Spying on thee, not on Bibi and me

I’m certainly no fan of the NSA and its collecting all our cell phone calls, personal e-mails, text messages, beach party Instagrams, come-hither glances and making of the bedroom eyes. I admit some of this may have prevented terrorist attacks on the country. But it’s also true that this is garbage and illegal and will eventually be banned at some point, likely when the the will of the judiciary catches up to the spirit of the Constitution. I’m not legal-minded so I have no idea when everything will finally go back to being right (if it ever was).

In the meantime I find this rather pleasing:

President Barack Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state…But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch…Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S., pursuing a nuclear arms agreement with Iran at the time, captured communications between Mr. Netanyahu and his aides that inflamed mistrust between the two countries and planted a political minefield at home when Mr. Netanyahu later took his campaign against the deal to Capitol Hill.

I’ll be less circumspect about this than Murdoch’s Journal. The Israeli government, led by its prime minister, intervened in our politics to prevent the American government from avoiding war with Iran. And Netanyahu et. al. did this by conspiring with…members of the American government.

The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups. That raised fears—an “Oh-s— moment,” one senior U.S. official said—that the executive branch would be accused of spying on Congress.

Oh shit is right. You’re stone-cold spying on members of Congress – but how did all this mess come about? It came about not because the NSA was targeting a loose knit group of fans of the Israeli government. It came about because the NSA was targeting the Israeli Government.

Through the probe, the White House discovered Netanyahu’s office had “coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal,” and communicated with American lawmakers to see “what it would take to win their votes.”

Given that Netanyahu believes an American-led war with Iran is in his best interests, and that we know such a war will conflict with the best interests of Americans, who will die by the thousands, I understand why the President did it. It doesn’t bother me at all. Obviously, I’m not one of the neocons:

In January 2014, I [Glenn Greenwald] debated Rep. Hoekstra about NSA spying and he could not have been more mocking and dismissive of the privacy concerns I was invoking. “Spying is a matter of fact,” he scoffed. As Andrew Krietz, the journalist who covered that debate, reported, Hoekstra “laughs at foreign governments who are shocked they’ve been spied on because they, too, gather information”…

But all that, of course, was before Hoekstra knew that he and his Israeli friends were swept up in the spying of which he was so fond. Now that he knows that it is his privacy and those of his comrades that has been invaded, he is no longer cavalier about it. In fact, he’s so furious that this long-time NSA cheerleader is actually calling for the criminal prosecution of the NSA and Obama officials for the crime of spying on him and his friends.

What an instructive lesson. From the Israel-or-die members of our government: The NSA must have access to your dirty phone calls! But when the same spying uncovers the plans they’ve been hatching with a foreign power: Somebody is going to jail! It’s so patriotic.