US spies on Israel (shock, horror)

Shamai Leibowitz

Shamai Leibowitz

Ever since Monday, when The New York Times exposed the reason behind the May 2010 incarceration of FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, US and international media have been buzzing with prominent headlines like: “US government spied on Israel’s Washington embassy”. Although these headlines are accurate, they —like the articles themselves— miss the actual story behind the revelations: namely the extent of Israeli covert propaganda operations inside the United States. As intelNews reported in May 2010, Leibowitz, a lawyer with dual American-Israeli citizenship, who worked as a translator for the FBI, was sentenced to right under two years in prison, for leaking classified information. The government disclosed no further information at the time of Leibowitz’s conviction, saying only that he had been jailed for “having unlawfully disclosed classified documents to an unidentified blogger”. Now the “unidentified blogger” has come forward to reveal the details of Leibowitz’s court case, and to defend the former FBI linguist “as an American patriot and a whistle-blower”. Richard Silverstein, a Jewish American scholar, who writes a blog called Tikun Olam, said that Leibowitz gave him about 200 pages containing transcripts of conversations intercepted by the FBI in its monitoring of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. Most of the transcripts contain what appear to be telephone exchanges between staff at the Israeli embassy and outside contacts, though some appear to be the products of eavesdropping of face-to-face conversations conducted inside the Israeli embassy premises. This may be seen as evidence that the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, which is responsible for maintaining interception systems targeting foreign embassies on US soil, conducts extensive monitoring of the goings on at the Israeli embassy. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #361

  • FBI linguist jailed in leak probe. The Obama administration’s crackdown on government whistleblowers continued on Tuesday with the jailing of Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI contract linguist who disclosed classified information to the media.
  • Yemen sentences alleged Iranian spies to death. Two members of an alleged Iranian spy cell operating in Yemen were sentenced to death on Tuesday. The Yemeni government accuses Iran of arming the Shiite so-called Sa’adah insurgency along the Yemeni-Saudi border.
  • New Turkish intel chief has big plans. Among the changes that Hakan Fidan, new chief of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), intends to spearhead is “starting a separate electronic intelligence organization like the American NSA or the British GCHQ”.

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