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Myers: Israel intel for targeted assassinations; Mahathir - Russia didn't shoot down MH17

NSA fed Israel intel for targeted assassinations; Dr Mahathir says he doesn’t believe Russia shot down MH17(1) NSA fed Israel intel for targeted assassinations(2) Israel persuaded NSA to supply intel to help assassinate Hezbollah operatives in 2006(3) Signals Intelligence Directorate newsletter(4) Dr Mahathir says he doesn’t believe Russia shot down MH17(1) NSA fed Israel intel for targeted assassinations‘Most valued partner’: NSA fed Israel intel for targeted assassinations, leaked docs showPublished time: 1 Jun, 2019 00:46 Edited time: 1 Jun, 2019 01:38©  The InterceptFrustrated by a legal ban on sharing intelligence with Israeli operatives conducting targeted assassinations against Hezbollah, the NSA crafted a loophole giving them total access even to US citizens' data, leaked documents show.The Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), the NSA's counterpart in Tel Aviv, convinced the Americans to circumvent the legal prohibition on providing surveillance data for targeted assassinations during Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon, according to the newest revelation from the archives obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden.Using the familiar rationale of "terrorism" to excuse cooperation they knew was illegal, the NSA and ISNU found a workaround using the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that provided the Israelis with all the intel they needed, according to an October 2006 article in the NSA's internal publication."To ISNU, this prohibition [on sharing data for targeted killings] was contrary not only to supporting Israel in its fight against Hizballah but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism," said an article in SIDToday.Its author, whose name is redacted, details the "late-night, sometimes tense discussions" he had with ISNU officials who believed they deserved an exemption from the US prohibition on abetting targeted killings.The documents don't include details of what "arrangement" was eventually worked out with the ODNI, but the Israeli military used American data to lay waste to Lebanon's civilian population, much like the tech-enhanced US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose kill-counts swelled with civilian victims after they received access to NSA targeting data."Israel repeatedly, and in some cases egregiously, violated the laws of war," Human Rights Watch reporter Nadim Houry told the Intercept, adding that the Israelis "engaged in indiscriminate aerial attacks" and cluster bombing against "civilian infrastructure that was not tied in any way to the armed conflict."This 'strategy' had a name – the "Dahiyeh doctrine" – and Israeli officials admitted it was deliberate, but despite this brutality, they were unable to win the war. A leaked presentation about the NSA-ISNU relationship notes that "public confidence in IDF erodes" and "IDF image damaged" after the seemingly-outmatched Hezbollah fighters were able to keep the Israelis at bay. Nevertheless, the IDF was, according to the presentation, "Gearing up for Round II."Apparently unsatisfied with the legal loophole the Americans had created for them, the Israelis sought and received full access to the NSA's massive surveillance data troves after the war. A 2009 memorandum of understanding officially gave ISNU unrestricted access to the NSA's raw intelligence data – including the phone and internet records of American citizens and citizens of third-party countries. Only American officials' data was excluded, on an honor-system basis (with ISNU instructed to "destroy upon recognition" any records originating with a government official). Almost no strings were attached to this bonanza – the Israelis could even release the identities of Americans whose information had been scooped up in the dragnet, as long as they asked the NSA for permission first, and could pass the data on to anyone at all if the names were redacted.While a leaked presentation calls ISNU "NSA's most valued third party partner," it also suggests there was "high anxiety" among the Israelis "heavily reliant" on NSA data for support. One slide reads "What Did ISNU Want? Everything!!!" and complaints about the Israelis' "robust" spying on Americans crop up frequently in the Snowden archives. The NSA did not seem to mind, because the Israelis were very, very grateful for all the information."Throughout all of my discussions – no matter what the tone or subject – ISNU stressed their deep gratitude for the cooperation and support they received from the NSA," the SIDToday article reads.(2) Israel persuaded NSA to supply intel to help assassinate Hezbollah operatives in 2006 Hated American Ban On Sharing Intel For Assassinations, So U.S. Made New RulesMurtaza HussainMay 30 2019, 2:05 a.m.AS ISRAEL AND the Lebanese militia Hezbollah exchanged blows during their short-lived but devastating 2006 war, Israeli military officials used private channels to pressure their American counterparts in the National Security Agency for intelligence to help assassinate Hezbollah operatives, according to a pair of top-secret NSA documents. The NSA was legally restricted from providing such information but, after Israeli officials asked for an exemption, U.S. intelligence officials decided on a new framework for information-sharing. The documents, published on an NSA internal news site called SIDtoday and provided by agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, provide a glimpse into the intelligence relationship between two countries during the 2006 conflict.They form a two-part SIDtoday article titled "The Israel-Hizballah Crisis — Perspectives from an Acting SLO Tel Aviv," the personal account of a Tel Aviv-based NSA official — a signals intelligence liaison officer, who is tasked with managing relations with foreign partners — and their experience with their Israeli counterparts during the war. By their account, the NSA relationship with Israel during the 2006 war was strained. The NSA liaison officer recounted disputes that occurred with the Israelis over intelligence requests made by the Israeli SIGINT National Unit, or ISNU, the elite Israeli counterpart to the NSA."ISNU’s reliance on NSA was equally demanding and centered on requests for time sensitive tasking, threat warning, including tactical ELINT" — electronic intelligence — "and receipt of geolocational information on Hizballah elements," the NSA official wrote. "The latter request was particularly problematic and I had several late-night, sometimes tense, discussions with ISNU detailing NSA’s legal prohibition on providing information that could be used in targeted killings.""Even with his full understanding of the US statutes, [ISNU Commander] BG Harari sought assistance from NSA for an exemption to this legal policy. To ISNU, this prohibition was contrary not only to supporting Israel in its fight against Hizballah but overall, to support the US Global War on Terrorism.""I had several late-night, sometimes tense, discussions with ISNU." The account goes on to suggest that the NSA ultimately reached a compromise with its Israeli counterpart by working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, the cabinet-level office that oversees U.S. intelligence efforts. "In the end," the article states, "a framework was decided upon by ODNI that defined the parameters and methods of what could and could not be shared with the Israelis." The documents do not give details of this framework.With tensions between Israel and Hezbollah constantly being ratcheted up — and persistent chatter about a new conflict — the logistical, geopolitical, and legal contours of U.S. intelligence-sharing with the Israelis takes on increasing import. The reluctance of U.S. officials to share intelligence information in 2006 highlights the thorny geopolitical dynamic between these longtime allies, whose intelligence agencies are sometimes at odds with each other; it also raises questions about the legality of sharing intelligence with a partner nation operating outside U.S. legal constraints.The question of what intelligence the United States can legally share with a foreign government is notoriously murky. An executive order signed under President Ronald Reagan in 1981 established that the United States "may enter into intelligence and counterintelligence arrangements and agreements with foreign governments and international organizations." Decades later, despite revolutions in information collection and retention, as well as numerous campaigns for greater transparency on foreign intelligence-sharing, legal experts say that the legal rules about what can and cannot be shared remain opaque."There is very little we know about the U.S. government regulations pertaining to the sharing of intelligence with foreign governments," said Asaf Lubin, a legal expert on cybersecurity and privacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. "It is fair to assume that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence together with the attorney general have developed certain policies on the formulation and application of these intelligence-sharing regimes, but they are not publicly available."The NSA and Israeli intelligence drew up a memorandum of understanding in 2009, authorizing the sharing of certain raw intelligence data, according to a Snowden document published by the Guardian. The memo was controversial for apparently giving the Israelis access to data about American citizens, including private messages and metadata. But the civil liberties implications of the agreement were even more troubling when it came to data vacuumed up by the NSA about non-U.S. persons — people who are not residents or citizens of the United States — and then shared with Israeli intelligence.As a 2016 Brennan Center for Justice report on the memo noted, "None of the publicly available directives explains how intelligence agencies take into account the impact of intelligence sharing on the human rights of non-U.S. persons." The report added, "The lack of transparency raises concern that shared information could be used to repress, censor, or persecute, or commit other human rights abuses."Handwritten Note Refers to Israeli Request as "Problem Area" The memorandum of understanding between Israel and the NSA suggests a deal was reached nearly three years after the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. It’s unclear how much cooperation the NSA provided to Israel during that conflict.An internal NSA presentation, which was also classified, recapped some of the key issues that arose between the NSA and ISNU during the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Dated April 2007, the slide deck also described the NSA’s relationship with ISNU more generally. The document noted that ISNU had roughly 5,500 enlisted conscripts and 1,200 career officers, and that the Israeli agency was headquartered in Tel Aviv with "production centers" in Syria, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, and Lebanon."There is very little we know about the U.S. government regulations pertaining to the sharing of intelligence." According to the slides, Israeli officials experienced "high anxiety" and were heavily reliant on the NSA for support during the 2006 war with Hezbollah. A slide titled "What Did ISNU Want?" indicated that the Israelis sought information on kidnapped soldiers in Lebanon, Iran’s role in those kidnappings, electronic signals intelligence, and geolocational data. A handwritten note on the margins of the slide — affixed by an unknown person — described this last point as a "problem area."The presentation also appraised the war effort, noting that Hezbollah was well-prepared for the conflict and enjoyed logistical support from Iran and Syria. The group operated in civilian neighborhoods, and the Israelis were receiving "bad world press" — presumably a reference to critical news stories about the destruction wrought on Lebanon during the war. As the SIDToday documents noted, life in Tel Aviv carried on more or less normally during the fighting, with hotels and restaurants packed with customers. The presentation also observed that there was "little sympathy for civilian non-Israeli casualties from man-on-the-street."The widespread civilian harm caused by the fighting also makes the details of U.S. intelligence cooperation with Israel controversial. Human Rights Watch estimated that over 1,100 Lebanese were killed over the course of the war, largely as a result of Israeli airstrikes and shelling in southern Lebanon. Several dozen Israeli civilians were also killed by Hezbollah rocket and mortar attacks that targeted Israeli border towns. Human Rights Watch later criticized the Israel Defense Forces for using indiscriminate force, claiming that the IDF had shown "reckless indifference to the fate of Lebanese civilians.""Israel repeatedly, and in some cases egregiously, violated the laws of war," Nadim Houry, co-author of the Human Rights Watch report, said. "The Israeli military engaged in indiscriminate aerial attacks and massive use of cluster munitions, repeatedly targeting civilian infrastructure that was not tied in any way to the armed conflict."Israeli officials’ own statements seemed to back up human rights groups’ allegations that the IDF had deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure as a means of deterrence. Israeli officials later publicly dubbed this strategy the "Dahiyeh Doctrine," a name taken from a south Beirut neighborhood that suffered catastrophic destruction during the fighting. Despite employing such tactics, the IDF was largely seen to have lost the war — or at least been fought to a draw by Hezbollah. Two points on the NSA slide presentation stated that, in the aftermath of the war, "public confidence in the IDF erodes" and "military morale/confidence low."There are ominous signs that Israel and Lebanon are nearing another confrontation, during which the ISNU may again lean on the NSA for support. Although Israeli intelligence-gathering capabilities are believed to have improved since the last war, Hezbollah has also reportedly acquired significant new arms and fortified areas under its control in southern Lebanon. The IDF recently carried out operations near the Lebanese border to uncover tunnels said to have been dug by Hezbollah, and the Israeli Air Force periodically strikes Hezbollah targets in neighboring Syria.Over the past several years, Hezbollah leaders claimed to have received "game-changing" weapons that would alter the course of any future war with Israel. For their part, Israeli officials have issued a steady drumbeat of statements emphasizing the level of destruction that Lebanon would suffer during another war, specifically highlighting the grievous harm that would be caused not just to Hezbollah, but also to Lebanese civilians and infrastructure."If the next war indeed breaks out, it will be rough. But, first and foremost, it will be rough for the other side," IDF Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon warned in an interview last year. "I don’t think any Israeli citizen would want to switch places with a Lebanese citizen during the next war."(3) Signals Intelligence Directorate newsletter ARCHIVE ——THE SIDTODAY FILESSIDtoday is the internal newsletter for the NSA’s most important division, the Signals Intelligence Directorate. The Intercept released four years’ worth of newsletters in batches, starting with 2003, after editorial review. From the documents and the accompanying articles available in this archive, you can learn a surprising amount about what the agency's spies were doing, how they were doing it, and why.May. 30 2019, 2:00 a.m.After the publication of more than 2,000 NSA documents spanning four years, The Intercept is concluding the SIDtoday project with the eighth release. Drawing on 287 SIDtoday articles from late 2006, the batch reveals how a revolutionary U.S. intelligence mapping system made European allies complicit in targeted killings in Afghanistan and was later deployed on the U.S.-Mexico border. It also discloses that U.S. officials drew up a new intelligence-sharing "framework" in response to pressure from Israeli spy bosses who wanted help with assassinations; that Norwegian intelligence knew about the sinking of the Russian Kursk submarine much sooner than officials have previously said; and that a power outage took down the NSA's nerve center on a hot summer day in 2006.DOWNLOAD THIS BATCHDOWNLOAD DOCUMENTS VIA GITHUBALL UPDATESFEATURED ARTICLESMeltdown Showed Extent of NSA Surveillance — and Other Tales From Hundreds of Intelligence DocumentsMission Creep: How the NSA’s Game-Changing Targeting System Built for Iraq and Afghanistan Ended Up on the Mexico BorderIsrael Hated American Ban on Sharing Intel for Assassinations, So U.S. Made New RulesSinking of Russian Nuclear Submarine Known to West Much Earlier Than Stated, NSA Document Indicates(4) Dr Mahathir says he doesn’t believe Russia shot down MH17 PM declares ‘no evidence’ Russia shot down MH17In a jaw dropping speech, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has declared he doesn’t believe Russia shot down MH17.MAY 31, 2019Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says he does not believe Russia launched the BUK missile that brought down MH17, killing all 298 on board, including 38 Australians.The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.Among the Australian casualties were four members of the same family — Perth siblings Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin, aged 12, 10 and 8 and their grandfather Nick Norris, who had taken them on holiday.Last year Australia and The Netherlands accused the Russian Federation of direct involvement in the plane’s fate after Dutch investigators announced they had "legal and convincing evidence that would stand up in a courtroom".The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) — comprising investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — released a report in May 2018 stating that the missile system used to bring down the plane was owned by the Russian army."Based on these findings, the only conclusion we can reasonably now draw is that Russia was directly involved in the downing of MH17," Australia’s then-prime minister and foreign minister Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop said in a joint statement."The Russian Federation must be held to account for its conduct in the downing of MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which resulted in the tragic deaths of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 people who called Australia home."But in a bombshell speech to the Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC) on Thursday, Dr Mahathir was having none of it, accusing those who blamed Russia of scapegoating the nation for "political" reasons.Dr Mahathir said his government agreed the plane was brought down by a Russian missile but could not be certain the missile was launched by Russia."They are accusing Russia but where is the evidence? We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine," Dr Mahathir told the JFCC."You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians, it could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile."Dr Mahathir said it was unfeasible that the Russians, with all their military expertise, would not know that MH17 was a passenger plane."I don’t think a very highly disciplined party is responsible for launching the missile," he said.However, Dutch investigators say there is video and photo evidence showing the BUK system involved in the incident came from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade based in Kursk, western Russia.They say that evidence shows the missile had crossed the border into eastern Ukraine from Russia and returned after the plane had been shot down.Investigative website Bellingcat had previously traced the weapon to the same brigade using open-source information.Dr Mahathir also claimed there was a sinister reason behind the decision to exclude Malaysian investigators from the black box examination."We may not have the expertise but we can buy the expertise. For some reason, Malaysia was not allowed to check the black box to see what happened," he told the JFCC."We don’t know why we are excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it and the idea was to find out how this happened but seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it to the Russians."This is not a neutral kind of examination."Dr Mahathir is known to enjoy a good conspiracy theory and it’s not the first time his opinions have raised eyebrows.Last year he speculated Malaysia Airlines flight 370 — which vanished three months before MH17 was shot down and has never been found — was taken over remotely to foil a hijacking."It was reported in 2006 that Boeing was given a licence to operate the takeover of a hijacked plane while it is flying so I wonder whether that’s what happened," the 92-year-old told The Australian."The capacity to do that is there. The technology is there," he added of his theory.MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board less than an hour into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. [...]