We’re gonna have some fun with this one tonight! Jeff Stein, Newsweek’s intelligence reporter has filed two great stories using inside U.S. intelligence, Homeland Security and Congressional aide sources to portray the massive Israeli spy presence in the U.S. The second report was published yesterday and it was a real eye-opener. Perhaps the most jaw-dropping revelation was that during a visit to Israel, then-VP Al Gore was ‘bunking’ at the King David Hotel.
The Secret Service did their usual security sweep of the room and were satisfied all was in order. Everyone left except one agent who had to relieve himself. He entered the bathroom and settled in. The room became quite quiet. All of a sudden the agent heard scrapping inside the ventilation duct. A few minutes later he saw the cover of the duct being moved and a person begin to emerge. Doing some quick thinking and realizing he was in a vulnerable position so to speak, the agent thought better of hollering or summoning his colleagues. Instead, he cleared his throat and the man quickly retreated.
Though this is the most astonishing of the stories told in the report, the rest of the information is equally disturbing and should be read. Here is a comment from a former U.S. intelligence official about lectures he used to give Israeli personnel in Washington about spying on our soil:
“You can’t embarrass an Israeli,” he said. “It’s just impossible to embarrass them. You catch them red-handed, and they shrug and say, ‘Okay now, anything else?’” Always lurking, former intelligence officials say, was the powerful “Israeli lobby,” the network of Israel’s friends in Congress, industry and successive administrations, Republican and Democratic, ready to protest any perceived slight on the part of U.S. security officials.
The official went on to say that when he gave security briefings to U.S. officials and business leaders headed to Israel and warned them of the serious security threats they might face, he was hauled on the carpet:
“We had to be very careful how we warned American officials,” he said. “We regularly got calls from members of Congress outraged by security warnings about going to Israel. And they had our budget. When … the director of the CIA gets a call from an outraged congressman–’What are these security briefings you’re giving? What are these high-level threat warnings about travel to Tel Aviv you’re giving? This is outrageous’ – he has to pay close attention.
In other words, the Lobby and the Israeli government were angry that U.S. intelligence officials were alerting Americans about the vulnerabilities they should be aware of in their interactions with Israelis. If no one is warned of such threats then these American visitors would, of course, be more likely to be compromised. Among those who were targeted:
Israeli agents “go after senior U.S. Navy officers on shore leave in Haifa, after space industry officials, or scientists with intellectual property, anywhere. This has always been a huge concern for the community.”
Here are some of the techniques they allegedly used:
“Their goal,” he continued, “is to get contacts to come out of the U.S. and over there and then wine them, dine them, assess them, see what their weaknesses are. I mean, we had government officials going over there who were offered drugs, like, ‘Hey, do you want to go get some pot?’ What? These are U.S. government officials. The drugs, women coming to your hotel room – they throw everything at you. No matter how high the official.”
Official Israeli reaction to Stein’s first report was swift and furious. An unnamed foreign ministry source accused Stein of “anti-Semitism” because he had the temerity to say (which he didn’t) that Israel is an enemy of the U.S. The response to the latest report has been even more vociferous. This time, Israel did something relatively unheard of: it allowed a former top IDF spook, Amos Yadlin, to be interviewed on air saying Stein was “delusional:”
Former Israeli Military Intelligence head, Major General (ret.) Amos Yadlin, said Saturday evening that the allegation is “delusional.”
“Newsweek is relying on anonymous testimony with historic stories from the War of Independence,” he told Channel 2. The story about an agent hiding in an air duct sounds like it was taken from “50 years ago,” he said. “Anyone familiar with today’s intelligence aganecies knows that they do not work like that.”
Yadlin stated categorically that Israel has not been spying on the United States since the Pollard affair and he added that he spoke with former Mossad chief Meir Dagan before the interview, and that Dagan corroborated this.
He added that he has friends who are senior officials in the US intelligence establishment and that he expects them to either come out publicly and deny the allegations, or alternatively, prove that they are true.
It’s laughable to claim that Israel wouldn’t have tried to plant a bug in Al Gore’s hotel room over a decade ago during the Clinton administration. Of course there is other technology available that is more sophisticated, but not that can be used on a moment’s notice with little prep time (you don’t find out which hotel room a vice president is staying in with a whole lot of lead time).
Further, having two of Israel’s top spooks swear on a stack of Bibles that these things never happened is not exactly convincing. As for those “friends” who Yadlin is calling on to speak up in Israel’s defense, we’ll probably see the usual suspects line up with full-throated support of the Blue and White. But the real intelligence officials most affected by Israeli espionage in this country won’t be among them.
Another breed of Israeli denial comes in the form of an article (Hebrew) by Yediot’s security reporter, Ron Ben Yishai. His report too makes for fun reading. The most bizarre claim in his report is that the man coming out of the ventilation duct was none other than a King David Hotel air conditioning tech who was making sure the room was suitably comfortable for such an august guest!
Ben Yishai calls Stein’s reporting “somewhere between laughable and embarrassing” when it’s the Israeli reporters work that fits that description–in spades. Further, the Israeli says that this series of articles doesn’t prove anything about Israeli intelligence efforts, but rather points to the weaknesses and failures of U.S. intelligence (presumably in not doing a better job of preventing John McClane from getting into Gore’s room)!
One of the stranger claims in Ben Yishai’s account is this:
The second report in the series embarrasses the author and his sources even more than the first…It proves a fact known to anyone who ever worked in Washington and was in contact with the administration–American reporting on facts and events that relate to foreigners are often distorted or erroneous.
Really!? Who’d a thunk it? Stein goes on to give several reasons why U.S. intelligence might “have it in” for Israel. One of them is a real peach straight from the hasbara farm:
The judgement of U.S. intelligence in 2005 was that Iran had suspended its race for a [nuclear] bomb. Israeli intelligence claimed that this was a serious error which drew howls of outrage. Only years later those who wrote the [U.S.] reports were forced to acknowledge they had erred.
This is ‘journalism’ Israel-style. Take one fact, mix it with hasbara, and stir. Et voila, you have a new claim that bears no relation to truth or reality. It is true Israel’s assessment differed from the U.S. But Israel’s judgment has been proven wrong, or at least totally unproven. While the U.S. assessment has never been disproven or renounced. Where does the claim that the U.S. has deferred to Israel’s views on this come from? Totally fabricated either by Ben Yishai or whoever his source was.
He makes another similarly egregious claim that a senior IDF Aman officer told the Americans that Assad used chemical weapons and that the U.S. disbelieved him and was proven wrong. In fact, Seymour Hersh showed that the U.S. believed that Assad used the weapons, and that we were likely wrong. Again, journalism made up out of whole cloth.