.

The Obama administration included French President François Hollande on a so-called protected list, shielding him from NSA snooping. ENLARGE
The Obama administration included French President François Hollande on a so-called protected list, shielding him from NSA snooping. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

The rules were tightened in the early 1990s to require that intelligence agencies inform congressional committees when a lawmaker’s name was revealed to the executive branch in summaries of intercepted communications.

A 2011 NSA directive said direct communications between foreign intelligence targets and members of Congress should be destroyed when they are intercepted. But the NSA director can issue a waiver if he determines the communications contain “significant foreign intelligence.”

The NSA has leeway to collect and disseminate intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers if, for example, foreign ambassadors send messages to their foreign ministries that recount their private meetings or phone calls with members of Congress, current and former officials said.

“Either way, we got the same information,” a former official said, citing detailed reports prepared by the Israelis after exchanges with lawmakers.

During Israel’s lobbying campaign in the months before the deal cleared Congress in September, the NSA removed the names of lawmakers from intelligence reports and weeded out personal information. The agency kept out “trash talk,” officials said, such as personal attacks on the executive branch.

Administration and intelligence officials said the White House didn’t ask the NSA to identify any lawmakers during this period.

“From what I can tell, we haven’t had a problem with how incidental collection has been handled concerning lawmakers,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He declined to comment on any specific communications between lawmakers and Israel.

The NSA reports allowed administration officials to peer inside Israeli efforts to turn Congress against the deal. Mr. Dermer was described as coaching unnamed U.S. organizations—which officials could tell from the context were Jewish-American groups—on lines of argument to use with lawmakers, and Israeli officials were reported pressing lawmakers to oppose the deal.

“These allegations are total nonsense,” said a spokesman for the Embassy of Israel in Washington.

A U.S. intelligence official familiar with the intercepts said Israel’s pitch to undecided lawmakers often included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take?”

NSA intelligence reports helped the White House figure out which Israeli government officials had leaked information from confidential U.S. briefings. When confronted by the U.S., Israel denied passing on the briefing materials.

The agency’s goal was “to give us an accurate illustrative picture of what [the Israelis] were doing,” a senior U.S. official said.

Just before Mr. Netanyahu’s address to Congress in March, the NSA swept up Israeli messages that raised alarms at the White House: Mr. Netanyahu’s office wanted details from Israeli intelligence officials about the latest U.S. positions in the Iran talks, U.S. officials said.

A day before the speech, Secretary of State John Kerry made an unusual disclosure. Speaking to reporters in Switzerland, Mr. Kerry said he was concerned Mr. Netanyahu would divulge “selective details of the ongoing negotiations.”

The State Department said Mr. Kerry was responding to Israeli media reports that Mr. Netanyahu wanted to use his speech to make sure U.S. lawmakers knew the terms of the Iran deal.

Intelligence officials said the media reports allowed the U.S. to put Mr. Netanyahu on notice without revealing they already knew his thinking. The prime minister mentioned no secrets during his speech to Congress.

In the final months of the campaign, NSA intercepts yielded few surprises. Officials said the information reaffirmed what they heard directly from lawmakers and Israeli officials opposed to Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign—that the prime minister was focused on building opposition among Democratic lawmakers.

The NSA intercepts, however, revealed one surprise. Mr. Netanyahu and some of his allies voiced confidence they could win enough votes.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com and Danny Yadron at danny.yadron@wsj.com

About JCscuba

I am firmly devoted to bringing you the truth and the stories that the mainstream media ignores. Together we can restore our constitutional republic to what the founding fathers envisioned and fight back against the progressive movement. Obama nearly destroyed our country economically, militarily coupled with his racism he set us further on the march to becoming a Socialist State. Now it's up to President Trump to restore America to prominence. Republicans who refuse to go along with most of his agenda RINOs must be forced to walk the plank, they are RINOs and little else.
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5 Responses to U.S. Spy Net on Israel Snares Congress

  1. Pamela says:

    It use to be that a little spying on behalf of US Intelligence, often with the cooperation of other affiliated international agencies, kept the world a safer place from the diabolical schemes of third world dictators and other nasty critters whose names regularly surfaced in CIA files. Not so today.
    Like other bureaus of the federal government, intelligence gathering is being used and abused by the Obama Administration as a political and personal weapon against anyone perceived as a challenge or a threat to his policies, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    Like Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama holds the current leader of Israel with much contempt, if not outright disrespect. I remember when he (Obama) left Mr. Netanyahu waiting downstairs in the White House while he dined with his family upstairs, yet, this terrible breach of presidential protocol and arrogance by Obama was barely mentioned in the news media.
    It does not surprise me in the least that he would resort to spying on this noble man and friend of the United States. Unlike Obama, Mr. Netanyahu is a true leader of his people in these turbulent and uncertain times. Furthermore, I cannot blame the Israelis for spying on our government, especially after Obama’s disastrous deal-making with Iran, not to mention his role as a regular apologist for militant Islam, which seeks to wipe the nation and people of Israel off the face of the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blessed B. says:

      You’re right Pamela!

      To think that Israel didn’t know that their conversations were being heard by Obi and minions is crazy! Israel knows that the USA is not a true friend!

      What Obi and minions don’t know…..Israel was also keeping track of what they were doing via Obi’s blackberry! Israel has one of the top intelligence agencies in the world……the USA is not one of those top four! The 4 agencies all communicate with one another…….

      Like

  2. Dave the Differentiator says:

    The “SPY GAME” has a long and colorful history. George Washington used spy’s in the Revolution.

    There are a number of books that expose the Central Intelligence Agency and its related spy groups inside America’s government.

    The book “AREA 51” by Annie Jacobson is a good example of examining the secret workings inside America’s government. Of course, all of the various governments have different levels of spying.

    When Snowden sacrificed his personal life to expose NSA and its spying practices the Media attacked him. Snowden is a “Whistle Blower” and needs protection.

    The book “The Company” is a chronology of the CIA and is worth a read.

    If you like satire then try “You Are Stepping On My Clock and Dagger”

    There is a link between Yale University and the CIA and this link also ties Stanford University to the CIA.

    Of course, there is much speculation about the Skull & Bones Society at Yale and its links into the Politics and the CIA.

    To the best of my knowledge the CIA has good guys and some very bad wicked guys. Essentially, my personal experience with the CIA is that they are a bunch of lying cheating dishonest bastards who believe, as Hillary does, that the Rule of Law does not apply to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JCscuba says:

      Perfectly stated Dave…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Blessed B. says:

      “the CIA ……are a bunch of lying cheating dishonest bastards …”

      YEP! The CIA has essentially gone rogue…..believing they are kings within their own little fiefdom! They are not trusted by other countries…especially Israel and Russia. The CIA doesn’t even like taking any orders from Barry the Traitor…..they are basically just using him for now…..he could be exterminated though when his term is up!

      Like

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