Spy Vs. Spy

One of the more startling reveltions by Edward Snowden was that Israel is lumped with countries like China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Pakistan as a “priority target” for U.S. “surveillance and offensive” counerintelligence operations.

It’s not as though Israel hasn’t spied on the United States as well, but when the two allies aren’t targeting each other, they find a lot more time to work together, most notably targeting and sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program, with the successful (while it lasted) Stuxnet computer worm.

Since Iran is considered difficult to penetrate, a major expense item has been attempts to sabotage that country’s nuclear program, the Post reported.  In Iran, new surveillance techniques and technologies have enabled analysts to identify suspected nuclear sites that had not been detected in satellite images, according to the document.

The crown jewel of Snowden’s leaks is the U.S. intelligence community’s “black budget,” which shows how much we’re spending ($52.6 billion in FY 2013, which ends this month) and how little we know about many of the greatest national security threats this country faces.

Washington and Jerusalem have a long and productive history of close cooperation in intelligence gathering and cooperating, but they also share a justifiable suspicion that the other isn’t sharing everything, particularly where their interests may diverge.

Israel, said the Post report, “is a U.S. ally but has a history of espionage attempts against the United States.”

Paul Pillar, a retired U. S.  national intelligence officer for the Near East, told The Hill newspaper, “Israel should be assumed to continue to have an aggressive intelligence collection operations against the United States…If I were in [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s shoes and had his perspective, I would spare no effort to try to collect every bit of intelligence I could, in secret as well as openly.”

The overall figures for U.S. intelligence spending have been made public since 2007 but this is the first time details have been divulged about how the money is spent and what it has accomplished in terms of goals set by the President and the Congress.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.