As more and more documents are leaked by NSA whistleblower Eric Snowden revealing the sheer scope of just how much information the NSA is able to collect and monitor, one is left to wonder just how do they sift through all of that raw data? Well a new classified document leaked to The Guardian reveals that the US may have had help from one of its closest allies, Israel.
Raw signal intelligence or SIGINT is handed over without first reviewing it and removing any information about American citizens and only vague direction about how that data is to be handled. In the classified memorandum of understanding it states: The NSA Special US Liaison Advisor Israel (SUSLAIS) should be consulted any time US Person information is found in raw SIGINT data supplied by the NSA.
Also, further into the document, the NSA stipulates that any data involving members of the US Government is to be destroyed “upon recognition.” However, some speculate that this line was included merely to provide “a legal line in the unlikely event that the NSA accidentally collects and then accidentally shares any such information.” The memorandum states explicitly that Israel is to handle the material in accordance with US law and should not deliberately target Americans “identified with the data,” but these remain only suggestions and not legal obligations.
That Israel should have such unprecedented access to US intelligence is surprising, especially since the Israeli Sigint Nationl Unit or ISNU is not part of the “Five Eyes.” The UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are cleared for much more access to US intelligence than any other countries, at least they were. In the memorandum itself the NSA offers the justification that “the survival of the state of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East Policy.”