Is Israel spying on the US? Yeah, probably. That's what nations do. But did the US catch Israel spying? It sure looks it, according to a new report in Politico. It seems that spying devices known informally as StingRays were found near the White House and at other sensitive sites around DC. The story quotes three former senior US officials who say an FBI investigation pointed the finger directly at Israel. StingRays are described in the story as miniature surveillance devices that "trick" cellphones by acting like cell towers, enabling them to capture the contents of calls. One of the officials says President Trump himself was a likely target, though it's unclear whether the spy mission was successful before being uncovered at some point over the last two years.
"It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible," says a former senior intelligence official, though Israel is adamantly denying it. "Absolute nonsense," says Israeli Embassy spokesman Elad Strohmayer. "Israel doesn't conduct espionage operations in the United States, period." The BBC notes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also is denying the report as a "blatant lie," adding that "there is a long-standing commitment, and a directive from the Israeli government not to engage in any intelligence operations in the US." The Politico piece has more details on the evidence, and it notes that the US hasn't reprimanded Israel over the apparent spying, even privately, as it normally would do when it suspects foreign snooping. (Read more Israel stories.)