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Israel-U.S. Intelligence Relationship a One-Way Street, U.S. Denies Visas to Top Israeli Security Officials

nsa israel snowden

NSA comment on one-sidedness of intelligence relationship with Israel

Glenn Greenwald published an important document as part of the promotion for his new book.  It’s a Snowden-NSA leak that complains about the one-way nature of the intelligence relationship with Israel: we give, they take.

This isn’t entirely news, since an earlier, far more revealing Snowden-NSA document exposed an intelligence pact between the two countries that provided unredacted data dumps from the U.S. to Israel, which also likely included information on U.S. citizens, something which should be illegal.

I’ve asked Greenwald if he would review his materials to determine whether there is any independent confirmation of the existence of an NSA satellite data collection facility within an IDF signal intelligence base in occupied East Jerusalem.

This development, first reported (then censored) by Ronen Bergman on Israeli TV, was a story first broken here (outside Israel).  This is precisely the type of U.S. intelligence facility which would be providing Israel the data mentioned in these documents.  Greenwald pleaded being occupied with other matters, and never responded to my request.

Part of the fall-out from this imbalanced relationship, may inspire reports by Jeff Stein of disgruntled U.S. intelligence officials complaining about the outrageous espionage campaign waged by Israeli operatives in this country.  Perhaps in a related matter, U.S. diplomats are closing the spigot to high-level Israeli military-intelligence officials seeking visas to travel in the U.S.  It seems likely that this is a means of putting the squeeze on Israel to ease off its intrusive spying operation here, which the 2007 NIE labelled the third most intensive among all nations operating here.

Yediot reports today (Hebrew) that even former IDF and Shin Bet chiefs have been caught up in this net and had their visas either rejected or delayed.  The reporter, Ron Ben Yishai (the same one who dubiously claimed a Secret Service agent sitting in Al Gore’s bathroom in the King David Hotel saw an air conditioning technician and not a Shin Bet agent emerging from an air vent) claims that Shaul Mofaz, former chief of staff initially was rejected because he was born in Iran (though the decision was later reversed on appeal).  Frankly, I find this highly unlikely.  It may very well be Mofaz was refused, but claiming it was because of his birthplace seems a real stretch.

Ben Yishai says that Uzi Arad was also denied a visa.  The Israeli reporter, however, gets the facts clearly wrong when he claims Arad was suspected by the Americans of “conversations” with a Pentagon official who was never charged with wrongdoing.  In fact, Uzi Arad and Naor Gilon “ran” Larry Franklin and accepted secret documents from him which were passed along with the assistance of Aipac operative, Steve Rosen.  Franklin, contrary to Ben Yishai’s claim was charged with a crime and served prison time.  That might be a pretty damn good reason for him to be barred from the U.S., I’d say!

Ben Yishai also omits another complicating matter in Arad’s past, that he angered the Bush administration by revealing in an interview a secret U.S. report, which embarrassed the Americans.  That little fiasco got him fired as Israeli national security adviser.

Yediot also says that former Shin Bet head, Yuval Diskin, waited months for a U.S. visa.  Four IDF generals waited similarly long periods for their visas which were for a year’s duration, instead of the usual ten years.  The officers have high-level positions in the Israel defense industry and lead joint projects involving the Israeli and U.S. defense establishments.  The success of these projects hinges of their having ready access to this country.  The reporter says the officers requested anonymity so as not to anger U.S. Homeland Security officials or the State Department by appearing to complain about this “discriminatory policy” which, according to one of the individuals, “borders on gratuitous harassment.”  That general also claims that the purpose of the harassment is to deter them from applying for future visas.  He appealed for help from the foreign ministry, which attempted to intervene, without success.  He had to wait five months for a visa, and then only got one lasting a year.

Jeff Stein, in his Newsweek series on Israeli penetration of U.S. technology and security networks, notes that precisely these sorts of figures attempt to recruit U.S. scientists and government officials as sources for their espionage work, using trips to Israel that have been known to include offers of drugs and prostitutes.  So one wonders whether the IDF general is correctly characterizing the reason why the State Department may be delaying his visa.

Another senior foreign ministry holding a five year visa endured “degrading” full body public searches on his arrival and departure from the U.S.

Ben Yishai adds a final filip to his report by quoting a “reliable” defense ministry source who claims that the reason for the clampdown is the U.S. intelligence community’s “paranoia” that the Obama administration might be willing to free Jonathan Pollard in return for Israeli concessions in the Palestinian peace talks:

The background for this [the visa delays] is a combination of the “paranoia,” as he calls it, and the anti-Semitism of certain circles within the American homeland security and intelligence communities.  Former CIA chief, James Woolsey claimed there were anti-Semitic [government] groups opposed to his [Pollard’s] freedom.

The American embassy in Israel denied there is any policy of preventing or delaying the issuance of visas to Israelis involved in intelligence or security work.

What we have here is, to quote Cool Hand Luke, a “failure to communicate.”  We’re communicating (albeit in a discreet way) and the Israelis are refusing to listen.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Oui May 16, 2014, 5:26 AM

    I wasn’t aware of Sheldon Adelson’s direct involvement with NGOs for regime change, see a listing of who-Is-who, the participants invited for the – Democracy and Security Conference [pdf] – held in Prague in June 2007. Sponsored by Adelson’s Shalem Center in Jerusalem and Spain’s FAES, linked to Centre-Right party Partido Popular.

    Part of my article – Neocons Covert Action and Ukraine Watch.

    • Oui May 16, 2014, 5:39 AM

      List of participants includes Julia Tymoshenko, Bret Stephens (WSJ), Joe Wood (asst. to VP Cheney in White House), Walid Phares (Found. for the Defense of Democracies), Richard Perle, Josef Joffe (Die Zeit), Václav Havel, von Guttenberg (CSU Bundestag), Garri Kasparov, Eli Khoury (CEO Quantum Lebanon), John K. Glenn (German Marshall Fund of US), Farid Ghadry (Reform Party of Syria – USA), Uzi Arad (IPS Israel), Anne Bayefsky (Hudson Institute) etc. [List of biographies – pdf]

      There is a proces in place for right-wingers to infiltrate human rights organizations and leftist/progressive groups. Judge a group on its content, not on its name. Best example is Freedom House founded by Peter Ackerman. There can be a rapid change of members in just a few years. The USAID funded NGOs are well known, so a new set of cleansed NGOs for “Peace and Democracy” have come to the forefront.

      Report on “Rescuing Human Rights” Conference at UC San Diego
      Moderated by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal.

  • Oui May 16, 2014, 7:21 AM

    In The Village Voice publication in 1999 “A Most Unusual Collection Agency,” the following intelligence sites for Israel were listed:
    Herzliyya (Unit 8200 Headquarters) -5
    Mitzpe Ramon -7
    Mount Hermon, Golan Heights -7
    Mount Meiron, Golan Heights -7

    In the last decade of the WOT (Bush speak) a lot has been invested and the NSA and Unit 8200 formed a union. In a Le Monde publication (Sept. 2010) the Urim Sigint base was revealed by Nicky Hager – Israel’s omniscient ears.

    Unit 8200 and its counterparts – the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the American National Security Agency (NSA) – are less famous than their foreign intelligence and special operations agencies (MI6, the CIA and Mossad). Yet the signals agencies are far bigger.

    The Urim base targets many nations, friend and foe. A former analyst at Unit 8200, a military service conscript, said she worked full time translating intercepted calls and emails from English and French into Hebrew. It was “interesting” work, studying routine communications to find the nuggets. Her section listened mostly to “diplomatic traffic and other off-shore [international] signals”.

    See also a link to a video of the Urim site:
    Big Ears: ‘Largest’ secret spy hub uncovered in Israel – YouTube Video [Includes denial by Ronen Bergman]

  • But I don't even have a sister May 16, 2014, 9:45 AM

    There is an old Israeli joke about a smear campaign against a good man which alleged that the man’s sister was a whore.
    The problem for the victim of this smear campaign was how to prove that he did not have a sister.

  • The Rahnameh May 16, 2014, 3:17 PM

    It breaks all sort of Holy unwritten and undeclared Commandment to say something like, “there is an undue media control and influence by ardent right-wing Zionists in the United States such that the institution of journalism has passed its primacy from the 6 monopolistic media companies with the same bias to bloggers and others.”

    Yet, when one examines the clear writing on the wall: (1) Richard Silverstein, despite great scoop after great scoop, is not a well-known name because of (a) thievery of his work without credit and (b) outright censorship because he stands up for Palestinians at all and therefore doesn’t kowtow a Likud like Zionist ideology; (2) Greenwald dispenses of an important document like this and it is never mentioned or highlighted as a great concern; and, (3) because there is no political capital created by informing the citizenry of Israel’s duplicity, Israel’s outright criminal activities (foreign espionage and treason by entrenched assets beyond Pollard) are not prosecuted appropriately. Richard, it is highly illegal what the NSA is doing, especially in their conduct in conveying it to a third party and foreign country. If the government had a compelling interest for national security so as to overcome Constitutional concerns (and it didn’t, but let’s pretend), then it certainly failed to pass that scrutiny once it gave the data to a foreign country.

    So, what of the Stein articles? How did those get by? A plausible deniability strategy whereby the built up pressure is steamed away in little toots. Sure, articles like Stein’s appear, but no media echo chamber results like it would for pro-Zionist propaganda. Any syndication of the article ends up on the Huffington Post late Friday edition, at the end of the news cycle. The visibility of information is tied to its existence — news doesn’t matter if it’s not seen. That’s the strategy they apply to notables like Richard Silverstein.

  • Jackdaw May 16, 2014, 9:37 PM

    The Snowden ‘document expose’ will make Israel even less likely to share intelligence with the United States.

    • Richard Silverstein May 17, 2014, 1:26 AM

      @ Jackdaw: So you mean the 0% cooperation we get from Israel will go to…zero??! What a tragedy!

    • The Rahnameh May 17, 2014, 6:49 PM

      I think you’re under the impression that Israel’s provision of a yellow cake forgery document re: Iraq, a forged laptop in 2005 filled with fabricated nonsense, and promoted through the MEK Terror Organization’s other front, the NCRI, Netanyahu’s constant sabre rattling (“Iraq has centrifuges the size of washing machines” –> “Iran is hell-bent on nukes.”), or the Israeli infiltration, exploitation and monopolization of the government contractor system pre and post 9/11 are viewed as beneficial by the American Intelligence Community. …it’s a correct one and US INTCOM would like to return the favor. :)

      • Jackdaw May 17, 2014, 9:28 PM

        Wasn’t Ghorbanifar behind the yellow cake forgery? Where is the Israel connection? Proofs please.

        • Richard Silverstein May 18, 2014, 1:08 AM

          @ Jackdaw: And you think Ghorbanifar and Michael Ledeen (also involved) don’t have Mossad connections?

          • Jackdaw May 18, 2014, 1:53 AM

            I don’t know, and I’ve asked for proofs, especially that Israel provided ‘yellow cake forgery document’. Considering all that’s been written about the Second Iraq War, proofs should abound.

            Am I asking too much?

          • Richard Silverstein May 18, 2014, 2:11 AM

            @ Jackdaw: Do you know how to use Google? If so, then do so.

  • Jackdaw May 18, 2014, 11:08 AM

    I did search google and could not find a link between yellow cake forgeries, the Mossad or Israel.

    So what happened to Tikkun Olam’s comment rule #3, “support claims using credible sources and links; do NOT make unsupported claims.”

    • Richard Silverstein May 18, 2014, 2:29 PM

      @ Jackdaw: I don’t know whether you’re a simpleton or willfully obtuse. But you’ve forced me to waste my own time doing what you should’ve or couldn’t do. My Google search turned up multiple sources including a post from this blog. Here’s a random quotation:

      Back in 1984, Michael Ledeen put forward the idea of using Manucher Ghorbanifar to make illegal arms sales to Iran. The CIA’s Deputy Director for Operations, Clair George, deemed Ghorbanifar totally unreliable. He felt that Ghorbanifar, a MOSSAD double agent, had Israel’s security as his only priority.

      • Jackdaw May 18, 2014, 9:06 PM

        Former CIA Director George’s thirty year old suspicion in no way connects Israel to the the ‘yellow cake forgeries’.

        • Richard Silverstein May 18, 2014, 10:45 PM

          @ Jackdaw: Whether Clare George’s suspicion was one day old or 30 yrs old makes no difference. Indeed, I’ll accept the view of a deputy CIA director over yours any day of the week!

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