Based on Snowden documents, New York Times reports how National Security Agency tracked ‘high priority Israeli military targets’, including Black Sparrow missile system & it’s drone aircraft.
By Yitzhak Benhorin
WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency spied on “high priority Israeli military targets,” a New York Times report says. Based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the report shows how the agency shares information with governments that are themselves important NSA targets, “notably Israel.”
The Snowden documents describe collaboration with Israel’s Sigint National Unit, Unit 8200, which gets raw NSA eavesdropping material and provides it in return. But they also mention the agency’s tracking of “high priority Israeli military targets,” including drone aircraft and the Black Sparrow missile system.
The NYT reviewed documents obtained by Snowden and shared by The Guardian. According to the paper, America’s largest intelligence agency, with 35,000 workers and $10.8 billion a year, is listening everywhere in the world, gathering every stray electron that might add, however minutely, to the United States government’s knowledge of the world.
Half of the intelligence material presented to the president on daily briefing comes from NSA intelligence collection, it was noted.
The report mentioned an NSA operation targeting Iran’s supreme leader. “In May 2009, analysts at the agency learned that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was to make a rare trip to Kurdistan Province in the country’s mountainous northwest. The agency immediately organized a high-tech espionage mission, part of a continuing project focused on Ayatollah Khamenei called Operation Dreadnought.”
“The NSA team studied the Iranian leader’s entourage, its vehicles and its weaponry from satellites, and intercepted air traffic messages as planes and helicopters took off and landed.”
“They studied Iranian air defense radar stations and recorded the travelers’ rich communications trail, including Iranian satellite coordinates collected by an NSA program called Ghosthunter. The point was not so much to catch the Iranian leader’s words, but to gather the data for blanket eavesdropping on Iran in the event of a crisis.”
But in a world of ballooning communication, the agency is sometimes simply overwhelmed. In 2008, the NSA’s Middle East and North Africa group set about updating its Sigint collection capabilities. The reduction in volume was treated as a major achievement, opening the way for new collection on Iranian leadership and Saudi and Syrian diplomats, the report said.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said US spying has gone too far in some cases, an unprecedented admission by Washington in the row with Europe over widespread surveillance.
“The president and I have learned of some things that have been happening in many ways on an automatic pilot, because the technology is there and the ability is there,” he told a conference in London via video link.
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View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4448655,00.html