Did Israel snoop on Kerry?

posted at 12:41 pm on August 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

After more than a year on defense over allies snooping on allies, the US might have some reason to go on offense. Der Spiegel claimed yesterday that Israeli intelligence listened in on conversations between Secretary of State John Kerry and other entities last year while Kerry attempted to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Der Spiegel’s sources, Israel wasn’t the only country snooping on Kerry’s calls, either:

SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.

The US might have cause to be angry … except that Kerry apparently made it pretty easy for snoopers to snoop:

During the peak stage of peace talks last year, Kerry spoke regularly with high-ranking negotiating partners in the Middle East. At the time, some of these calls were not made on encrypted equipment, but instead on normal telephones, with the conversations transmitted by satellite. Intelligence agencies intercepted some of those calls. The government in Jerusalem then used the information obtained in international negotiations aiming to reach a diplomatic solution in the Middle East.

In other words, this isn’t quite the same as the NSA penetrating the cell phone of Angela Merkel, or at least not as it pertains to unsecured communications. If the US Secretary of State uses unsecured communications for sensitive talks, then that reflects more on the US than it does on whoever else listened in on those conversations. After all, the unspoken truth in the international dust-up over the NSA’s operations is that all countries gather intelligence, even on their friends, just to make sure they are remaining friendly if for no other reason. Some, like the French, snoop to gain commercial advantage, but most snoop to ensure that they don’t get any unpleasant surprises from enemies or friends.

Besides, the US has a pretty narrow platform on which to express anger over surveillance of their top officials after the Merkel wiretap embarrassment. The current administration has even less after Kerry’s poor performance in this latest crisis, in which he attempted to appease Hamas via Turkey and Qatar in order to get a cease-fire agreement. Kerry managed to claim that he had succeeded in getting a 72-hour humanitarian stoppage only to have Hamas double-cross him and attempt to use their tunnels to abduct an IDF soldier. That ended the cease fire after 90 minutes and resulted in Benjamin Netanyahu scolding Kerry and warning him “not to ever second guess me again.”

Netanyahu didn’t deny making that remark, although yesterday he did try to put a more positive spin on it:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not deny a report that he told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro “not to ever second guess me again” on how to deal with Hamas, though he said the report did not reflect the general “tone and substance” of the calls. …

In his news conference Saturday night, Netanyahu attempted to lump in the Associated Press report, which neither American nor Israeli officials have denied, with a supposed transcript of a phone call between Obama and Netanyahu that has been widely rejected as bogus by officials in both governments.

“There is a lot of support and we deeply appreciate it, and that is the substance of our relationship, that’s the tone of our relationship, which gets to the question of these reports that are not only of my conversation with Ambassador Shapiro but also with the President that are full of incorrections, full of distortions and are wrong in both tone and substance.”

In other words, Netanyahu may have intended that as friendly advice. Perhaps he could have offered more in the same vein, such as: You may want to think about hardening your comms security, old sport.

So who was the other intelligence agency that penetrated Kerry’s calls? Der Spiegel doesn’t say, but don’t be surprised if the contents start leaking in Russian, tovarishch.


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I certainly hope so

NOMOBO on August 4, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Why is this supposed to be a surprise?

Everybody is spying on everybody else.

davidk on August 4, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Only America can spy!

portlandon on August 4, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Why the long face, Lurch?

OmahaConservative on August 4, 2014 at 12:44 PM

As is the Obama Administration isn’t spying on – or, at least, trying to – spy on Netanyahu and the Israelis.

Resist We Much on August 4, 2014 at 12:45 PM

I hope they did. Kerry’s mission was to save Hamas.

ConstantineXI on August 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

As is the Obama Administration isn’t spying on – or, at least, trying to spy on – Netanyahu and the Israelis.

FIFM

Resist We Much on August 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Those Jooooooooooooooooos are sneaky!!

ToddPA on August 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Hasn’t Obama’s “support” given them plenty of reasons to?

cartooner on August 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Did Israel snoop on Kerry?

They’d be foolish not to…imho…

workingclass artist on August 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Botch

forest on August 4, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Sure they did – I would expect nothing less, considering that ‘team obama’ snoops on everyone. But, what exactly did Israel get from this? Hours of idiot John Kerry blathering and whining.

Pork-Chop on August 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

TO BE FAIR

Kerry grew up when we had PARTY LINES for our phones….maybe he forgot security protocols?

originalpechanga on August 4, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Unencrypted phone? I figured they just overheard him out in the hall because of the shouty way he talks.

forest on August 4, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Does anyone here think for one second that the US does not listen in on every piece of Israeli intelligence and politics and conversations that exist?? Please, the whole story is stupid, of course countries spy on each other…. they might as well have a story saying water is wet

georgealbert on August 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM

There’s a report that a someone used a “tractor” to attack a bus in Israel.

It was a big honkin’ track hoe: https://twitter.com/cohen_yoram/status/496245562153250817

Justice was swift (“alleged” attack):

Update: Tractor driver in alleged terror attack on bus in Jerusalem shot dead by police – @haaretzcom

davidk on August 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Kerry tries to hold his disintegrating face together.

Michael Jackson Syndrome.

Bat Chain Puller on August 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

It’s an insult not to be spied upon. Unless, perhaps, you are San Marino or Andorra.

rbj on August 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Stand up, Joe. God luv ya:

US Vice President Joe Biden at US-Africa Leaders Summit: ‘No democracy can thrive without an informed citizenry and active civil society’ – @msmarkham

davidk on August 4, 2014 at 12:53 PM

If they did, it was probably very entertaining listening.

dogsoldier on August 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Did they bug his personal cellphone? ;)

AlexB on August 4, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Kinda reminds me of Judge Smails with the conspicuous way he talks. It’s like Kerry is always delivering remarks to a large room without a microphone. They probably has to wear ear protection to listen in on this buffoon.

forest on August 4, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Resist We Much on August 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM

We know what you mean. :]

davidk on August 4, 2014 at 12:56 PM

They probably listen to it when they can’t fall asleep at night. ZZzzzzzz…

Rational Thought on August 4, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Sure hope so. Kerry is not their friend and Kerry is a snake.

petefrt on August 4, 2014 at 12:58 PM

1) Who cares? This is Deer Spiegel & the US Media trying to drive a wedge between the US & Israel…. News Flash: Nations spy on one another, even their friends.
2) Is John Kerry that arrogant or stupid? I can’t tell which one? UNENCRYPTED?!?! OK, you might as well have had the conversation on a street corner in Jerusalem, in front of the Russian Embassy after giving public notice of the meeting….I don’t what you say to someone who is (Supposedly) Shocked, SHOCKED that his unsecured, but important Government Negotiations were compromised.

JFKY on August 4, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Reminds of the ol’ adage, “What goes around, comes around.”

vnvet on August 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Kinda reminds me of Judge Smails with the conspicuous way he talks. It’s like Kerry is always delivering remarks to a large room without a microphone. They probably has to wear ear protection to listen in on this buffoon.

forest on August 4, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Exactly! The guy makes everything sound like a Toastmasters competition. Just compare him with that steely eyed, poker faced top diplomat for the Rooskies, who speaks softly and looks like a stone cold killer. Him…I’ll listen to.

butch on August 4, 2014 at 1:06 PM

That must have been a popular assignment./

talkingpoints on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Hasn’t Obama’s “support” given them plenty of reasons to?

cartooner on August 4, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Obama has given Israel more money than any president before him. He financed and approved joint research for the iron dome program.

When Israel was almost out of ammo shooting fishes in a barrel in gaza, he quickly replenished their stock so they could do it again. But that will never be enough. Nothing short of total submission to Israel will be enough for some. Any minor disagreement is seen as treasonous.

What America’s relationship with Israel needs desperately is the help of Cesar Millan. And not a moment too soon.

coolrepublica on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

If they did, they found nothing of substance…

right2bright on August 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM

JFKY on August 4, 2014 at 12:58 PM

You’re telling us that John Kerry was using a nonsecure phone to pass false info back on purpose? He was doing counterespionage rather than being the stupid doofus he has already shown himself to be?

butch on August 4, 2014 at 1:11 PM

With our current foreign policy, who could blame them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama & company double cross Israel.

tommer74 on August 4, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Any negotiators who don’t eavesdrop for the yacht-tax dodging Addams Family butler’s true motives are asking for trouble.

viking01 on August 4, 2014 at 1:14 PM

I suspect they’re snooping on *anyone* that they feel is a threat to their security.

Midas on August 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Pot meets kettle; pot very angry.

What in the world could the WH complain about? I mean, how exactly would it be worded?

“You spied on our private, diplomatic conversations. That is not how allies treat each other. When we do it, just ask Chancellor BigOl’butt in Germany, its for the children”

BobMbx on August 4, 2014 at 1:17 PM

coolrepublica on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Can Rev. Jeremiah Wright be tied to Israel’s next missile strike against Gaza?

Pretty please..

sentinelrules on August 4, 2014 at 1:17 PM

Did Israel snoop on Kerry?

I don’t trust him either. Why not?

ConservativePartyNow on August 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

I suspect they’re snooping on *anyone* that they feel is a threat to their security.

Midas on August 4, 2014 at 1:15 PM

THREAD WINNER.

ToddPA on August 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Obama has given Israel more money than any president before him.

coolrepublica on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

*BZZZZT*

Thanks for playing, but I’m afraid this is incorrect.

Obama has averaged $2.957B per year (all years, 2009-forward).

Reagan’s second term (’85-’88) averaged $3.356B per year.

Bush (’89-’92) averaged $3.323B per year.

Clinton (’93-’00) averaged $3.226B per year.

Bush’s first term (’01-’04) averaged $3.040B per year.

Bush’s second term (’05-’08) averaged $2.518B per year (less than the average during Obama’s terms so far). The decline actually began in ’04 after a high spot in ’03.

Midas on August 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

I have no problem with this. If anything I would expect it and any security agent of the US would’ve pointed that out.

That means there are two reasons this is news.

To smear Israel.

More proof of the incompetency of the Obama Administration.

I choose the latter… To smear Obama.

Skywise on August 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

Kerry tries to hold his disintegrating face together.

Michael Jackson Syndrome.

Bat Chain Puller on August 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

In that picture I imagine JF’nK saying “Lovey, I can’t feel my face!”

slickwillie2001 on August 4, 2014 at 1:28 PM

No, I’m not saying Kerry was trying to run a maskirovka by using unencrypted communications systems. I just wondered if he was truly stunned to discover his communications were compromised? And if he WAS stunned was it because he’s an idiot or an arrogant fool? It could be both I guess.

JFKY on August 4, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I’m not surprised by this (all countries spy on each other, it’s SOP), but especially not surprised because it’s Kerry. Next to Joe Biden, John Kerry is in the running for The Stupidest Man in Politics.

RebeccaH on August 4, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Nothing to worry about: the Israelis were just collecting metadata, Mr. Kerry.

Dolce Far Niente on August 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM

I wonder if they picked up any signals of intelligent life.

cthemfly on August 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM

No surprise. Incompetence is a hallmark of this administration. Otherwise, they wouldn’t hire you.

GarandFan on August 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM

It’s so comforting that the adults are in charge.

socalcon on August 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM

They could understand what What Did You Do To Your Face Lurch was saying?

TerryW on August 4, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Kerry and his boss are agents of the Muslim B’hood and Hamas. Of course Israel has been intercepting their communications. You always want to see what the enemy is up to.
Israel wants to survive and our feckless administration is more concerned about bake sales, flooding the job market with low-skilled workers (but future D voters so that’s OK), and a well-oiled abortion industry.

oceansidecon on August 4, 2014 at 2:06 PM

I hope they keep on spying on him. Help us out Israel!

MTF on August 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Besides, the US has a pretty narrow platform on which to express anger over surveillance of their top officials after the Merkel wiretap embarrassment.

Not to miss Brazil and the cold shoulder the WH got after that…cancelled WH dinner, even.

Schadenfreude on August 4, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Knowing the Obama administration, the other eavesdropper was probably NSA. If Obama spies on Senate Dems, then why not on his own Secretary of State.

As for Mr. “Let’s Talk over by this Hot Mic,” I’m not surprised that he does not use secure comm. Kerry does provide that perfect soupcon of incompetence and foolishness to the Mulligatawny that is Obama’s foreign policy. He makes Obama look serious and discreet.

Esaus Message on August 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

They were after the CIA hat Kerry keeps in his briefcase.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on August 4, 2014 at 2:25 PM

As well they should have.

rlwo2008 on August 4, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Who can blame them for spying on someone claiming to be their friend yet actively works against them?

UnstChem on August 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Midas on August 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Heh. Doing the work trolls don’t want to can’t do.

davidk on August 4, 2014 at 3:13 PM

I hope they keep on spying on him. Help us out Israel!

MTF on August 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

I expect that the Israelis have a new appreciation for Valerie Jarrett’s role in Barry’s sorry administration.

slickwillie2001 on August 4, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Obama has given Israel more money than any president before him.

coolrepublica on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

math is hard huh?

dmacleo on August 4, 2014 at 3:22 PM

He’s soft on Commies, so I don’t blame them a bit.

formwiz on August 4, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Did they hear him say he served in Vietnam?

Dingbat63 on August 4, 2014 at 3:41 PM

What America’s relationship with Israel needs desperately is the help of Cesar Millan. And not a moment too soon.

coolrepublica on August 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM

The dog whisperer?

This is why people like you should be banned, you post just to incite with no real reason but to incite.

right2bright on August 4, 2014 at 4:52 PM

Did Israel snoop on Kerry?

Snooping on Kerry is kind of like sneaking in to a “Three Stooges” filming.

In either case, there is nothing worth learning.

landlines on August 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Countries snoop on their enemies all the time, so why shouldn’t Israel snoop on Kerry?

Axion on August 4, 2014 at 8:18 PM

Nothing to worry about: the Israelis were just collecting metadata, Mr. Kerry.

Dolce Far Niente on August 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM

That’s funny. I really did laugh out loud. Kerry is such a pompous-ass.

Axion on August 4, 2014 at 8:21 PM

I don’t know about you, but if I had the enemy in my camp I’d keep him under close surveillance too. Kerry is not, and never be a friend of Israel, he is as anti-Semitic as Obama and Holder.

savage24 on August 5, 2014 at 10:57 AM