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.