Israel Accused of Planting Spying Devices Near White House to Capture Trump’s Cellphone Calls

Israel Accused of Planting Spying Devices Near White House to Capture Trump’s Cellphone Calls

If the United States spying on foreign nations hurts President Trump’s relationship with the leaders of those countries, as he allegedly believes, why is he still speaking to Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu?

That would be one of the upshots of this new report in Politico that U.S. intelligence has determined the Israelis placed multiple cell-phone surveillance devices near the White House with the hope of capturing the calls and data from the phones of the president and other high-ranking officials.

Normally, a clear-cut case of spying would result in a formal diplomatic reprimand, even if both sides know that the Israelis will keep trying to spy on U.S. leaders, and vice-versa. But perhaps Netanyahu’s efforts to flatter Trump, such as naming bus stops and settlements in the Golan Heights after him, are paying off:

One former senior intelligence official noted that after the FBI and other agencies concluded that the Israelis were most likely responsible for the devices, the Trump administration took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government.

“The reaction … was very different than it would have been in the last administration,” this person said. “With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this.”

That sounds about right for a president who has been notably lax in following security protocols. Reports during his presidency have claimed he has used an unsecure or at least insufficiently secured cellphone to talk to friends and associates outside the White House.

This is not the first time Israel has been accused of spying on U.S. officials. In 2015 there were reports the Israelis spied on the United States’ talks for a nuclear deal with Iran, then shared some of that intel with Republican lawmakers in a bid to undercut the deal.

And, as an unnamed official pointed out to Politico, the U.S. spies on Israeli officials in Tel Aviv all the time.

Read the entire story here.

 

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.