Trump Administration Accused of Ignoring Israel’s Spying Devices Placed Around White House

Joanna Estrada
September 12, 2019

Politico reported that the U.S. government suspects that Israel was "most likely" behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C.

Last week, Netanyahu spent a day in London, meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper to discuss, he said, Iranian entrenchment in the Middle East, particularly on Israel's northern border.

Amos Yadlin, the former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, reportedly posted on Twitter that the Politico story is "fake news spiced with anti-Semitism" and that for decades, Israel has banned spying on the U.S.

In contrast to other instances of foreign spying, Washington has declined to punish or rebuke Jerusalem on the matter, the report said. The report calls these devices "StingRays", saying they "mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information", plus they can also "capture the contents of calls and data use".

The report said some people within the Trump administration had suspected Israel was eavesdropping on communications from the White House.

Politico reported that United States officials believe Israelis were most likely the ones who set up several so-called stingray scanners, which mimic cellphone towers to intercept nearby calls and text messages, that were discovered in downtown Washington in 2017.

A former official said such investigations are typically spearheaded by the FBI's counterintelligence division. More devices have been located in other parts of the country.

"There is a longstanding commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the US. This directive is strictly enforced without exception", it said.

The report, published on Thursday by Politico, said the mobile phone surveillance devices were likely meant to spy on US President Donald Trump, though it was not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

"The reaction. was very different than it would have been in the last administration", an official told Politico. "With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this". "I'm not aware of any accountability at all".

But Israeli officials quickly denied the report after it was published Thursday morning.

"We are operating on several fronts, 360 degrees, in order to ensure the security of Israel in the face of the attempts of Iran and its proxies to attack us, and we are working against them", the Israeli leader said upon his departure.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, September 30, 2016.

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz stated on Thursday that "Israel does not conduct any espionage operations in the US".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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