Harman Wiretap Highlights Suspicions
Intel Concerns of Dual Loyalty ‘Rooted Deep in the System’
By Nathan Guttman
Washington — Leaks of wiretap transcripts involving a member of Congress and a “suspected Israeli agent” have shone a rare light on the scope of suspicion the American intelligence establishment harbors toward Israel and its supporters.
Investigators wiretapping the alleged Israeli agent were so concerned about remarks by Democratic Rep. Jane Harman of California during his conversation with her that the investigators subsequently sought a so-called FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant — reserved for sensitive intelligence cases — to wiretap Harman, as well, according to a detailed story published April 19 by Congressional Quarterly. But then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales, the article claims, halted the investigation because he thought he would need Harman’s support in an upcoming clash over the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, about to be exposed by The New York Times.
According to the CQ story, Harman allegedly promised the Israeli agent to back off espionage-related charges against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Washington pro-Israel lobby. In exchange, her conversation partner is said to have promised he would lobby congressional leaders for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Harman has angrily denied that she made any such deal, and requested the administration to fully declassify the wiretapped conversations in question. Gonzales, meanwhile, has declined to comment so far.
But for close observers of the national security establishment, the real news was the extent of its suspicions of American Jewish supporters of Israel — up to and including its willingness to wiretap a member of Congress.
“It’s rooted deep in the system,” an official with an American Jewish organization said, “and it comes from the bottom up.”
The leaked transcripts hint, among other things, at the security establishment’s continued search for an Israeli mole that some reportedly believe remained uncaught after Jonathan Pollard, an American Jewish civilian naval intelligence analyst, was discovered engaged in massive espionage for Israel in 1985. More generally, the wiretap reflects the security establishment’s continuing concern about leaks of classified information to pro-Israel activists and Israeli agents who have shown themselves adept at obtaining nonpublic information from the government.
“We know that we are closely watched, that people might be listening to our phone calls. This is our working premise,” said a former senior Israeli official who was based in Washington in recent years. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said he believed that suspicion toward Israel was prevalent in the military and intelligence establishments but was not common at the political and diplomatic levels.
The disclosure of the Harman wiretaps comes at a time when the government’s most elaborate attempt to crack down on alleged wrongdoings by pro-Israel activists is at a crossroads. The prosecution of two former AIPAC lobbyists, which began more than four years ago and is scheduled to go to trial June 2, is under review and, according to press reports, might be dropped altogether. The conversations involving Harman focused on attempts to put an end to the legal proceedings against the two former AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.
Although no formal explanation was provided from the National Security Agency for eavesdropping on the Harman conversation, it is widely believed that the wiretap was part of the investigation into the AIPAC case.
According to court records, wiretaps and surveillance in the Rosen-Weissman case began as early as 1999. From the indictment, which is now being reviewed by the attorney general’s office, it is clear that attempts to stop the flow of information to pro-Israel activists led to a wide- ranging counterintelligence operation in which Israeli diplomats and pro-Israel lobbyists were being followed and their conversations monitored. These conversations involved senior government officials who had been in touch with the subjects of the investigation. The U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia reviewed transcripts of these wiretaps in lengthy pretrial proceedings, and parts of them are expected to be presented if the case reaches trial.
Stephen Green, a Vermont-based writer who has chronicled the counterintelligence spats between the United States and Israel since the late 1970s, said the mistrust toward Israel stems from agents working on the cases and not from an overall anti-Israel ideology. “This has nothing to do with politics or with Israeli foreign policy. These are people who deal with these issues on a daily basis and become very, very upset,” Green said.
Green, who, through the Freedom of Information Act, has obtained documents chronicling decades of security investigations of government officials suspected of leaking restricted information to Israel, was questioned by the FBI about his research during the investigation of the Rosen-Weissman case.
Suspicion toward pro-Israel Americans predates the Pollard espionage affair. In 1979, the FBI looked into allegations that Stephen Bryen, then a staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, passed on information to Israeli officials. The search for Israeli spies, which at times focused on the notion of an Israeli network led by a master spy code-named “Mega,” intensified after the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard.
The investigation, as it turned out, never ended, and as recently as April 2008 it resurfaced with the arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish, a former army engineer from New Jersey who passed on classified information to the same Israeli handler that was in charge of Pollard. Kadish, now 85, pleaded guilty last December as part of a plea agreement and is awaiting his May sentencing.
Echoes of the defense establishment’s concerns over American Jews’ loyalty to Israel were apparent, too, in a 1996 memo sent out by the Pentagon to defense contractors, warning them that Jewish employees with “strong ethnic ties” to Israel could be exploited by the Israelis to gather classified information. The memo was later retracted after Jewish groups protested its content.
The issue, however, is still being raised when discussing security clearance for American Jews who have ties with Israel. Arlington, Va.-based attorney Sheldon Cohen, who represents many cases of workers denied security clearances, has found a disproportionate presence of Jews among this group. The usual reason given is concern about their alleged ties with Israel.
Recently, Cohen authored an article dealing with a question posed to Jews applying for defense clearance: “Would you bear arms for the United States against Israel?” This hypothetical question is not presented, according to Cohen, to any other ethnic or religious group. “The one thing common to all the applicants to whom this question is put is their Jewish heritage,” he wrote.
Contact Nathan Guttman at email@example.com.
Quite aside from the wonderful irony of Jane Harman’s transformation from prominent Democratic defender of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping into a civil libertarian par excellence – which has been definitively celebrated by Glenn Greenwald over at Salon – the story of how this leading "national security Democrat" sold out her nation’s security on behalf of a foreign power underscores the all-pervasive and corrupting influence of Israel’s lobby in the U.S. Harman was caught on tape with a "suspected Israeli agent," according to Congressional Quarterly, agreeing to intervene with the U.S. Justice Department and the White House to get the espionage charges against two AIPAC employees reduced. In return, the Israeli agent promised AIPAC would put pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get Harman appointed head of the House intelligence committee. This pressure included having Haim Saban – whose largesse underwrites the Saban Center at Brookings, as well as a number of Democratic Party organizations – threatening to cut off the funding unless Pelosi caved.
AIPAC, of course, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the largest and most effective of the country-based Washington lobbies, generally rated up there with the NRA and AARP as one of the lobbying behemoths. Like many other commentators, I have often noted the distorting effect the Lobby has had on policymaking decisions and pointed out its deleterious effect on our national interests. However, Antiwar.com, and this columnist in particular, have gone where others have feared to tread, shining a spotlight on the dim area where lobbying activities overlap with espionage.
It should be noted that this was not a warrantless wiretap, of the sort Harman championed, but one approved by a special FISA court. Naturally, Harman issued a statement immediately denying the charges, averring that this "canard" is nothing new. It’s true that some of this story leaked out in 2006, but, as CQ reporter Jeff Stein put it in his piece, "What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington."
This is very similar to what happened to Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, the two AIPAC officials (since unceremoniously dumped by their employer), and their fellow conspirator, former Pentagon Iran desk chief Larry Franklin. There they were, Rosen and Weissman, sitting with Naor Gilon in a restaurant in Arlington, Va., shooting the breeze, when in walks Franklin with an offer to unload classified material. Was it just serendipitous that the FBI’s counterintelligence unit had the place bugged and was listening in as Franklin volunteered to engage in espionage on behalf of Israel?
Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli embassy, had been under surveillance at least since 2001, when, as Richard Sale reported, "the FBI discovered new, ‘massive’ Israeli spying operations in the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey," according to "one former senior U.S. government official." ( I reported on some of the activities of these operations in my short book, The Terror Enigma.)
"The FBI began intensive surveillance on certain Israeli diplomats and other suspects and was videotaping Naor Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, who was having lunch at a Washington hotel with two lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby group. Federal law enforcement officials said they were floored when Franklin came up to their table and sat down.”
Was a connection to Gilon Harman’s undoing? He pops up yet again amid widespread speculation that the former diplomat and undoubted intelligence officer was the "Israeli agent" on the line with Harman.
Gilon, by the way, has just been appointed to a top position in Avigdor Lieberman’s foreign ministry. As Richard Silverstein points out, the awkwardness this inserts into U.S.-Israeli relations may be quite deliberate:
"In Israel, if you successfully spy on the U.S. you’re rewarded with plum assignments and cabinet jobs. I’m fairly certain that this is also Lieberman’s way of tweaking Obama, saying, ‘you think you’re going to isolate me? I’ll show you. I’ll make my right hand man someone who has made a fool out of your government.’"
With the appointment of Uzi Arad, another Israeli spook involved in the Rosen-Weissman case, to a top spot on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security staff, we can count this as a doubly insulting provocation.
Stein cites "a recently retired longtime national security official who was closely involved in the AIPAC investigation" as saying: "It’s the deepest kind of corruption, which was years in the making. It’s a story about the corruption of government — not legal corruption necessarily, but ethical corruption."
This ethical corruption is what allowed Harman to believe she could bulldoze her way into a House committee chair by playing the AIPAC card. The same corruption led her, a canny politician, to assume that Naor Gilon, rather than any American, had the decisive say when it came to committee appointments in the Congress of the United States. Isn’t that taking the "special relationship" just a little too far?
What’s apparent, in any case, is that the counterintelligence community has long taken an interest in the widening scope and increasing scale of Israel’s covert operations in the US, even if our mainstream media has shied away from the subject. They’ve been watching this crowd 24/7 for years, as is apparent from the indictment of Rosen, Weissman, and Franklin, which details acts that go back to 1999. That’s how they got Franklin and finally caught up with Ben Ami Kadish, who shared an Israeli handler with the infamous Jonathan Pollard. Kadish was picked up the day after his Israeli handler called [.pdf] him to tell him to lie: another NSA intercept approved by a FISA court, another Israeli spy snared. Which just goes to show that Jane Harman, AIPAC, and the IngSoc faction of the GOP were wrong: we don’t need warrantless wiretapping – the legal kind works fine.
This story has legs, if only because it illustrates a prime example of Bush-era corruption. Alberto Gonzales reportedly scotched the investigation into Harman – which was widely and erroneously reported as having found nothing – because he needed her help on the warrantless wiretaps issue. Did she make a deal with him, or was the quid pro quo implicit? It’s a sad day when we have to wiretap our own government officials to dig out the truth and protect our own security, but better them than the rest of us. They, after all, are the source of the corruption: indeed, it might not be a bad idea to allow warrantless wiretaps only of government officials, both elected and appointed. Now that would put a real crimp in the culture of corruption.
The Harman corruption-of-justice case illuminates a subject that has long been simmering on the back burner, hardly ever covered by the mainstream news media, and that is the upcoming trial of the AIPAC defendants, which is so underreported that I can’t even find a reference to the trial date, except that it is "upcoming" and scheduled to occur sometime in June. On trial are Steve Rosen, longtime spark plug behind AIPAC’s successful – some would say too successful – lobbying strategy, and Keith Weissman, AIPAC’s top Iran specialist. It is a trial that has had so many cancellations that a timeline of them all would take up a good part of this column. Suffice to say that the AIPAC defendants have put up quite a fight, delaying the trial for years, demanding that the government allow the introduction of classified material into the court record, and compelling high-profile figures such as Condi Rice and Steve Hadley to appear as witnesses. A sympathetic judge has granted them a good deal of leeway, and they have just about graymailed government prosecutors into a corner.
Will the case be dropped before it ever comes to trial? The clock is ticking, and we’ll soon know the answer to that question. (As I put this column to bed, the Washington Post reports prosecutors may very well drop the case.) As relations between the U.S. and Israel continue to sour, however, the Rosen-Weissman affair is a fairly accurate barometer of the rising mutual hostility between Washington and Tel Aviv. Israel’s new right-wing government is preparing for a showdown with the Obama administration over the Palestinian question, the Iranian issue, and the ongoing expansion of the settlements. If Obama is seeking a deal, there is widespread speculation that he could use the Iran issue as a bargaining chip: promising to take a harder line toward Tehran in exchange for a semblance of Israeli reasonableness on Palestinian statehood. The Rosen-Weissman trial could well be another such bargaining chip: a tradeoff that will make us less secure while advancing the career of an ambitious politician – a politician, in that sense, not unlike Rep. Harman.
What’s significant about the Harman case is that all the elements that have given the Israel Lobby such power in Washington – political heft, lots of money, and the exception-making requirements of the "special relationship" – have come together in a kind of Harmanic convergence, if you will, to illustrate why and how the Lobby’s influence is corrupting.
The sooner the public gets this message, the sooner our lawmakers will respond. And the proper response, to start with, is to make AIPAC do what every foreign lobbyist has to do, and that is comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act by registering as an agent of a foreign power. This would put legal restrictions in place that would cut the Lobby down to its proper size and help correct the Israel-centric distortion of American foreign policy, which has been so skewed in the wrong direction for so long chiefly because of domestic political pressures. It’s long past time to cut off that pressure at its source.
23 April, 2009
The Jane Harman case is confusing to newcomers. The most important question that arises is why now? Why four years after the phone call? It is the most important question because it speaks to the fact that the central fight here, between the Israel lobby and the critics of the Israel lobby, is a fight that has been going on for more than 60 years in the underground of the Washington establishment. It never dies because it involves principled conflicts that are never resolved. They are never resolved because the press and our politicians can’t deal with these questions due to Harman-style orthodoxy/corruption, and the battle is suppressed. Though now and then it breaks the surface.
The specific reason the story is coming out now is that my side, the critics of the Israel lobby, are about to lose a battle: it looks like the case against Steven Rosen and Ken Weissman, the Israel lobbyists charged with sharing secrets with the Israelis five years ago, a case postponed forever, is going to get dropped by the Justice Department. The lawyers who believe in that case are surely upset about this and have managed to leak one of the big truffles of their investigation to the press so as to goose the public outrage over the central issue at stake: corruption of policymaking due to the Israel interest. I don’t know that they’re the source. But that’s my supposition.
We may lose this fight, but we are winning the larger battle. Remember that We lost the Chas Freeman fight, the nomination of an Arabist/realist to the National Intelligence Council, but we won that one too because he freely exposed the Israel-first gang that had gone after him. Suddenly the Israel lobby was on the front pages. It’s on them again, a month later, with the Times coverage of Harman. This is unprecedented. At last the Israel lobby, which people denied as a fact of our political life when Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer had the Emperor’s-new-clothes temerity to say it existed three years ago, is being openly mentioned. Andrea Mitchell said frankly on MSNBC the other day that it is a well-known and powerful lobby.
We are winning in this overall struggle because the central question, the justice of U.S. foreign policy to the Palestinians, has never been discussed and is never going away. It demands to be discussed. The Forward has a smart but slightly panicky piece today saying that the Harman case reflects a longheld belief in the federal government, among the professionals, that Jews have dual loyalty to Israel, going back almost to the foundation of the state. This is true. At least since the Truman overruled his State Department when it wanted to try and reverse partition in the spring of 1948, because bloody riots and ethnic cleansing had begun in Palestine, which partition was supposed to end, the lobby has won through White House access of the sort Harman allegedly boasted of in the wiretapped call; and those who are critical of a Jewish state or its policies have been excluded and smeared, as antisemites. The Forward piece carried that implication tday. The issue has never gone away and many presidents have bitched about it. Kennedy was upset abut Jewish influence-peddling on the matter even as Israel was acquiring nuclear weapons in defiance of his policy (Sy Hersh reported in the Samson Option). Nixon bridled at the lobbying. Jimmy Carter threw himself against the Israel lobby and didn’t get reelected. George Bush I also took on the Israel lobby, the evil settlements policy that has now all but destroyed the two-state solution, and didn’t get a second term. Bill Clinton and George Bush II embraced the expansion and the lobby, and had two terms. Chuck Percy and Paul Findlay sacrificed their political futures over trying to get the issue discussed.
The tragedy of our politics is that Barack Obama ran last year in some large measure against the neoconservative policy on the Middle East and the issue was never openly debated. Obama toed the line--and secretly believed that Palestinians are suffering the most. The neocons wanted to have that fight, and so did I. We both thought we would win if we could have it out; or they thought that McCain had a better chance of winning. But that question was ruled out of the presidential campaign, a time when people would get a chance to choose over the issue--just as Al Franken and Norm Coleman refused to differ on the question in the midst of their battle--and now the unresolved struggle has been imported into the Obama administraiotn. He knows that resolving the issue is essential to the American interest in the Middle East, and to peace. It’s the core issues, As King Abdullah and every other leader has told him. But because we could not have it out last year, a silent struggle is now taking place inside his administration, as Bruce wolman has put it, between the realists and the Israel-firsters. Obama can throw a signal to one side and the other, but he can’t take a firm stand against the Israel firsters without political cover. A few critical congressmen, Brian Baird and Kucinich and Donna Edwards, aren’t going to give him that political cover. He needs his progressive base to take a stand on the question and openly, and allow the influential elites to divide on the issue on talk shows and at dinner parties. He can’t drive the wedge without a sledgehammer-- public opinion, the press.
I'm optimistic because the Harman case came up three years ago, in Time Magazine, and died, and now it has come up again and gotten legs. It could not have become such a big story without political ground, created by the horrors of Gaza, and the Netanyahu/Lieberman election, and before that by the horrors of Iraq. Americans know that our Middle East policy is skewed toward permanent war, one that Rahm Emanuel and Jane Hamran supported. Progressive Democrats are beginning to rally around the issue at last.
What the Harman leak suggests is that the establishment press and the disgruntled Israel critics within government have found each other at last. The story took 4 years, or 60 years to get out, but it is out, and there is a suggestion in the coverage that the intelligence of the American political process may at last be brought to bear on this question—instead of the intelligence of the back room dealers. When that happens, expect fairness.
22 April 2009
Press can't say it, but a blogger can (Jane Harman's Jewish)
The front-page story in the Times yesterday on the Jane Harman allegations didn't say that she's Jewish. Neither does CQ, which broke the story. Chris Matthews didn't say she's Jewish in his report last night--though he's always talking about the Irish Catholics--and neither did Robert Siegel on NPR. I bet Andrea Mitchell didn't either.
Jane Harman's Jewish. There, I just said it. That's why we have the blogosphere. Any intelligent person discussing this story at dinner is going to mention that she's Jewish. That's because Alan Dershowitz said that supporting Israel is the "secular religion" of American Jews. And because Walt and Mearsheimer point out that Jewish-Americans play a prominent part in the Israel lobby.
There are plenty of American Jews who don't support Israel. Some anyway. But they don't get into Congress for some reason. And they very rarely get published in the Forward. I can't think of a time, actually. The orthodoxy within the Jewish community is just as Dershowitz reported. We [heart] Israel.
Can you imagine if a leading evangelical politician was allegedly mixed up in a shady deal involving pressuring the White House on gay rights, and the papers didn't mention his religion? I can't. Do you think it's possible to talk about the power of the Israel lobby, which is what the Harman leak is about, at bottom, without talking about religion in American life? And without Jewish reporters talking about the religious orthodoxy they're familiar with? No. Heck, Wolf Blitzer, who did this story on CNN yesterday (and I bet left out the religious angle), used to work at AIPAC. Does Judaism/Israel matter to him? Oh and how many Jews are in Congress and the media? Just because you talk about this doesn't make you Ahmadinejad.
Thanks to James North for the idea. He says that the late David Halberstam used to say that one problem with journalism is that it causes a writer to act stupid, to leave out stuff he knows to be true. And this is why, North says, people are turning to the blogosphere: they want to know what smart people really think.
Jane Harman, Haim Saban, and AIPAC: The Disloyalty Issue in Multicultural America
By Kevin MacDonald
Disloyalty is an age-old issue with Jews, and for a simple reason: Jews often have interests as Jews that stretch beyond national boundaries. Even before the existence of Israel, Diaspora Jews often could be said to have a “foreign policy” in the sense that there was a general consensus among Jews to favor some nations and disfavor others.
For example, the Spanish Inquisition targeted Jews who pretended to be Christians, with the result that Jews in other countries sought Spain’s downfall. From 1881 until the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia was seen as an enemy of Jews. As a result, the organized Jewish community in other countries often opposed Russian interests. Jacob Schiff, the preeminent Jewish activist of the period, financed the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, and he financed revolutionaries in Russia.
At times, Jewish foreign policy interests were in conflict with those of the wider society. In 1908 Schiff also led the successful effort to abrogate the Russian Trade Agreement which was opposed by the Taft Administration as not in the interests of the United States. Schiff’s motive for helping Jews in Russia conflicted with US national interests as understood by the US government. (more…)
Steve Rosen Accuses AIPAC of Espionage Steven J. Rosen’s defamation lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is now entering a critical phase. A series of cross-filings stakes out the critical court terrain. Rosen intends to show that obtaining and leveraging classified U.S. government information in the service of Israel is common practice at AIPAC. He claims it was unfair for AIPAC to fire and malign him in the press after he was indicted on espionage charges in 2005. AIPAC’s defense team is committed to getting the case thrown out on technicalities before it goes to trial early next year.
The House Ethics Committee reportedly subpoenaed law enforcement agencies for intercepted communications between U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and a suspected "Israeli agent"
Jane Harman Scandal: Some Might Call It TreasonJewish Congresswoman Colludes With AIPACJewish Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, wife of Jewish former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, interviews Jewish Rep. Harman on her involvement with the Jewish lobby, and an alleged Jewish spy
Wiretap scandal of leading Democrat 'who lobbied for Israeli spies'
Sources: U.S. may drop AIPAC spy case
'US may drop AIPAC classified leak case'
Former lobbyists allegedly shared classified info on US policy with reporters and former diplomats.
What Israeli lobby?: Prosecutors Considering Dropping Espionage Charges Against Former AIPAC Lobbyists
|U.S. Congresswoman denies interceding in Israel spy case |
Jane Harman allegedly overheard agreeing to seek favorable treatment for investigated AIPAC lobbyists.
Secrets nucléaires vendus à Israel par les criminels habituels
The Samson Gambit: Why Steve Rosen is Suing AIPAC
Adding Insult to Injury–Powerful Jewish Groups Demand Case Against Accused Spies Be Dropped
Cheney furieux que Bush n'ait pas pardonné "Scooter" Libby
Espion américain pour Israel arrêté après 23 ans
Libby inculpé site à une plainte à MSNBC
La sécurité nucléaire au coeur du scandale d'espionnage à l'AIPAC
At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. The FBI investigation, headed up by Dave Szady, has involved wiretaps, undercover surveillance and photography that CBS News was told document the passing of classified information from the mole, to the men at AIPAC, and on to the Israelis.
CBS sources say that last year the suspected spy, described as a trusted analyst at the Pentagon, turned over a presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran while it was, "in the draft phase when U.S. policy-makers were still debating the policy." This put the Israelis, according to one source, "inside the decision-making loop" so they could "try to influence the outcome." [CBS News]
Once again Israel denies wrongdoing, or faced with incontrovertible evidence (in this case one of the spies has reportedly cooperated with the FBI) dismisses the spying with the claim that such spying is harmless, because Israel and the United States are such good friends.
Well, let us take a closer look at that idea of "harmless espionage" by recalling Israel's most famous failed spy, Jonathan Pollard.
Jonathan Pollard is an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston Texas, who established a career as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy. There have been many theories offered as to why Pollard decided to betray his country of birth to the Jewish state, but that Pollard did betray his country of birth to Israel is beyond all doubt. Pollard's defense was that he did not spy so much against the United States, only that he spied for Israel, sending them documents that in his opinion the US should have shared with Israel anyway.
That it was never Pollards job to decide what documents Israel should have was apparently irrelevant. Pollard arrogated that authority to himself. From his position of trust within the US Navy, Pollard delivered over 1000 classified documents to Israel for which he was well paid. Included in those documents were the names of over 150 US agents in the Mideast, who were eventually "turned" into agents for Israel.
But by far the most egregious damage done by Pollard was to steal classified documents relating to the US Nuclear Deterrent relative to the USSR and send them to Israel. According to sources in the US State Department, Israel then turned around and traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas from the USSR to Israel. Other information that found its way from the US to Israel to the USSR resulted in the loss of American agents operating inside the USSR. Casper Weinberger, in his affidavit opposing a reduced sentence for Pollard, described the damage done to the United States thus, "[It is] difficult to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by... Pollard's treasonous behavior."
This should end the suggestion that Israel's spies are harmless. They are not. The United States' nuclear deterrent cost an estimated five trillion taxpayer dollars during the 50s and 60s to build and maintain, and less than $100,000 for Pollard to undermine. Israel waited 13 years to admit Pollard had been spying for them, and now lobbies for his release, having granted him Israeli citizenship.
Pollard is hardly the only Israeli spy operating in the United States. He just had the misfortune to get caught. Here are just a few examples of the Israeli spy operations that have been detected.
1947 Information collected by the ADL in its spy operations on US citizens is used by the House Select Committee on Unamerican Activities. Subcommittee Chair Clare Hoffman dismisses the ADL's reports on suspected communists as "hearsay."
1950 John Davitt, former chief of the Justice Department's internal security section notes that the Israeli intelligence service is the second most active in the United States after the Soviets.
1954 A hidden microphone planted by the Israelis is discovered in the Office of the US Ambassador in Tel Aviv.
1956 Telephone taps are found connected to two telephones in the residence of the US military attaché in Tel Aviv.
1954 "The Lavon Affair". Israeli agents recruit Egyptian citizens of Jewish descent to bomb Western targets in Egypt, and plant evidence to frame Arabs, in an apparent attempt to upset US-Egyptian relations. Israeli defense minister Pinchas Lavon is eventually removed from office, though many think real responsibility lay with David Ben-Gurion.
1965 Israel apparently illegally obtains enriched uranium from NUMEC Corporation. (Washington Post, 6/5/86, Charles R. Babcock, "US an Intelligence Target of the Israelis, Officials Say.")
1967 Israel attacks the USS Liberty, an intelligence gathering vessel flying a US flag, killing 34 crew members. See Assault on the Liberty, by James M. Ennes, Jr. (Random House). In 2004, Captain Ward Boston, Senior Legal Counsel for the Navy's Court of Inquiry into the attack swears under oath that President Lyndon Johnson ordered the investigation to conclude accident, even though the evidence indicates the attack was deliberate. Given the use by Israel of unmarked boats and planes, and the machine-gunning of USS Liberty's lifeboats, the most likely explanation is that USS Liberty was to be sunk with all hands, with evidence left to frame Egypt for the sinking. This would have dragged the US into the war on Israel's side.
1970 While working for Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Richard Perle is caught by the FBI giving classified information to Israel. Nothing is done.
1978, Stephen Bryen, then a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, is overheard in a DC hotel offering confidential documents to top Israeli military officials. Bryen obtains a lawyer, Nathan Lewin, and the case heads for the grand jury, but is mysteriously dropped. Bryen later goes to work for Richard Perle.
1979 Shin Beth [the Israeli internal security agency] tries to penetrate the US Consulate General in Jerusalem through a "Honey Trap", using a clerical employee who was having an affair with a Jerusalem girl.
1985 The New York Times reports the FBI is aware of at least a dozen incidents in which American officials transferred classified information to the Israelis, quoting [former Assistant Director of the F.B.I.] Mr. [Raymond] Wannal. The Justice Department does not prosecute.
1985 Richard Smyth, the owner of MILCO, is indicted on charges of smuggling nuclear timing devices to Israel (Washington Post, 10/31/86).
1987 April 24 Wall Street Journal headline: "Role of Israel in Iran-Contra Scandal Won't be Explored in Detail by Panels"
1992 The Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli agents apparently tried to steal Recon Optical Inc's top-secret airborne spy-camera system.
1992 Stephen Bryen, caught offering confidential documents to Israel in 1978, is serving on board of the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs while continuing as a paid consultant -- with security clearance -- on exports of sensitive US technology.
1992 The Samson Option, by Seymour M. Hersh reports, "Illicitly obtained intelligence was flying so voluminously from LAKAM into Israeli intelligence that a special code name, JUMBO, was added to the security markings already on the documents. There were strict orders, Ari Ben-Menashe recalled: "Anything marked JUMBO was not supposed to be discussed with your American counterparts."
1993 The ADL is caught operating a massive spying operation on critics of Israel, Arab-Americans, the San Francisco Labor Council, ILWU Local 10, Oakland Educational Association, NAACP, Irish Northern Aid, International Indian Treaty Council, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco police. Data collected was sent to Israel and in some cases to South Africa. Pressure from Jewish organizations forces the city to drop the criminal case, but the ADL settles a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed sum of cash.
1995 The Defense Investigative Service circulates a memo warning US military contractors that "Israel aggressively collects [US] military and industrial technology." The report stated that Israel obtains information using "ethnic targeting, financial aggrandizement, and identification and exploitation of individual frailties" of US citizens.
1996 A General Accounting Office report "Defense Industrial Security: Weaknesses in US Security Arrangements With Foreign-Owned Defense Contractors" found that according to intelligence sources "Country A" (identified by intelligence sources as Israel, Washington Times, 2/22/96) "conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally." The Jerusalem Post (8/30/96) quoted the report, "Classified military information and sensitive military technologies are high-priority targets for the intelligence agencies of this country." The report described "An espionage operation run by the intelligence organization responsible for collecting scientific and technologic information for [Israel] paid a US government employee to obtain US classified military intelligence documents." The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Shawn L. Twing, April 1996) noted that this was "a reference to the 1985 arrest of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US naval intelligence analyst who provided Israel's LAKAM [Office of Special Tasks] espionage agency an estimated 800,000 pages of classified US intelligence information."
The GAO report also noted that "Several citizens of [Israel] were caught in the United States stealing sensitive technology used in manufacturing artillery gun tubes."
1996 An Office of Naval Intelligence document, Worldwide Challenges to Naval Strike Warfare reported that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." Jane's Defense Weekly (2/28/96) noted that "until now, the intelligence community has not openly confirmed the transfer of US technology [via Israel] to China." The report noted that this "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation." (Flight International, 3/13/96)
1997 An Army mechanical engineer, David A. Tenenbaum, "inadvertently" gives classified military information on missile systems and armored vehicles to Israeli officials (New York Times, 2/20/97).
1997 The Washington Post reports US intelligence has intercepted a conversation in which two Israeli officials had discussed the possibility of getting a confidential letter that then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written to Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. One of the Israelis, identified only as "Dov", had commented that they may get the letter from "Mega", the code name for Israel's top agent inside the United States.
1997 US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, complains privately to the Israeli government about heavy-handed surveillance by Israeli intelligence agents.
1997 Israeli agents place a tap on Monica Lewinsky's phone at the Watergate and record phone sex sessions between her and President Bill Clinton. The Ken Starr report confirms that Clinton warned Lewinsky their conversations were being taped and ended the affair. At the same time, the FBI's hunt for "Mega" is called off.
2001 It is discovered that US drug agents' communications have been penetrated. Suspicion falls on two companies, AMDOCS and Comverse Infosys, both owned by Israelis. AMDOCS generates billing data for most US phone companies and is able to provide detailed logs of who is talking to whom. Comverse Infosys builds the tapping equipment used by law enforcement to eavesdrop on all American telephone calls, but suspicion forms that Comverse, which gets half of its research and development budget from the Israeli government, has built a back door into the system that is being exploited by Israeli intelligence and that the information gleaned on US drug interdiction efforts is finding its way to drug smugglers. The investigation by the FBI leads to the exposure of the largest foreign spy ring ever uncovered inside the United States, operated by Israel. Half of the suspected spies have been arrested when 9-11 happens. On 9-11, 5 Israelis are arrested for dancing and cheering while the World Trade Towers collapse. Supposedly employed by Urban Moving Systems, the Israelis are caught with multiple passports and a lot of cash. Two of them are later revealed to be Mossad. As witness reports track the activity of the Israelis, it emerges that they were seen at Liberty Park at the time of the first impact, suggesting a foreknowledge of what was to come. The Israelis are interrogated, and then eventually sent back to Israel. The owner of the moving company used as a cover by the Mossad agents abandons his business and flees to Israel. The United States Government then classifies all of the evidence related to the Israeli agents and their connections to 9-11. All of this is reported to the public via a four part story on Fox News by Carl Cameron. Pressure from Jewish groups, primarily AIPAC, forces Fox News to remove the story from their website. Two hours prior to the 9-11 attacks, Odigo, an Israeli company with offices just a few blocks from the World Trade Towers, receives an advance warning via the internet. The manager of the New York Office provides the FBI with the IP address of the sender of the message, but the FBI does not follow up.
2001 The FBI is investigating 5 Israeli moving companies as possible fronts for Israeli intelligence.
2001 JDL's Irv Rubin arrested for planning to bomb a US Congressman. He dies before he can be brought to trial.
2002 The DEA issues a report that Israeli spies, posing as art students, have been trying to penetrate US Government offices.
2002 Police near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in southern Washington State stop a suspicious truck and detain two Israelis, one of whom is illegally in the United States. The two men were driving at high speed in a Ryder rental truck, which they claimed had been used to "deliver furniture." The next day, police discovered traces of TNT and RDX military-grade plastic explosives inside the passenger cabin and on the steering wheel of the vehicle. The FBI then announces that the tests that showed explosives were "false positived" by cigarette smoke, a claim test experts say is ridiculous. Based on an alibi provided by a woman, the case is closed and the Israelis are handed over to INS to be sent back to Israel. One week later, the woman who provided the alibi vanishes.
2003 The Police Chief of Cloudcroft stops a truck speeding through a school zone. The drivers turn out to be Israelis with expired passports. Claiming to be movers, the truck contains junk furniture and several boxes. The Israelis are handed over to immigration. The contents of the boxers are not revealed to the public.
2003 Israel deploys assassination squads into other countries, including the United States. The US Government does not protest.
2004 Police near the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Tennessee stop a truck after a three mile chase, during which the driver throws a bottle containing a strange liquid from the cab. The drivers turn out to be Israelis using fake Ids. The FBI refuses to investigate and the Israelis are released.
2004 Two Israelis try to enter Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, home to eight Trident submarines. The truck tests positive for explosives.
This brings us to the present scandal. Two years into an investigation of AIPAC's possible role as a spy front for Israel, Larry Franklin, a mid-level Pentagon Analyst is observed by the FBI giving classified information to two officials of AIPAC suspected of being Israeli spies. AIPAC hires lawyer Nathan Lewin to handle their legal defense, the same lawyer who defended suspected Israeli spy Stephen Bryen in 1978.
Larry Franklin worked in the Pentagon Office of Special Plans, run by Richard Perle, at the time Perle (who was caught giving classified information to Israel back in 1970) was insisting that Iraq was crawling with weapons of mass destruction requiring the United States to invade and conquer Iraq. There were no WMDs, of course, and Perle has dumped the blame for the "bad intelligence" on George Tenet. But what is known is that the Pentagon Office of Special Plans was coordinating with a similar group in Israel, in Ariel Sharon's office.
With two suspected Israeli spies (at least) inside the office from which the lies that launched the war in Iraq originated, it appears that the people of the United States are the victims of a deadly hoax, a hoax that started a war.
The leaking of the investigation of AIPAC to the media on August 28th, 2004 gave advance warning to other spies working with Franklin. The damage to the FBI's investigation was completed when United States Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the FBI to stop all arrests in the case. Like the Stephen Bryen case and the hunt for "Mega", this latest spy scandal seems destined to be buried by officials who have their own secret allegiances to protect, barring a massive public outcry.
The organization at the heart of the latest spy investigation, AIPAC, wields tremendous influence over the US Congress. Through its members and affiliated PACs, AIPAC directs a huge flow of campaign cash in favor of, and occasionally against, Senators and Representatives solely on the basis of their willingness to support Israel. As an example, in 2002, U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Birmingham received so much help from pro-Israeli pacs that 76% of his campaign budget came from OUTSIDE the state of Alabama, mostly from New York.
Let me repeat that. A Congressman AIPAC wanted elected received more money from pro-Israel groups outside his state than from his own constituents inside his state. Who is that Congressman going to be thinking of when he votes in Congress?
So here is the mother of all scandals.
For two years, the FBI has suspected AIPAC of spying for a foreign country, and for those two years (and for decades before) that group suspected of spying for Israel has been reshaping the US Congress for the benefit of a foreign government.
And THAT is the mother of all scandals.
Think about that as billions of your tax dollars flow to Israel while your roads and schools crumble and decay and services are cut.
Think about that as the coffins come home with your loved ones inside.
Think about that when you and a million of your fellow citizens march down the streets of America opposing wars built on lies and deceptions and wonder why the government just doesn't want to listen to you any more.