Friday, September 13, 2013

Is the GCSB spying for Israel?

Yesterday's NSALeak: the NSA provides its raw signals intelligence - including information on US citizens - to Israel:

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

But this isn't just about the US. Right there on the first page of the memorandum is this clause:
ISNU also recognizes that NSA has agreements with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom that require it to protect information associated with U.K. persons, Australian persons, Canadian persons and New Zealand persons using procedures and safeguards similar to those applied for U.S. persons. For this reason, in all uses of raw material provided by NSA, ISNU agrees to apply the procedures outlined in this agreement to persons of these countries.

[My emphasis]

So from this, we know know that the NSA has an agreement with GCSB to share raw data, and that the NSA thinks that GCSB provides it with intelligence on New Zealand citizens (in violation of New Zealand law). Further, that that information is provided - unfiltered - to the Israelis. In other words, the GCSB is spying for Israel (and possibly illegally spying on kiwis for Israel)

Given Israel's international reputation, its behaviour in New Zealand, and its treatment of the Palestinians, I think a lot of New Zealanders would be deeply uncomfortable with that. Our government certainly hasn't asked us whether we want an intelligence alliance with a torturing, nuclear-armed pariah state, and I think that if they did, the answer would be "no".

But it gets worse. The Israeli-NSA agreement includes a (non-binding) clause requiring Israel to "[d]estroy upon recognition any communication contained in raw SIGINT provided by NSA that is either to or from an official of the U.S. Government". Which is basically an admission that the NSA spies upon its own government. Does the GCSB-NSA agreement have a similar clause? If so, what should we conclude from that?