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Both Israel and Russia Shared Kerry’s Intercepted Phone Calls

kerry's phone calls intercepted

John Kerry’s phone conversations were intercepted by Russia and Israel through his use of unencrypted satellite phones aboard his plane. (Landov)

Yesterday’s report, originating in Der Spiegel that Israel intercepted the telecommunications of Secretary of State John Kerry when he was in flight to the Middle East has just become a much bigger story.  The reporter noted that there were two countries who eavesdropped on Kerry.  But he didn’t say which country it was.

My highly-placed Israeli source tells me that the identity of that country is Russia.  At first glance this may appear odd since Israel and Russia maintain a hostile stance about so many issues, especially Syria.  Israel, in fact, has tried to destroy Russian Yakhont surface to sea anti-ship missiles which Putin shipped to Assad.  Israel is also suspected in the past of assassinating Russian generals who were key liaisons to Syria.

israeli russian flags

A close relationship? IDF military transport on Highway 6 bearing Israeli flag and Russian presidential standard. (Noam R)

But on the other hand Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a native of Moldova, has cultivated especially close relations with Russia.  In fact, it’s commonly believed among intelligence circles that he is a Russian agent.  But in this particular case, such closeness paid off for both countries.  Israel provides Russia with transcripts of the Kerry calls it intercepts when his plane is within tracking distance.  And Russia does the same when Kerry’s calls are intercepted by its agents.

Spiegel implicitly affirmed this with this passage from its report:

“It is probable that the Russians and Chinese were also listening in.”

This story is extraordinary for several reasons: hitherto we only knew of Israel sharing intelligence with a limited number of countries including the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.  A collaboration with Russia in which one of the U.S.’ closest allies teams up with one of this country’s most disliked international leaders is astonishing.  It further reveals that Israel has no ultimate loyalty of allegiance except to itself as narrowly and cynically conceived by its leadership.

While Kerry’s position on the Israel-Palestine peace talks was Israel’s number one priority, Russia’s number one priority was to learn the U.S. plans and position regarding the Ukrainian separatist movement and Russia’s involvement with it.  My source had this to say:

…It’s a “fruitful ongoing joint venture” initiated by Lieberman thanks to his Moscow connections. Israel provides Russia with recordings of intercepted calls Kerry makes flying over the Middle East, and Russia provides Israel with recordings of calls he makes flying over Central Asia, the Far East & the Pacific Ocean.

The source notes this “joint venture” became extremely important for Moscow since last February – because of the Ukrainian crisis.

In this way, the spying collaboration has been fruitful for both sides.

It also reveals a huge, gaping hole in U.S. telecommunications security.  How is it that calls made on Kerry’s plane couldn’t be encrypted or protected in some way.  How could our security experts allow such interception to occur?

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • nessim dayan August 3, 2014, 4:40 PM

    I feel betrayed, never thought that this “shining light” in a sea of darkness wind up being worse in darkness.
    Now our Peace and Democracy loving knesset members have decided enough is enough, not only enough to shut the New York time, but let’s throw a voice that rub them the wrong way into jail or better lets hang him for treason. his crime. decry the depth of depravity that the Israel Air Farce have descended to to avenge anything that does not sit well with them. A journalist who dares say that they “flyers” have only mission to destroy indiscriminately whatever is in their paths. children, right or wrong, mothers, people whomever. Our sole mission racist knesset having “erased” all those terrorists living amongst us who are neither jew nor patriots by inference. now having shut any NGO that rubs them the wrong way, now lets put Mr. Gideon Levy front a wall and let those israel air force democracy protetors test some of the new advanced bullets on him.
    To have a whole Cabinet meeting directed at a SINGLE JOURNALIST IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR, shows to what extent these same cabinet members consider this neither a war nor a clean up, it is only a badly needed killing exercise for the MOST MORAL ARMY IN THE WORLD – THE ISRAEL “DEFENSE” FORCE –
    please stop the world i want to get off – is there a distance between this and someone voicing the most dearest dream of a great part of israel jews to bring a genocide onto the palestinians. ethnic cleansing as it should be done. we had good teachers, we learned their systems it’s only a matter of a few hundred shekels to get this cleaned up once and for all
    there is nothing moral left here, please don’t waste your breath you will probably succeed faster in libya or somalia, may god bless

  • PersianAdvocate August 3, 2014, 6:11 PM

    Wow, so anyone in our government and on US soil who supports Israel is also helping Putin, a man accused by senior US officials like McCain and Feinstein for downing MH-17??? I can’t believe this!!! The Dutch should be alerted at once to Israel’s complicity!

    McCain et. al. are totally up Israel’s butt! Your source just made a huge link! Incredible scoop, Richard!

    • Yonatan August 4, 2014, 1:55 AM

      Evidence from the surviving debris clearly indicates MH-17 was shot down by either canon fire or shrapnel from an air to air missile. This was done by an unidentified Ukrainian military aircraft detected on Russian radar and observed by Ukrainian air traffic control. Ukraine has confiscated the records of voice traffic with MH17. The US wont release its satellite data. Cui bono?

  • Dr Brian Robinson August 4, 2014, 1:44 AM

    Yeah, but suppose Kerry et al knew that everything they say is going to be spied on, suppose they deliberately don’t encrypt, or use only an encryption that they already know the Israelis and Russians know how to break, then why couldn’t this be a sort of Macchiavellian ‘backdoor’ way of furthering diplomacy? Then, when it comes to the official negotiations, they can recognise when the other side is using ‘secret’ information that they’re not supposed to have, but which the USA wants them to have. Kerry then plays the pre-planned card. Or have I been reading too much John le Carré? Probably.

  • Fred Plester August 4, 2014, 2:34 AM

    There was a lot of propaganda at the time of the Ukrainian revolution, to the effect that Jews wee going to be killed in the streets if the pro Moscow regime fell. So far, no such thing has happened.

    So it’s possible that Israel and Russia have shared agendas over Ukraine for quite some time.

    It continues to amaze me that the US shares top secret military technology with Israel when Israel is in bed with Russia and China.

    • Oui August 4, 2014, 5:31 AM

      Are you referring to mid-April, Amb. Geoffrey Pyatt‘s sham anti-semitic leaflet distributed in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine?

      • Fred Plester August 4, 2014, 6:24 AM

        This is interesting.
        The UK’s £8bn of weapons export licences to Israel, all now under review, is “mainly” cryptographic software.



      • Fred Plester August 4, 2014, 6:28 AM

        No, I was thinking of stuff that came out in Kiev during the uprising there. Did seem very crude propaganda though.

        There was a sort of barrage of stuff to imply that anyone in favour of Ukraine taking a pro western stance was a fascist, or outright nazi. By implication therefore, the whole EU must be Nazi…
        Then the pro Moscow president did a runner, apparently taking a billion quid’s worth of loot with him.

  • Pretty damning if true August 4, 2014, 5:05 AM

    It’s not so much that Israel spies on the US government. Indeed, it is an open secret that the USA considers Israel to be the third most aggressive country in terms of foreign spying on US soil.

    But it’s one thing to say that Israel spies on the USA, and it is quite another to discover that Israel is actually working in a partnership with Russia in that regard.

    After all, what about all that raw intel that the USA gives to Israel? What guarantees do the Americans have that all that information isn’t also finding its way to Russian intelligence?

  • shachalnur August 4, 2014, 5:21 AM

    if you wouldn’t ban people like me ,I could explain you why Israel and Russia are collaborating.

    they’ve been doing so for at least 2 years,and that includes Israel’s allleged activities in Syria.

    there is a logic behind this you don’t seem to grab.

    stop listening only to yourself.

  • beowulf888 (@beowulf888) August 4, 2014, 10:23 AM

    “How is it that calls made on Kerry’s plane couldn’t be encrypted or protected in some way. How could our security experts allow such interception to occur?”

    I rather doubt that Kerry was communicating over un-encrypted channels. Israel has a great deal of crypto expertise (a lot of Internet security companies are founded and staffed by former Israeli military). Likewise, Israel has a long history of spying on the US. My hypothesis would be that, either Israel figured out how to derive the keys to decrypt Kerry’s communications, or someone (i.e. a spy) within the the US security apparat gave the Israelis the keys to Kerry’s crypto.

  • Fred Plester August 4, 2014, 11:02 AM

    The other thing to consider is that without a Ukraine crisis, Israel probably wouldn’t have had such a free hand in Gaza, because the US would have been better able to keep its eye on the ball and more willing to risk a confrontation with Israel. So feeding Russian intelligence may have been useful.

    There’s a downside to masterly manipulation of this kind, and that is that manipulators end up not being trusted under any circumstances at all. Israel runs several risks here, not just with countries being disgusted with Israel’s conduct, but in the future those countries will tend to assume that Israel is in the wrong and lying when perhaps it isn’t.

  • FranzLiebkind August 4, 2014, 12:56 PM

    “How is it that calls made on Kerry’s plane couldn’t be encrypted or protected in some way. How could our security experts allow such interception to occur?”
    Either the messages were sent in plaintext (unlikely), the ciphers were shared officially (at least this wouldn’t surprise me, given the one-way nature of the relationship), were decrypted by Israeli signals intelligence (should be a near mathematical impossibility) or Mossad and Unit 8200 have compromised NSA, State, etc.
    Maybe Vegas can tell you the odds.

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