The NSA Is Sending Your Data To Israel. Why?

The revelation that the NSA has agreed to share the personal data of American citizens with Israeli intelligence begs the question: Why?

Rarely a week goes by without another revelation from intelligence analyst Edward Snowden's leaks of National Security Agency classified documents.  These documents display an NSA that is utterly arrogant, thinking itself above everyone from foreigners to the American people, with the service even being used to spy on ex-lovers.  Now, another revelation has been uncovered:  The NSA wrote up an agreement with Israeli intelligence to share all raw intelligence available to them, including the personal data on American citizens.  The question has to be begged, however:  Why do Israelis need the personal data of Americans?

First, let us discuss the memorandum of understanding that is part of the agreement, found here.  The NSA made an agreement with the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU) to pass along raw intelligence from the NSA to Israeli intelligence.  There are stipulations in place, particularly that any information involving American government officials is to be destroyed, but that any information involving regular American citizens can be used, as long as they are not targeted and that their name is censored.

It is hard to imagine any activity an American citizen would be doing to gain the attention of Israeli intelligence, especially since American society subtly pushes a pro-Israel agenda as the mainstream line of thought, along with the more extreme claim that criticism of Israeli policy constitutes some warped form of anti-Semitism, and thus anti-American thought.  Outside of fringe organizations and the tattered remnants of the left that support Palestinians, there is no conceivable group or individual whose data would provide useful intelligence to the Israelis.

The NSA's wholesale sharing of intelligence to ISNU, as it stands, indicates the NSA's unwillingness to deal with the vast amounts of intelligence it collects every minute of every day.  ISNU's role in all this seems to be akin to contract work: Doing the actual business of reading intelligence, possibly to send back to NSA officials, while the NSA just continually sucks up data like a vacuum cleaner.  But the fact that Americans' personal data will be sifted through, and the NSA basically imposes an honor system on ISNU not to use that personal data when they hypocritically cannot bother to do so themselves, makes it all the more likely that Israeli intelligence have been snooping on Americans for some time.

So, again, why would the Israelis want to snoop on Americans, especially when the important figures that could affect Israeli policy, are explicitly exempt from being looked at?  There is nothing to benefit Israelis in looking at Americans' personal communications.  Unless they think something absurd is happening in America to make Americans turn against Israel.  But again, that seems unlikely.

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