Together with Increased Military Cooperation, U.S. Upgrades Spying on Israel

(Newsweek) William M. Arkin - Preparing for any potential war against Iran, the Biden administration has formally elevated Israel in military planning with its 2021 shift of Israel to U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Middle East, from its previous assignment as part of European Command. For the Pentagon, Israel is the most prized military and intelligence partner in the Middle East, with its vast combat experience and advanced technologies. "Israel is coming out of the closet, allowed now to openly cooperate with the [U.S.] military, while at the same time being denied access to another closet," says a senior intelligence official, referring to the world of American intelligence. The official says that for some things, such as targeting, exchanges are part of the new military alliance. Israel is a world military leader and an expert in many forms of modern warfare, including air and missile defense, directed energy weapons such as lasers, and unmanned systems. But where U.S.-Israeli interests might diverge, such as uncovering secrets about Israel's own nuclear arsenal, the U.S. has redoubled its collection efforts. The CIA is responsible for collecting information on the Israeli leadership. The U.S. armed forces are responsible for military intelligence on Israel's technology, capabilities and plans. Within the military, the NSA eavesdrops on Israeli communications - while also cooperating with its Israeli counterparts, who in turn spy on its Arab neighbors and Iran. About 1,000 qualified Hebrew linguists in the U.S. government work on questions related to Israel. About 1/3 work in intelligence collection and analysis specifically related to spying on Israel. The NSA - responsible for signals intelligence - currently has 250 Hebrew linguists who translate secure Israel government dispatches, military communications, and targeted cell phone traffic. By 2025, according to intelligence sources, the number of qualified military Hebrew linguists is programmed to double, partly to service the increased cooperation. Israel is a difficult country to spy on because of its technical expertise and its routine focus on "operational security." It practices good communications and cybersecurity discipline and uses sophisticated cryptography in coding its messages. Much of the U.S. intelligence collection effort consequently is focused on micro-targeting of individuals (i.e., their cell phones, computers and other devices).

2022-12-22 00:00:00

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