U.S. intelligence should be kept on domestic front

New allegations pertaining to the activity of the NSA have been published by The Guardian. The allegations cite a confidential “memorandum of understanding” between the United States and Israel, which indiscriminately shares raw intelligence with Israel. According to the language of the memorandum, the intelligence includes, but is not limited to, “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.” Any assurance from the Obama administration that protections are in place for the privacy of American citizens is negated by not only the sensitive information being shared with a foreign country, but that it is being done without any restraint.

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who originally published confidential data obtained by former NSA employee Edward Snowden regarding the U.S. government’s controversial spying program, released an additional document on Tuesday, detailing the memorandum of understanding. Greenwald has chosen not to publish all the information Snowden released to him. By doing so, he is making sure that each of the offenses of the government gets its turn in the spotlight while also prolonging the original story of the NSA’s unconstitutional actions. If all the information had been released at once, the NSA story would now be dead. It instead lives on, and it will remain in the public view as long as new documents are being released.

One of the more concerning aspects of this international agreement is the way in which the information is being shared. The memorandum allows for raw intelligence — phone calls, emails and other forms of digital communication that have not been examined by U.S. officials at all — to be passed on to the Israeli government. Despite that Israeli officials agreed to discard any information pertaining to U.S. government officials and that any information received would be dealt with under U.S. law, the memorandum itself is not legally binding — and Israel is neither under any obligation, nor is accountable for any mishandling.

Although the United States and Israel share common foreign policy goals, the volatile circumstances in Syria should compel the American public to reconsider whether these mutual interests bring us too close for comfort. The degree of interdependency between America and our Middle Eastern ally is alarmingly capacious. Elevating our exposure to Israel may have the unintended consequence of rendering America vulnerable to personal privacy violations and national security threats. Sharing an inordinate amount of confidential information with any country, whether we are allies or adversaries, approaches dangerous territory.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 12. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]