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NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel (theguardian.com)
673 points by dombili on Sept 11, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 172 comments

The worst part is here:

> Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The Israelis were required to "destroy upon recognition" any communication "that is either to or from an official of the US government". Such communications included those of "officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)".

The NSA is giving intel about officials in the US government to another country, on the honor system.

Snowden and Manning are considered traitors for doing even less.

That stood out to me too. Trusting a foreign intelligence agency to destroy what would probably be the most interesting titbits beggars belief. Given the usual "one rule for us, one rule for the public" I'd be amazed if this stuff isn't carefully filtered for official content before it is sent to others.

And it's not just Israel - I'm guessing that the other five eyes all get this stuff too.

The paragraph you cite is worded ambiguously, the Guardian is NOT reporting that the intel the NSA is sharing with Israel is about officials in the US government.

Here is the first half of the following paragraph:

>It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications.

Beware the sensationalism in this article. The only fact provided by the Guardian in this article is that NSA shares surveillance data with Israel. It is not known what kind of data is shared.

The fact that the agreement calls for Israel to "destroy upon recognition" communications involving USG officials is an acknowledgement that it might happen, which is, itself, an acknowledgement that it will happen.

Any smart information sharing agreement would cover contingencies like this. Not because they know it _will_ happen, but because they know it _might_ happen.

Not making a statement on the information sharing, just pointing out that the existence of a clause within an agreement does not mean the situations that clause covers are going to happen. For example,the iTunes EULA prohibits the software from being used to build weapons of mass destruction < http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/appstore... >


is unacceptable in this case.

If it "_might_" happen, then this particular sharing agreement should be scrapped. When it comes to this sort of thing, we need to operate in an environment of guarantees not one of assurances.

And even if there are safeguards in place to prevent this from happening (and I'm sure there are) with 99.99999repeating% accuracy, you still want something in place to mitigate or control risk if the safeguards fail. Which is no doubt what this clause is supposed to do.

99.99999% is not good enough.

That's not the way OpSec works guy.

I realize my view is strongly informed by the military... but I view this as essentially OpSec for the civilian leadership, and the principles can't be that different. I may be wrong in my interpretation of this as OpSec, but I doubt it.

If you need that clause in an agreement, FOR ANY REASON... then you need to re-evaluate the agreement. Full stop.

Senator X accidentally sends an email Y from an alternate email address that the US doesn't have directly linked to them (maybe they just created it). This email gets filtered with no reason to assume it's from senator X.

Cooperating government Z gets email Y, and discovers it's from senator X because they look more closely and connect dots the US may not have. No process could have prevented this (except stopping the sharing entirely). It's a reasonable clause.

Wrong; there's one easy process that would prevent this: manual vetting of all shared information (or at least, all info that can't be automatically vetted with absolute confidence, or would not be that critical).

Of course that wouldn't scale to a system that shares a big firehose of data or does that in real-time. Easy to solve too: don't share the firehose, and don't share in real-time. Collaboration with allies is fine but that should come as a distant second to protecting your own [citizen's] interests.

Except for this: "and connect dots the US may not have."

A manual process could certainly do a better job, but no, it still isn't a guaranteed thing.

> Collaboration with allies is fine but that should come as a distant second to protecting your own [citizen's] interests.

What makes you think the NSA is sharing data with Israel for any other reason? We have strategic and human interests where they are located.

"... (except stopping the sharing entirely)..."

So the only secure path seems clear.

To me at least.

Again, maybe this information is not as critical as information you might be exchanging in the military. I don't know. But, to me, it seems a good example of information you don't want foreign powers being privvy to.

I will admit I'm not well versed in how OpSec works. Are there no OpSec policies for what happens if something accidentally leaks? Are there no policies for what happens if a Top Secret file makes it to someone with the wrong clearance?

My gut would tell me that you want as perfect OpSec as you can manage, but then have contingencies for the occasion when something fails. Otherwise you would get the kind of flailing we're seeing right now after the Snowden leaks.

Two points:

1) When classified information is accidentally moved to a computer with a lower classification it is a shit storm. Everything stops. All hardware involved is isolated and scrubbed. If it can't be scrubbed with certainty (e.g. deallocated sectors on the hard disk that might contain classified data but can't be scrubbed anymore because they are deallocated) then the equipment is destroyed (or classified to match the level of the information that was leaked).

2) All information on a classified system is considered classified at the level of the computer system it is stored on. When there is a need to move not-really-classified information off that system (like send a log file that a vendor needs to help debug software) then it is manually inspected by a SME (subject matter expert) to positively verify it does not contain classified information and then copied off to unclassified media. But if there is any doubt, like a binary core file, the file is forbidden from leaving the system.

The main point here is that the SME positively identifies all the data as being unclassified. The assumption is that the data is classified and it must be pain-stakingly verified on a line-by-line basis. It is a real PITA.

Considering that these NSA programs are highly classified, at least TS and I'm thinking TS sci/codeword given the style of single-word names for the programs, the same sort of manual, positive identification process should be used when giving the data to another country.

Also, Israel is considered a major intelligence adversary by the US DoD. Israel and China are at the top of the list of countries they warn people with clearances to be careful of. Blithely handing over this raw SIGINT data is ridiculous given that context.

> might is unacceptable in this case.

True. Manning is in jail for a very long time based on what might happen. Clearly, the USG feels might is unacceptable in the case of release of official sources to foreign agents.

There are no guarantees. Ever. It's better to acknowledge that the best intentioned (which this is, admittedly, not) processes can screw up and plan for these screw ups.

It's why we have cops and a legal system instead of locking everyone in padded rooms.

The amount of apologism in comments like yours is stunning.

What do you mean, "there are no guarantees, ever"? The NSA employs some of the brightest minds in America, and has billions of dollars of funding and (we are just finding out) the influence and authority to do virtually anything.

There fucking MUST be guarantees. If guarantees are not possible, then information MUST NOT BE SHARED.

You're putting words in my mouth.

If you design a system based on guarantees, it's going to be brittle. It will fail, and it will be very unpleasant. If you design a system to handle contingencies, like elected official's data getting through, it's going to be more resilient. If you design a system that will handle contingencies and then spending as much money as you can on preventing those contingencies from needing to be used -- well, you're finally developing something useful.

Hell, the best guarantee a cryptographer can give you is a one-time pad, and they'll tell you that the human factors involved will be just as bad (and probably worse) than algorithms with weaknesses.

But, back to putting words in my mouth: this stuff shouldn't be shared because spying on American citizens is unconstitutional and giving the data to allied nations is backstabbing us in the name of national security -- not because it's impossible to build a perfect system to protect elected officials.

But, in this instance, there IS a path to a guarantee.

If we don't share the information with them... then we guarantee they won't be given that information by us.

You need police and a legal system because, as a general rule, citizens have rights. Israel... has no inherent right to the data in question. Therefore, if we cannot share information with them without leaking the operational particulars of the civilian leadership... then we are free to not share data with them at all. And there you have your guarantee.

As another example, the Navy is full of procedures on how to cover the situation where a procedure wasn't followed properly.

You can order a command to ensure that evals are submitted on time as much as you like but in a Navy of 320,000+ active duty sailors eventually some command somewhere will screw it up, so the Navy has procedures for that case too.

When the NSA is the group disseminating the information, it very much IS possible to guarantee that certain types of information are not shared. The most obvious solution being: don't share ANYTHING.

This is an argument of secrecy versus convenience, which you'd think for your National Security Agency, would be a pretty simple equation.

A more cynical view of this is that they've made an intentionally leaky ship to do a ring around domestic spying laws using a 'trusted' partner, but given the recent publicity, I'm not sure they care enough to have even that slim cover of legality.

> The only fact provided by the Guardian in this article is that NSA shares surveillance data with Israel.

Unfiltered data. The other fact shared is that Israelis are on the honor system with the data. As with any other spies, Israeli intel isn't known for its adherence to law or agreements.

I think it's safe to assume that Israelis have high access to the same intel the NSA has on American officials.

I think that what they actually have is probably access to the same systems (i.e. PRISM, Xkeyscore, etc.) as the NSA, with the same level of access.

You're probably wrong. The NSA analysts' database interface apps are probably only accesible inside NSA secure networks. They are designed for American espionage and have American legal limitations built-in.

After all this, you believe that? Sorry to say, that your level of naïveté is remarkable.

I'm saying that the NSA sends Israel the raw data, as this document says. Israel than probably processes the data using their own systems. There's no reason and no evidence for Israel to use American spy's database applications.

Snowden was able to access all the systems from his outsourced office in Hawaii. The NSA and the Israeli government colluded on creating Stuxnet and Duqu.

If you think that israel doesnt have access to NSA systems because they are on a "secure" network, then you're not really paying attention.

Snowden was able to access all the systems from his outsourced office in Hawaii.

You aren't the first person I've seen make this erroneous assertion. Snowden worked at an NSA site, the Hawaii Regional Operations Security Center at Naval and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific. http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=31660

Furthermore, Snowden was only "outsourced" in the sense that the division of Booz Allen that employed him is essentially an employment agency for the DoD. They aren't significantly different from the bodyshops that proliferate in the tech industry. Other parts of Booz Allen (which are now practically an entirely separate company) do operate like mini spy agencies of their own, but that is not who Snowden worked for or reported to.

You are correct - and I was too liberal in my meaning.

Also, while it is partly hyperbolic to think that Israel has direct access to NSA systems, they have 1) far less scruples than even our NSA (they send assassins into hotels to take out enemies in foreign countries in broad daylight) 2) they've been directly building cyber weapons WITH the NSA 3) they are being directly handed raw intelligence BY the NSA.

For me - the most worrysome piece is that if you look at this revelation - whereby Israel is "politely asked" to respect the privacy of USG officials, who is to say they cannot use the information within this raw data to blackmail/usurp non USG assets in lobbying, defense, civilian-intelligence-contracting positions.

We basically have zero privacy, we also have zero security, as a nation, due t the actions of the NSA.

We are now in a position where it is literally every Human being against the intelligence community.

> you're not really paying attention.

Keepin' it classy.

Raw intelligence, gathered by the NSA, in bulk, is being sent to a foreign state. Where is the sensationalism? That is about as clear cut as you can get. If you own a company, in the US or otherwise, and you have competitors in Israel you should be concerned.

Sometimes the level of convoluted arguments and rhetorical gymnastics people go to justify anything Israel related is remarkable.

If this was Chile or Brunei you bet there would be 0 apologists here justifying it. "You know I don't condone it wholeheartedly but ... blah blah sensationalized, let's all keep our cool ..." etc etc.

The article is pretty specific that the data shared is raw and unfiltered, that by itself is troublesome. Of course you and I will never know exactly what kind of data or whose data is being shared, but it is very troubling that apparently the NSA CAN'T GUARANTEE that the data shared doesn't include that of American citizens (including US officials), and asks the Israeli intelligence services to respect privacy rights without anyway of enforcing that they do.

Remember, Israel is a foreign country not bound by the US Constitution.

The very existence of this data would imply the U.S. government isn't really bound by the constitution anymore, either.

Exactly. We are sort of beyond that point. And one kind of wonders. Alright, we know how bad it really is. And then another blow comes.

What is remarkable is that quite often these revelations come after government officials have revved up their PR machine and have lied about some fact. Before they would tell lies and it was all "Yeah this is rumors, unfounded, disgruntled employee, traitor, communist homosexual etc etc wanted revenge". Now they spew a lie and bam! a new proof of contradiction follows it from Snowden's documents.

This must be very infuriating for them. World top intelligence apparatus got its pants pulled down in front of the whole world to laugh at.

I wouldn't be surprised if someone out there in Langely, VA is not planning a fatal accident involving Snowden by now. Piano falls on him from 5th floor, hmm, or something ridiculous like that. Something that might "teach" others a lesson perhaps too.

I used to think this government wasn't operating like that (obviously through my own naivete) but these days I just don't know.

This is a bit of a naive statement in light of the other information we have about the scope of collection of raw "SIGINT," as well as the errors that have been admitted to the FISC in targeted collection. And you're also selectively quoting that paragraph, too.

> In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on "the agency's attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip".

Read the primary source if you prefer...


These are the same guys that "accidentally" wiretapped the entire 202 area code (Washington, DC) in an election year.

Please point to what is sensationalized and what other sources better than your own hunch and agenda you have that what is presented is not true. Raw leaked Israeli, NSA, or CIA documents are best if possible.

50 points, 3 hours ago, not on front page. Definitely nothing screwy going on here. Regardless, here's the link to the memorandum:


My favorite part:

>1.d) This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law.

Hey Israel, we're totally against you violating the constitutional rights of American citizens --to say nothing of the human rights of all people-- but it's not like this is a "legally binding instrument" or anything. Just don't be bad, m'kay?


Why is it that some people are flagging these stories? The NSA surveillance topic is highly relevant as it intersects with technology. What does plugging ones ears and looking the other way solve?

Maybe if these people are so 'sick' of hearing about it they should do something to stop it. Or is willful ignorance bliss?

Just because people don't want to hear about it on Hacker News doesn't mean they're trying to avoid the topic. I read about it everywhere else I go: it's a topic on google news for me along with drones and a couple other things, on reddit there are plenty of subreddits that discuss NSA stuff daily.

Not saying all NSA stuff is off-topic, just that it's irritating to open a thread about something interesting and wade through tangential political discussion. We used to punt that stuff elsewhere and for good reason.

I agree with you that it's relevant to technical news, but I don't think it has anything to do with "plugging ears" or "willful ignorance."

I don't flag them (it's pointless I think), but I think the people flagging these stories are doing so because they're tired of hearing about it, and because one interpretation of the HN Guidelines supports it.

Flagging to often will cause you to very quickly lose the ability to flag at all (the 'flag' link is removed for you entirely). If people are flagging heavily and are allowed to continue to do so, then it seems to me that HN is in some form approving of their flags.

  > The NSA surveillance topic is highly relevant as it
  > intersects with technology.
Do you realize that "intersects with technology" isn't the criteria for judging what material is on-topic for HN?

I sure do! Do you realize this forum is primarily full of white males that work in nothing but technology (some who have developed the privacy-eroding tools that the NSA now slurps)?

Discussion of NSA surveillance is certainly something 'that good hackers would find interesting' - hence the current thread being on the front page and the hundreds of tech stories submitted and upvoted here daily.

There was a report about 12 years ago on the Israeli company Amdocs that is enlightening:


Amdocs "helped" install the phone lines in the White House in 1997.

Amdocs' main product is billing software, so it aggregates raw Call Data Records (CDRs) from telco switches, and turns them into customer and peer billing data amongst other things.

Just like Narus' main product was aggregating raw Internet Transmission Records from telco switches and turning them into customer and peer billing data for network usage?

No, Amdocs does billing software, which is precisely as unexciting as it sounds. CDRs contain a motherload of metadata (who called whom, how long etc), but have zero content about the actual content of the call, and they're generated by the other systems that feed into the billing system so their contents can't be changed.


Note: I'm not flagging down any of these stories, but I think there's some "spook fatigue" settling in with so many NSA stories, with only a fraction of them saying anything new.

This particular story seems to represent something very new and very troubling.

For what it's worth, at this point I simply assume the NSA is as evil as it can possibly be. There are really only a few revelations that I would still find surprising and deem HN worthy (for example, they secretly solved P=NP or have developed technology for mind reading).

The thing is, people forget very quickly, when things like the latest iPhone happen.

Also, people have to understand this:

With the government spying like this, there will be no democracy left, very soon. It's as simple and frightening as that.

With the government spying like this, there will be no democracy left, very soon

I see where you're coming from, but such outlandish claims may be doing more harm than good.

> such outlandish claims

Are you serious? Mass surveillance means people will refrain from expressing their thoughts freely. And that is part of the foundation of every democracy.

I'm mostly serious. There are two ideas that feel implicit in your statement:

1. Democracy only works if we have access to unmonitored electronic communications, which doesn't really stand up because democracy predates electronic media.


2. When people know they are being monitored, there is a profound chilling effect around politically important speech. That hasn't exactly been proven. If anything, I've seen more expression of free thoughts since the NSA stories broke.

Have to remember that it's their rules as HN isn't a democracy by any means (not saying I agree with it). It's not open, it's not bias-free (see the top level domain name of the company that owns this site?), it has strict moderation and has its own shills and sock puppets like any forum (not saying these are approved by HN).

I just started a poll on this issue here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6369530

There seems to be a faster decay for stories related to Snowden/NSA. I guess that got "hard coded" after a little while ago the front page was almost completely based on NSA related stories. Therefore the stories often staying longer on the front page seems the one that do not have Snowden or NSA in its title.

There's voting ring detection stuff that could probably be triggered if a largely overlapping bunch of people are upvoting each story. Of course it could be that people are just tired of the articles, outlets are re-reporting more often than not.

I think it's more accurate to say HN enables rather than supports the communication of news, the content is moderated and prohibits explicitly and implicitly many topics.

Well, this story is about intelligence agencies exchanging information. Afaik, intelligence agencies often spy on third parties interesting for other countries, just to have data for exchange.

I am far from an expert, but this seems like saying water is wet (inside certain temperature/pressure limits). Of course countries get a lot of access, if they have something to give back (it helps if they are democratic).

Its the HN Gods.. I tried to ask the question a few hours ago and it got killed..



That link is DELETED. Here was the TEXT.

I tried to submit a NSA* story a couple days ago about how the N S A(1) is snooping on iPhone that directly related to the FSF article(2) today while connecting it to something I read on HN 2 years ago...(3). While it isn't startup news, it does directly show and relate to EFF that the iPhone can't be a trusted platform. It seems that you directly removed the ability to add comments as well as see articles that are related to any N S A information. Why? Are you trying to control HN and dictate the direction?

(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/09/nsa-steve-jobs_n_38... (2) https://www.fsf.org/news/free-software-foundation-statement-... (3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13145562

I wish there was a more active discussion on the NSA being able to tap into any phone to access users data. That HuffingtonPost link also linked to a story with a bit more detail[1].

>"The U.S. National Security Agency is able to crack protective measures on iPhones, BlackBerry and Android devices, giving it access to users' data on all major smartphones....in which the agencies describe setting up dedicated teams for each type of phone as part of their effort to gather intelligence on potential threats such as terrorists."

This is news to me, I assume they could pull any data from an iPhone/Android/Blackberry, maybe even activate the camera if "need" be.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/08/nsa-smartphone-der-...

So why didn't you post this information in the relevant FSF thread yesterday? There was an entire thread of commenters defending Apple to the bitter end.

The shoe I'm still waiting for is whether the FBI is willing to use the sworn affidavit of foreign intelligence people with access to American intelligence as grounds for warrants issued under the 4th amendment.

In plain English, if another country tells us which Americans to go after, do we issue warrants and actually go after them? I'd be willing to bet money that we do, but nobody will want to admit to it.

They use parallel reconstruction, creating pretexts to stop someone at the border/driving. Then they fabricate a "probable cause" to to search without a warrant. It's kind of like using privilege escalation to hack into a system, except no patch is ever made.


We already know they are using intelligence data to tip off police to invent reasons to stop cars (i.e. 2mph speeding ticket) and find drugs.

This would be trickier for warrant affidavits because (I believe) those become available to defense counsel during discovery. They could hide the identity of a confidential informant from defense counsel, but I believe the judge is entitled to verify the legitimacy of CIs and might do so if the defense claimed that the probable cause came from the NSA.

Local LEOs have already been caught phoning in "anonymous tips" to themselves/their teams to create probable cause for surveillance already conducted. This was before and unrelated to the NSA revelations.

"I believe the judge is entitled to verify the legitimacy of CIs and might do so if the defense claimed that the probable cause came from the NSA."

In the past at least, how likely is it that a judge would dig much deeper once they got to "and we were tipped off to this by sources from within a foreign intelligence agency"?

Fruit of the poisonous tree. The legal standards for what can be presented in court are higher than for what can be performed and use for counter-terrorism, missing persons investigations, hostage rescue, and all sorts of police/military/intelligence actions that aren't going to end up in a courtroom.

Does anyone know the legal status of foreign intelligence agencies as far as probable cause? I don't think it'd be considered valid probable cause.

If they are basing it on American intelligence they would just tell America to look at that piece of intelligence and America would make it's own determination.

So there is no shoe to drop.

> In plain English, if another country tells us which Americans to go after, do we issue warrants and actually go after them?

The only time this comes up is with that country's own intelligence. In which case America would ask to see it, and unless you expect the intelligence to be faked there is no particular excitement.

Legally America can't look at that intelligence involving an American without a warrant issued under the 4th amendment. So you have to go to a court, and have a reason to target someone.

The position of the NSA et al is that collecting data is not an invasion of privacy until you deliberately look at it. And they never intentionally target Americans. So there is no privacy implication for Americans in their data collection. But if they are giving that data wholesale to foreigners, who then examine it, and then hand us back names to target, then it is harder to claim that our privacy is not being compromised by the initial collection.

It's about misuse of the intelligence, the method of acquisition means it can't be used in a trial. For the DEA this was whole parallel construction nonsense.

DEA has already done that with data from NSA, and then cover their tracks (IRS, too). What makes it so improbable that FBI hasn't done it, too?

The difference would be using a foriegn intelligence agency to "launder" the intel, instead of just straight up giving the data to cops and then telling the cops to 'find' (invent) a plausible legitimate reason to have that data.

I'm not sure if this is what you are talking about, but I think so, US citizens are extradited to the UK, although I'm not quite sure what distinction "based in the US" means in this context:


Nah, they would probably say it was a tip from an unnamed reliable informant. Or failing that (if the courts ask too closely) they might use the tip to formulate reasonable suspicion to engage in other surveillance in order to get probable cause.

Kind of gives a new meaning to the term "data cleansing".

I may have missed it, but I'm still waiting to hear whether the assumption about the 'five eyes' is true: whether the signals intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia & NZ spy on each others' citizens, and share that data with one another, in order to circumvent domestic spying restrictions. That is, whether the NSA spies on Canadians and gives that information to the Canadian government, while at the same time the CSE spies on Americans and gives that information to the American government.

Project Echelon seems to fit the bill:


And do they share Canadian data with Israel without Canada knowing it?

If you read the laws, you will discover that intelligence agencies are forbidden from asking anyone to do things that the agency itself may not do. The people who wrote these laws did their best to think of these loopholes.

If you argue that they would break the law, then there is no reason for a sharing agreement as the agency could just break the law and do things themselves. So, this myth can probably be buried whatever you think about the integrity of the agencies...

> are forbidden from asking anyone to do things that the agency itself may not do.

I believe there are many ways to do it without asking.

The most troubling truth of this for me is:

>Destroy upon recognition any communication contained in raw SIGINT provided by NSA that is either to or from an official of the U.S. Government. Government officials" include officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments. and independent agencies); the House of Representatives and Senate (members and staff); and the U.S. Federal Court system (including, but not limited to. the Supreme Court). "Officials" include civilian and military members and employees performing the official business of these branches of govemment, and is independent of seniority or position.

>Process only for purposes unrelated to intelligence against the U.S any communications contained in raw SIGINT provided by NSA that include references to activities. policies, and views of U.S. officials.

It's not that Israel is supposed to destroy any data they get that is either to or from a U.S. Government official that troubles me. It's both that they collect that data and that they pass it out blindly to other nations.

That is absolutely irresponsible.

The most troubling truth of this for me is... well, all of it!

I really like the way Glenn is moving the story. Every new punch is unexpected. And gives enough rope to the Administration to hang themselves.

Can by these deals the NSA whitewash intelligence? If something has come from outside sources they can use it.

Normally I can't stand Greenwald because even though he's usually right imho, he has to drama everything up so hard and force everything into a simplistic moral narrative that it's usually not even worth reading him.

But in this case, deciding when to strategically leak things, a little theatricality goes a long way, and a metric ton of theatricality goes even longer. And the machine for spinning and glossing over this stuff is so quick and vast that a handy cheap morality play might be all that stands between awareness and total effective oblivion.

So, thank FSM for Glenn Greenwald being insufferably obnoxious.

Apart from attacking the author personally, do you have any stronger argument. Usually stronger argument focuses on the content of article shared.

Shorter me: "I think Greenwald is annoying but he's doing a good job with this."

Not sure why you'd fix in on "Greenwald is annoying".


His ripping of the New Atheists got to you?

Not actually a big fan of the New Atheists. Don't recall reading Greenwald's ripping of them but I'd probably agree with most of it.

Other than Citizens United, I can't recall an issue where I've thought Greenwald was wrong on principle. I can recall a lot where I thought he was naive, annoying or obtuse. Sort of like RMS.

And in this case, it's a very good thing that he's over the top and naive. Someone who was understated and pragmatic probably wouldn't publish this at all or get as much attention if they did.

Can I try to get this straight - Five Eyes countries all co-operate in grabbing as much traffic and metadata globally as they possibly can. this raw data is also shared with at least one favoured nation.

Analysed, filtered data can then be accessed in BigData style to gather a digital picture of almost anyone globally, covering financial transactions, phone, email and medical.

out of this comes (unsurprisingly) actionable information that covers not terrorism but more common international and domestic crime (drug smuggling, other organised crime)

however due to legal and political issues the information cannot be given directly to law enforcement so it is provided via cut outs - departments in FBI / DEA who get tip offs from "anonymous sources" and pass it on.

A similar legal niceitie is performed by say having Canada process raw data about US officials and the passing on useful data to the NSA (thus no country ever actually spies on its own people)

on top of this Israeli intelligence get raw data and probably join in the game of deniable whispers.

I think that's about it so two things

1. is there a wiki where we can all update / view what is know and provable? if not who wants to help?

2. is there any evidence they have gotten into VISA ? that might tip the balance against this program publically

3. WTF !?

Here is a list of all NSA revelations:


It should also be noted that NSA + Israel were purportedly confirmed to have colluded on the creation of Stuxnet and Duqu.

Here is what i want to know: Israel has a booming tech sector. How much of the NSA data they get is shared with their tech sector to use industrial espionage to boost the performance, intel, capabilities and innovation of their tech sector?

is there any evidence they have gotten into VISA?

By VISA do you mean the credit card company "Visa"? If so, then yes of course they are there. Credit card purchasing records have been shared with law enforcement for years, and that isn't some secret NSA program.

You may be unaware, but Visa shares purchasing information with companies like Acxiom already[1] and has done for years.

Of course, you may be talking about some other "VISA".

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/technology/acxiom-the-quie...

I was unaware of total raw feeds. I was shocked to find out they were in SWIFT, and thought the shock would be wider to find they were in the credit card / transaction processing networks world wide (which I shorthanded to visa, afaik they run one big secure network for most of the card networks)

if visa simply hands over all raw data to companies already, and they just feed it off to NSA in Utah then, I don't know I give up.

BTW, thus far it seems that the Washington Post and USA Today are the only American mainstream sources touching this story:


You know it takes more than an a few hours for the mainstream press to pick up a story. Unless they can license the original article, they either have to reference the original one and write a also-ran article or they have to call sources themselves.

As of now, the LA times, Mother Jones and Salon have it. I imagine by tomorrow, it'll hit physical papers.

I've seen urgent stories hit the mainstream in minutes. The lack of urgency on the part of the mainstream wrt this story is the disturbing part.

But it is not an "urgent" story per se. Journalists have contacts of their own. Newspapers have published prior information that they'll include in the story. Some places value comprehension and coverage.

> But it is not an "urgent" story per se.

It's urgent to a lot of Americans, judging by the non-mainstream legs this story has.

Urgent != important. Urgent means time-sensitive.

Quickly developing events hit the mainstream outlets quite quickly, but with stories about newly-revealed but long-term stuff like this they can usually afford to wait a few days to get the story polished.

It's not urgent to a lot of Americans just you.

Will the news change depending on if it's reported today, tomorrow or next way ? No ? Then it's NOT urgent.

> It's not urgent to a lot of Americans just you.

OT, but a good rule to follow in civil public discussion is avoid imputing motive or desire on the part of the person you're conversing with.

IOW, avoid making it personal if you don't want to appear rude or uncivil.

Sadly, the largest American media sources are still ignoring the story almost a day later. I searched CNN, NBC News, and Fox News - nothing.

At least most of the tech news sites picked up the story.

Yeah, the number one autocomplete for 'nsa' in the nytimes search box is 'nsa israel', which is funny because they still haven't published anything on it.

I don't understand why stories like this are being flagged down.

This story has 55 points and is 3 hours ago and is on the second page, but a story with 45 points from 7 hours ago is on the homepage.

Because it's America and anything that implicates Israel in any wrongdoing is to be silenced.

Looks like the flag has now been removed, and it's up on the homepage.

Thanks mysterious inner-workings of HN :).

Seen this several times. I wonder if there is some sort of manipulation based on its being a story from the guardian and having NSA in it some where.

I think one of the reasons is that some people have a vote down button and they're using it. I don't have one for stories but I bet you anything that some special breed of users on this site do. And their votes matter more than us.


I don't see a steep drop, the tell-tale sign of a mod adjusting ranking weights/gravity.

If you can assume the worst about dragnet surveillance - NSA has already done it. That would be a pretty safe bet at this point.

As far as I know they haven't selected a portion of the population based on certain beliefs and murdered them. Obviously an organization could attempt to do this with public information, though I imagine the NSA knows where most people are most of the time - and their home addresses, or where they will be, etc.. Not meaning to jump into conspiracy, though this has happened in the past.

Wholesale murder was only necessary in the past, with its rough, inelegant tools. When the nazis needed to devote an actual human being to physical surveillance of his communist nemesis, it made sense to kill that nemesis

Now, computers can track the development of that nemesis for nearly free. If the situation develops the global network of finance can be made to exert pressure on the undesirable. Then, if the situation continues to develop, near perfect information can be used to find a law that they broke and arrest them.

We see out country using lethal force in the only situations that benefit it, namely armed confrontations or societies outside the reach of our financial and political power.

Well, that's what makes this more scary right? You could now target very specific individuals and remove the from the equation.

Well there are already clear examples of people being targeted for laptop border searches in a premeditated fashion. i.e. I can't get a warrant for the computer of citizen X, but I know s/he will be traveling outside the country and coming back on date Y through airport Z. Since constitutional rights aren't respected at borders, I can simply instruct airport Z to detain citizen X, and seize their computer equipment and copy it. This isn't even just about what happened in the UK with David Miranda. There is at least one well documented case here in the US involving a guy named David House.

These actions are definitely a step along the slippery slope of legitimizing other practices. Plus, it is entirely possible that our intelligence agencies have already targeted some individuals very specifically for neutralization somehow. We can only confirm that they have not done so through transparency and oversight.

>Through counter-intelligence, it should be possible to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them.

Jacob Applebaum has been targeted in this way as well, afaik, as well as anybody vaguely related to Wikileaks.

Drone strikes?

Remember the criteria for that? If there is a suspect, not convicted, but merely a suspect, its simply collateral damage if you also wipe out his wife and kids, oh, and family... and friends..... by standers. No due process.

Or did you mean Americans?

Well, even if you did, I have to wonder how long it will take for drones to be , er, surgically taking out drug dealers in shitty areas in the US. For the sake of the children, you understand.

Michael Hastings might beg to differ.

Do we actually get some kind of independent investigation on what really happened or have they closed the case now?

They cremated the body against the family's wishes and without them even knowing, so no, we didn't and never will.

So what happens in the situations where Israel intelligence uses US supplied information as a basis for killing an American citizen?

The Israeli intelligence agent gets a promotion.

Is there some reason you expect this to be a likely scenario?

Israel is pretty strongly focused on the Arab countries near it who are trying to destroy it. Not too many American citizens in those countries, and almost impossible for one to reach any kind of high position which would make them a target.

The USA have already drone-killed american citizens who were in Arab countries.

It's not far-fetched to imagine Israel could do it too (with more traditional methods)

There surely are american citizens that are Arabs and Israel might want to reach some of them.

To kill them? Seems far fetched to me.

They'd want to recruit them - or maybe not, since an American Arab would never be trusted by other Arabs.

An American Arab would never be trusted enough to gain any useful information, so would not be of interest to Israel (not to recruit, not to kill).

Why can't an Arab American make it? This Egyptian-born Israeli Jew did it.

> He is best known for his espionage work in 1961 - 1965 in Syria, where he developed close relationships with the political and military hierarchy and became the Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defense.


In fairness to the parent, stories like the one you posted are exactly the reason such people wouldn't be as trusted in 2013.

You are assuming that American Arab is going to enter Arab organization as a low-level member. Surely he would not fit, would not be trusted. However, I can easily see American Arabs participating in financing or coordinating Arab organizations. I can see Israel wanting to take action against such people, discovered using American intel.

First, "Arab organizations"? Like ASWAT, the Palestinian Lesbian Women organization? Or the Arab Table Tennis Federation? Or were were stereotyping Arab organizations to be something else?

Secondly, you do realize that many thousands of Arab families have family members -- brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and cousins -- who are U.S. citizens? You think they suddenly don't trust them? Same goes for lifelong friends who immigrate to different countries. I'm sure this applies to almost all Arabs (and in fact all nationalities) who have family who are U.S. citizens, regardless of whether they are fundamentalist, secularist, pacifist, or ultra-religious.

> Not too many American citizens in those countries

And here I thought the media was full of stories about the potential for U.S citizens to be radicalised and go to join jihadis.

What makes you think Mossad isn't operating on US Soil? There is more than enough public evidence showing otherwise.

Of course they are, every county has agents working in every other county. That's perfectly normal and expected.

The parent was asking about executions though.

> The parent was asking about executions though.

Plausible deniability plays a role here. Not all executions look like executions.

Correct, some executions look like free falling buildings collapsing.

Was this a not-so-subtle reference to 9/11? If so, you should really examine the physics behind the 9/11 attack. The attack itself wasn't anything more than it appeared to be.

>In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on "the agency's attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip".

This is shocking. If I were a member of Congress I would be pissed! Where is the outrage!!

We now know why the DoD is blocking the Guardian on work computers. Get high ranking DoD intel folks reading a piece like this and it's going to be a shitstorm.

I think this is actually one of the few revelations so far which is so previously unthinkable that it has the potential to isolate the NSA from the rest of the USG.

You'd be outraged up to the moment when you're shown your file. Then you'll get docile. That's the point of having a detailed file on everyone, you can pressure anyone if need be.

Oh good! We finally have a candidate for someone that the NSA considers to not be "the enemy".

Oh, they don't. Read the article: they candidly point out that Israeli agencies have a bad record of not respecting agreements with the NSA and aggressively spying on US policymakers. In fact, they are worse than most other countries; but because of an overall foreign-policy sacred cow (survival of the State of Israel), they suppress their natural objections.

Basically, the survival of Israel trumps any other US interest, even when Israel is seen as antagonistic. That's shocking.

Can't forget Operation Opera[1], it seems especially relevant (prescient?) considering the speculation of air strikes on Syria.

We may never see that kind of Israeli-Iranian cooperation ever again. It shows how much can change in 30 years.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Opera

No, no, they do. Everybody is the enemy. We have always been at war with everybody.

See the defence budget. They're on the shitlist for cyberattack, along with Iran, China, and friends. In fact, see the article, which cites this too.

My main concern is that they will use this data to target people who are pro-Palestine, or just plain anti-Israel, in America and subject them to scrutiny or worse. It makes you wonder what they give us in return. .

A few more Hollywood movies to keep y'all quiet.

Just when you this shit is bad, it gets worse. I don't even know what to say anymore.

If this turns out to be true, then it's no big deal since we shouldn't be surprised that agencies share intelligence.

If it turns out to be false, then it's anti-semitic to even think that Israel would engage in such a heinous act.

Another day, another WTF.

This makes sense. If they had the technical capability to filter out inadvertent collection of data on US citizens, they would already have filtered it. Therefore, any data shared with Israel may contain data they were unable to filter out. QED.

While true, I'd certainly be interested in knowing what types of data are being shared, and why the filter isn't a whitelist instead of being a blacklist.

Although I doubt Glenn would deign to leak any details that made any such data sharing appear more innocuous (i.e. the existence of a good reason for intelligence agency cooperation here, which may very well exist).


Not treason but certainly espionage.

Is Israel also sharing its raw intelligence with US? If so, it's a DEAL between two countries. What's the big deal?

If two criminals share your stolen property, does it make it right?

How come this story is being buried below older ones with less comments and less points? There seems to be a concerted effort to suppress this.

Some people think the story belongs here and they upvote it.

Other people think the story doesn't belong here and they flag it.

The site has some mechanisms for ageing stories.

Why single out Israel? Why would anyone think there aren't dozens of countries with the same agreement?

Not sure how you gathered that Israel is being 'singled out.' If you'd read previous articles you'd know there are many others:

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6340579

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6162341

3. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6005510

4. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6140881

5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-gchq-encryp...

NSA is partnered with the Five Eyes countries as well as any other Atlanticist government.

Assuming they have evidence of a similar agreements with other countries, it makes perfect strategic sense to lead off with Israel.

If you lead off with, say, Belgium, you are going to encounter a large amount of "eh, not particularly concerning." However leading off with a country infamous for (correctly or otherwise, it does not matter) extraordinary rendition, assassinations, and human right abuses...

Israel's enemies are for the most part the same as the US's.

So "eh, not particularly concerning" is what you would say about Israel. With Belgium I'd say exactly the opposite - this is very concerning, why is the NSA sharing data with a county with few enemies in common.

Or in other words you have your argument exactly backward.

Whether or not you agree that involvement with Israel is concerning, surely you understand why many other people may think that. You'd have to be living under a rock to not understand that US/Israel relations are a hot-button issue.

There isn't a productive conversation to be had in discussing the merits of such a concern. The issue is too toxic, so I am being intentionally neutral on this. I'm presenting the point of view, not endorsing or disputing it. Since that point of view exists and is widespread, it makes since to take advantage of it.

It's actually only a very small minority that is concerned.

The vast majority and Americans are fully supportive of America's relationship with Israel.

> and is widespread

It's actually not widespread. Well I guess it is with a certain minority, and if you only read stuff from there you'll get the impression that it's more common than it is.

> It's actually only a very small minority that is concerned.

Debatable (and keep in mind that Americans themselves are a minority here), but not an interesting debate. What is undeniable is that is an an issue that gets eyeballs, and an issue that people are vocal about.

I think you are still mixing your "understand" and "agree" signals. I am talking about a sort of realpoltik attitude towards journalism. The merits of the US/Israel relationship do not matter here, what matters is how using this example drives the story.

    The vast majority and Americans are fully supportive of America's
    relationship with Israel.
Citation needed. The polls that I've seen show that a majority of Americans don't consider Israel to be an ally.


The most obvious reason is that they happen to have documented proof of this particular agreement.

I'm so tired of this crap I'm not even engaging in the debate anymore.

Thanks. Given your comment, I doubt you would have anything useful to contribute to this.

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