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US gave surveillance data to a country ‘hostile’ to many Americans — Bamford

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The Israel lobby is finally getting some critical scrutiny in the mainstream media. Last week we reported that Edward Snowden seems to have been motivated to blow the whistle when he learned of surveillance that the US was passing on to the Israelis, data that recent reports have shown the Israelis used as sexual blackmail against Palestinians, to make them into collaborators. Investigative reporter James Bamford was interviewed by NPR’s Arun Rath yesterday and stressed this angle– that the US has no “right” to give secret information to a government that is hostile to our own citizens, Palestinian-Americans:

BAMFORD: this information is being used by [Israel’s spy] Unit 8,200 for things like looking for sexual activity, indiscretions and so forth and then using that to blackmail – basically to coerce innocent Palestinians into working for Israel….

RATH: What do you see as the broader implications for this revelation when it comes to the NSA’s data collection on American citizens?

BAMFORD: Well, the broad implication is the NSA is simply not trustworthy to handle this information because they are required to protect the American public not expose them to foreign intelligence service. And the problem here is that you have a lot of Palestinian-Americans who happen to live in the United States.

And if their private communications with relatives in Israel and occupied Palestine – then that puts them at great risk – puts their relatives at great risk if they talk about confidential things in an e-mail or in a telephone call. What right does the U.S. government have to give that information to a government that’s basically hostile to them?

Notice the reference to occupied Palestine and a hostile foreign government.

Then there was Chris Matthews calling out the neoconservatives as being motivated by Israeli security in pushing the stupidest decision in history, to invade Iraq. Matthews has been great lately, opposing the president’s decision to throw the country into war in Iraq yet again.

Do [people] really believe…  these characters over there in Syria and Iraq have their own personal number. Do they? ….I know the political hucksters love pushing the fear button, they exult in the word “homeland,” that ominous term cooked up by neocons to drive us off to the stupidest war decision in history, to go into Iraq with the bugles blowing and the ideologues brimming with talk of  converting the Arab Mid East into pleasant members of the United Nations, friendly neighbors of Israel and oh yeah, moderate democracies. But that talk was for a purpose of getting us into a stupid war. What’s the purpose now? Why push the armageddon button now? Could it be that scaring people is one way to justify just about anything rightwing, anything that exploits military force, anything that turns the U.S. into a relentless military presence, a machine really in the Middle East, an endless adversary and killer of Arabs and other Muslims?

People don’t push wars for the heck of it. They have beliefs about a larger interest. US security, civilizational-clash, remaking the Middle East so that the one Jewish state will be safe– and Zionism plays a role in forming these beliefs. I don’t think Americans will be fully capable of discussing the negative influence of the Israel lobby over U.S. policy till that influence fully ebbs in our political culture. But these reports are signals that Israel as a model is becoming problematic.

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9 Responses

  1. surewin
    September 22, 2014, 11:36 am

    We can be sure that Palestinian-Americans are not the only objects of Israeli surveillance and blackmail thanks to the data procured from NSA and other sources. Blackmail seems to me to be the only explanation for the behavior of most of the Senators during the Chuck Hagel hearings. That kind of behavior is too bizarre and extreme to be explained merely by campaign fund-raising concerns, nor by fund-raising and media coverage concerns combined.

    The good news is that since the 2006 election, with the replacement of Donald Rumsfeld by Robert Gates, and of GW Bush by Obama, there have been signs of a very cautious effort to undo this situation. Not all the evidence supports this view. Snowden and Bamford support it, as do many other indicia. If it’s happening, the process will take time, since the actionable information, once out, can’t be recalled, as it were. Therefore the situation might only improve generationally, as younger American politicians are less exposed.

    And another comment: Israel’s regional goal is probably a bit more ambitious than merely to be “safe”.

  2. PeaceThroughJustice
    September 22, 2014, 12:24 pm

    “… Chris Matthews calling out the neoconservatives as being motivated by Israeli security”

    Actually, Matthews doesn’t call out anyone as being motivated by Israeli security, and he never will because then he would have to explain (not least to himself) why it took so many years to name the tribal elephant.

    What he does say (at 1:30) is that the war was marketed as potentially turning the Arab nations into Israel’s friends, which, it is implied, would have been a good thing if only it had worked. This is not just morally reprehensible, but also false — given how carefully all mention of Israel was kept out of the 2002 marketing campaign.

    I’m glad to hear a little pushback here against the neocon/liberal-interventionist line, but to expect Chris Matthews to ever call out the people who employ him, publish his books, pay his speaking engagements, and constitute his social set, is expecting way too much.

  3. John Douglas
    John Douglas
    September 22, 2014, 1:53 pm

    @ Philip, “People don’t push wars for the heck of it. They have beliefs about a larger interest. US security, civilizational-clash, remaking the Middle East so that the one Jewish state will be safe– and Zionism plays a role in forming these beliefs. ”

    My question: How can we explain, in the age of Obama, the U.S. (1) going back into Iraq after the last disaster, (2) re-making and expanding its nuclear arsenal – NYT today, (3) giving thumbs-up to the vast surveillance state, (4) prosecuting no one for the 2008 crash, (5) defending Israel’s atrocities as their ‘right to defend themselves’, and worst of all, (6) largely ignoring the inevitable dangers of climate change – a development that will come down upon our grandchildren like a mushroom cloud?

    Personal ideology and psychology won’t get us there. The analysis has to be structural, a convergence of the interests of the powerful. A good start, I think is in the found in Mike Lofgren’s essay, “Anatomy of the Deep State:

  4. JLewisDickerson
    September 22, 2014, 3:35 pm

    RE: “US gave surveillance data to a country ‘hostile’ to many Americans — Bamford”

    The NSA’s Israel Scandal; James Bamford on the Snowden revelations (Duration: 27:42)
    James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factory, discusses the 43 refuseniks in Israel’s Unit 8200 (NSA equivalent) who object to spying on ordinary Palestinians and the occupation in general.
    LINK –

  5. just
    September 22, 2014, 5:24 pm

    “Notice the reference to occupied Palestine and a hostile foreign government.”

    Bamford is not your garden- variety ‘journalist’.

  6. Citizen
    September 23, 2014, 5:21 pm

    Related in a perverted way: NY Court verdict slams Arab Bank for aiding and abetting HAMAS killing/maiming of hundreds of Americans during the Second Infatada:

    Were the victims American tourists? Dual citizens or what? The article does not say.

  7. DaBakr
    September 23, 2014, 6:51 pm

    You may like to infer from what matthews said that he ‘meant’ the neocons were motivated to go to war with Iraq for the “security of Israel” but its far cry from what he actually said. My read is that the neocons used pushing some so-called and unthought out version of democracy as an excuse and the idea that these supposed democracies would therefore become ‘more friendly’ to Israel and hence- move towards solving the ME conflict. That Israel went along with the scheme only shows that Israel has always been willing to support the US admin even when policy is not always in its best interest. Netanyahu provided political cover for Cheney et al to proceed with the idiotic plan (that wasn;t planned passed the initial shock and awe. I think you know very well that Israel had advised the US and USDOD that weakening Iraq would only strengthen Iran. One could even argue that supposed US allies like Turkey had more balls to say no to the Bush ‘coalition’ then did Israel and the price Israel pays for that now is many dishonest bloggers portray Israel as the primary reason and motivator of that war when it clearly wasn’t.

    • annie
      September 23, 2014, 7:17 pm

      One could even argue that supposed US allies like Turkey had more balls to say no to the Bush ‘coalition’ then did Israel

      turkey did say no to bush. they (US) wanted to launch the invasion from turkey. no go. but framing it as taking ‘balls’ for israel to say no to bush, when all their henchmen were lining up to push the war, is what’s disingenuous and ballsy dabaker. that would be you.

  8. Pixel
    October 4, 2014, 6:09 pm

    Wow. Just wow. Never thought I’d live to see that day that the scales fell from Matthews eyes and he grew a pair. Now, if he can only put it altogether.


    Matthews: Fearmongering – manufactured, means to an end.

    Fear: (Nothing freaks Americans out quite like beheadings.)

    Matthews – confident, derisive tone: Do you really think they’re over here and are out to get you personally?

    Harry to Louise, “You know, he’s right. ”


    “Muslim Acts of Beheading Inside the United States”

    “Beheading comes to US: OK woman killed at work by Islamist”

    “Three beheadings in two different states and they happened here in America”

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