FRIENDS IN HIGH
ISRAELI SPY NEST - ASHCROFT SAYS: 'DON'T
By: Justin Raimondo
Post is confirming the analysis, posted
here two days ago, that Israel's spy nest in the Pentagon
involves a lot more than neocon
Franklin leaking the text of a draft presidential
directive on Iran to AIPAC employees, who then passed it on to
"For more than two years, the FBI has been
investigating whether classified intelligence has been passed
to Israel by the American Israel Political Action Committee,
an influential U.S. lobbying group, in a probe that extends
beyond the case of Pentagon employee Lawrence A. Franklin,
according to senior U.S. officials and other sources.
The counterintelligence probe, which is different from a
criminal investigation, focuses on a possible transfer of
intelligence more extensive than whether Franklin passed on a
draft presidential directive on U.S. policy toward Iran, the
sources said. The FBI is examining whether highly classified
material from the National Security Agency, which conducts
electronic intercepts of communications, were also forwarded
to Israel, they said."
The National Security Agency is
and ears of the U.S. government: it's the source of all that
"chatter" we hear talked about as an indication of the terrorists'
plans to attack targets both here and abroad. The NSA monitors
communications of all kinds, collects, collates, and translates raw
data, then feeds it to intelligence professionals. It is, in short,
link in the security chain that keeps us safe – to the extent
that we are safe. The news that it has been penetrated and
compromised by a foreign power should be ringing alarm bells
throughout the U.S. government, but instead the investigation is
being blocked – by Attorney General John Ashcroft. As the New
York Sun reports:
"According to sources familiar with the investigation, the
U.S. district attorney in charge of the probe, Paul McNulty, has
ordered the FBI not to move forward with arrests that they were
prepared to make last Friday when the story broke on CNN and CBS.
'He put the brakes on it in order to look at it,' a source familiar
with the investigation told the Sun. 'To see what was there.
Basically the FBI wanted to start making arrests and McNulty said
'Woa, based on what? Let's look at this before you do anything.'"
The Los Angeles Times, in a remarkably disingenuous
editorial – one that bears all the hallmarks of newly-appointed
editorial page editor Michael Kinsley's brand of know-it-all
dogmatism – wants "the evidence, please." Let them ask McNulty, a
who was in charge of the Justice Department transition
team. When the story broke, according to the Sun,
Ashcroft immediately put McNulty on the case. The man comes with
a bad record when it comes to going after spies, such a Robert P.
Hanssen, who was spared the death penalty due to the decision of
the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. When it
comes to rounding up paintball-playing Muslims,
McNulty is very
gung-ho: but not, apparently, when he's dealing with Israeli
spies in the Pentagon.
When McNulty went after the Paintball Conspirators, FBI official
Michael E. Rolince openly admitted that
the government had no real evidence that the "jihadists" were
involved in a plot against the United States: they were instead
convicted of violating the rarely-invoked Neutrality Act. Rolince
justified the prosecutions based on the Bushian principle of
"It is just no longer sound judgment to have people that you
believe have engaged in illegal activity and let them conduct an
attack before you do something about it. A lot of this is about
Yes, but not when it comes to Israel, which seems to enjoy some
special immunity not granted to others: preemption doesn't apply in
this case. But why not?
The author of the Times editorial, which focuses
exclusively on Franklin, hasn't been paying attention. Warren
Strobel's Knight-Ridder piece the other day made the same point
as this more recent report in the Washington Post, which
"The investigation of Franklin is coincidental to the broader
FBI counterintelligence probe, which was already long underway when
Franklin came to the attention of investigators, U.S. Officials and
If the authorities were watching AIPAC, and just happened to
stumble on Franklin's clumsy efforts to pass documents to Israeli
officials, the rest can be inferred: This is big, much
bigger than Franklin, if it required a systematic and ongoing
surveillance of AIPAC and Israeli government agents.
AIPAC and its allies, Israel's amen corner in the U.S., are circling
the wagons, denying everything, and – how's this for
chutzpah? – Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League is
actually demanding an investigation into who leaked the news of the
investigation. No one has a right to know that Israel, the recipient
tillion total U.S. "aid," is stabbing us in the back.
Who, us – spy on the United States, our "closest ally"? It
never happens, the Israelis and their American defenders aver. But
the two AIPAC employees who were first identified in the Israeli
media as being the principal suspects, Steven
Rosen and Keith Weissman, are sure acting guilty as hell.
According to news reports:
"They were interviewed by the FBI on Friday – the same day
news first broke of the existence of the yearlong investigation –
but the interviews were halted after the men said they wanted a
lawyer present before answering further questions, [AIPAC attorney
Nathan] Lewin said."
With the unbridled arrogance that is the hallmark of Israel's
American lobby, Lewin had the gall to add: "The FBI could resume the
interview. We have not heard from the FBI."
And he's hoping that he won't be hearing from them any further,
as John Ashcroft – a "born-again" Christian fundamentalist who
believes that the triumph of Israel will bring
on the Second Coming of Christ – quietly strangles the
But if Rosen and Weissman have nothing to hide, and are
completely innocent of charges that they acted as a conduit for
sensitive intelligence to be forwarded to Israel, then why do they
need lawyers to talk to the FBI? They are the ones making a
federal case out of this: too bad McNulty isn't doing the same.
The irony here is that any attempt to cover up Israel's spy nest
in the U.S. – a network not necessarily limited to AIPAC – is bound
to create the sort of anti-Semitism that Israel's defenders claim to
abhor. Their answer is that to even raise the charge of espionage
against AIPAC is anti-Semitic, in and of itself.
Facts may be stubborn things, but America's
Likudniks are even more so. It doesn't matter how much evidence
is amassed against AIPAC, Rosen, Weissman, et al., because, in their
view, it's all a Vast Anti-Semitic Conspiracy. The New
Republic blog, commenting on the reaction to the spy scandal
among pro-Israel Republican activists at the GOP national
"A combination of media criticism and conspiracy-theorizing
(which I say with the proviso that not all conspiracy theories are
necessarily wrong). David Frum made the most explicit form of the
argument at an American Jewish Committee panel this morning: The CBS
story breaking the news led with allegations of espionage, but as
you read further, you realized the entire story hung on a source
that wasn't even a current government official. … Frum also argued
that the FBI investigation of Larry Franklin, the accused Pentagon
employee, had been ongoing for months and months and was on the
verge of fizzling out when news of the investigation leaked. The
timing, according to this view, suggests that the people driving the
investigation leaked word of it as a final act of desperation, and
that they were hoping to create problems for the Bush administration
on the eve of the Republican National Convention."
But this story has multiple sources: Frum's complaint about the
CBS report was outdated before he even uttered it. And so what if
Lesley Stahl's source wasn't a "current official": to neocon
"journalists" like Frum, officialdom is a fount of received wisdom,
and the Holy Grail of truth is to be found in a government press
release. These are the same people who complain that the real
news, the "good news" from Iraq, is never reported, due to the
"antiwar bias" of the news media.
But what's especially striking, and disturbing, about Frum's
apologia is that he shows no interest, not even the slightest
curiosity, in the facts, since none are mentioned in TNR's
summary of his remarks. He claims to know that the investigation –
which has been going on for over two years – was "on the verge of
fizzling out," but no source is given for this information, which
runs counter to the mainstream reporting that this was, as Laura Rozen put it, a
"controlled burn." Investigators were caught flat-footed by the CBS
report, and were forced to move quickly to interview suspects – and
there is speculation that the Israeli contacts they were most
interested in apprehending were alerted to the danger, and took the
opportunity to flee the country.
What is especially galling is the tone of outraged indignation
that AIPAC's defenders have affected in confronting the charges. CAMERA,
the vehemently pro-Israel "media watchdog" that carps whenever
anyone looks at Ariel Sharon cross-eyed, has the nerve to argue
that, since the U.S. spies on Israel, they have the right to spy on
us. A patriotic American might reply: Hey, I paid
for that microphone. But, whatever….
The attitude is: how dare you even question us?! But if
law enforcement doesn't question them, and instead lets a
significant hole in our security stay wide open, who knows who or
what else may crawl through? Who knows what other moles may have
burrowed into the depths of America's national security apparatus,
mining our deepest secrets? If Rosen and Weissman, and their
cohorts, will stop obstructing the investigation, and simply agree
to answer questions, with or without legal counsel, they will
quickly dispel the suspicion – rampant, at present – that they have
something to hide. After all, this administration wasn't too
concerned about providing legal counsel to the thousands of Arabs
rounded up since 9/11 – why are a couple of Israeli spies any
If the 'A' in AIPAC stood for Arab, the assets, headquarters, and
very existence of the organization would have been impounded and key
personnel shipped off to Guantanamo, where the latest Gitmo-ized
interrogation techniques would soon persuade them to talk.
Lawyers? Hey, buddy, there's someone I want you to meet: Ahmed,
this is Lynndie
The Bush administration has known about this investigation – of
which the Franklin affair is just a footnote – for over two years,
according to the
latest from Reuters. Yet, addressing AIPAC in May, President
Bush called the group "a great asset to our country."
But if AIPAC is involved in the theft of U.S. government secrets,
how is it an "asset" to any country other than Israel?
The burgeoning spy scandal, which went from the theft of a draft
presidential directive to the appropriation of sensitive NSA
intercepts, is fast taking on the complexity and multi-layered
levels of meaning of a tale by John LeCarre, one that is all
too realistic. On
one level, it is the story of how a group of Israel Firsters
infiltrated the highest levels of policymaking and – utilizing a
talent for the well-told lie and a
penchant for forgery – steered us down the road to war with
Strobel reports that it isn't just Franklin and his foibles
coming under scrutiny:
"The bureau appears to be looking into other controversies
that have roiled the Bush administration, some of which also touch
[deputy defense secretary for policy Douglas] Feith's office. They
include how the Iraqi National Congress, a former exile group backed
by the Pentagon, allegedly received highly classified U.S.
intelligence on Iran; the leaking of the name of CIA officer Valerie
Plame to reporters; and the production of bogus documents suggesting
that Iraq tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons from the African
country of Niger. Bush repeated the Niger claim in making the case
for war against Iraq."
"'The whole ball of wax' was how one U.S. official privy to
the briefings described the inquiry."
On another level, it is a pure spy story about the penetration
and subversion of what is arguably the single most valuable asset in
America's anti-terrorist arsenal: the NSA, which gathers together
the raw materials from which accurate intelligence is derived. This,
by the way, is not the first time the NSA's security has been
questioned: the story of Sibel
Edmonds, a former NSA translator, which I've covered
in several columns,
involves the existence of a mysterious unidentified organization –
which the FBI was watching – that tried to recruit her into
not translating certain intercepts. Edmonds was fired for
blowing the whistle on these shenanigans, and then muzzled by
Ashcroft, who declared that she couldn't say anything to the public
about what she knew due to reasons of overriding "national
security." A judge backed up Ashcroft's gag order, but you can read her
interview with Antiwar.com – and 60 Minutes, here
– and decide for yourself if something fishy is or isn't going on.
Where there's this much smoke, there has to be some real fire.
Why is the Justice Department "putting the brakes" on an
investigation involving the most sensitive intelligence matters?
Ashcroft wasn't hesitant when he went after these
other guys, nor were his prosecutors when it came to
withholding evidence, a practice that eventually got their
out. Why is he treating the AIPAC cabal with kid gloves? What
I'll tell you what gives. A large body of
evidence suggests this counterintelligence investigation goes
back before 9/11, when U.S. government agencies first began to take
notice of Israelis turning up at U.S. government offices, and at
government agents' homes, in the guise of "art
students" trying to sell or promote their "work." In
Salon, an article
by Christopher Ketcham suggested that this was an attempt by the
Israelis to blow smoke, and divert attention away from something
else. And now, it appears, the
"art students" are back….
It's just not possible to fully understand what exactly is going
on here without reference to my book, The
Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, which shows
that the U.S. government's concern with Israeli spies reached a
spike of apprehension in the months prior to the worst
terrorist attack in our history. A two year old investigation? Try
four, or more.
One final note: The attempt to spin this as a political attack on
George W. Bush, emanating from the Democrats, is hogwash, pure and
simple. If Kerry says a word about this, I'll throw away my Nader
button (the one with Badnarik
on the back) and surrender myself to the narcotic effects of Kerry's
Kerry's best answer to the "Swift Boat" ads is a few spots on
"Spies in the Pentagon." Giving Zell Miller tit for tat may lose him
Florida, but gain him the Midwest, the South, and several key border
states in the bargain. I can hear some of the dialogue now:
"There are spies in the Pentagon – and they have friends in
It won't happen, of course. If Kerry says anything at all, it's
likely to be a defense of AIPAC. He would much rather bypass
this golden opportunity to draw Republican blood on the national
security issue than offend a vociferous – and hypersensitive –
special interest group. That's one reason why – in spite of a
wilting "recovery" and an increasingly unpopular war – he's in
danger of losing big.
Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director of
is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
Justin Raimondo may be contacted at mailto:email@example.com
Published in the September 3, 2004 issue of Ether
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