Findley, Paul. They Dare to Speak Out. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill Books. 1989.


Chapter 5: Penetrating the Defenses at Defense – and State

Page 139-164


The Pentagon, that enormous, sprawling building on the banks of the Potomac, houses most of the Department of Defense’s central headquarters.  It is the top command for the forces and measures which provide Americans with security in a troubled world.  Across the Potomac is the Department of States, a massive eight-story building on Washington’s Foggy Bottom, the nerve center of our nation’s worldwide diplomatic network.  These buildings are channels through which flow each day thousands of messages dealing with the nation’s top secrets.  No one can enter either building without special identification or advance clearance.  Armed guards seem to be everywhere, and in late 1983 concrete emplacements were added and heavy trucks strategically parked to provide extra buffers if a fanatic should launch an attack.  These building are fortresses where the nation’s most precious secrets are carefully guarded by the most advanced technology.

            But how secure are the secrets?

            “The leaks to Israel are fantastic.  If I have something I want the secretary of state to know but don’t want Israel to know, I must wait till I have a chance to see him personally.”

            This declaration comes from an ambassador still on active duty in a top assignment, reviewing his long career in numerous posts in the Middle East.  Although hardly a household name in the United States, his is one of America’s best-known abroad.  Interviewed in the State Department, he speaks deliberately, choosing his words carefully.

            “It is a fact of life that everyone in authority is reluctant to put anything on paper that concerns Israel if it is to be withheld from Israel’s knowledge,” says the veteran.  “Nor do such people even feel free to speak in a crowded room of such things.”

            The diplomat offers an example from his own experience.  “I received a call from a friend of mine in the Jewish community who wanted to warn me, as a friend, that all details of a lengthy document on Middle East policy that I had just dispatched overseas were ‘out.’”  The document was classified “top secret,” the diplomat recalls.  “I didn’t believe what he said, so my friend read me every word of it over the phone.”

            His comments will upset pro-Israel activists, many of whom contend that both the States Department and Defense Departments are dominated by anti-Israeli “Arabists.”  Such domination, if it ever existed, occurs no longer.  In the view of my diplomat source, leaks to pro-Israeli activists are not only pervasive throughout the two departments but “are intimidating and very harmful to our national interest.”  He says that because of “the ever-present Xerox machine” diplomats proceed on the assumption that even messages they send by the most secure means will be copied and passed on to eager hands.  “We just don’t dare put sensitive items on paper.”  A factor making the pervasive insecurity even greater is the knowledge that leaks of secrets to Israel, even when noticed – which is rare – are never investigated.

            Whatever intelligence the Israelis want, whether political or technical, they obtain promptly and without cost at the source.  Officials who normally would work vigilantly to protect our national interest by identifying leaks and bringing charges against the offenders are demoralized.  In fact, they are disinclined even to question to Israel’s tactics for fear this activity will cause the Israeli lobby to mark them as trouble-makers and take measures to nullify their efforts, or even harm their careers.

            The lobby’s intelligence network, having numerous volunteer “friendlies” to tap, reaches all parts of the executive branch where matters concerning Israel are handled.  Awareness of this seepage keeps officials – whatever rung of the ladder they occupy – from making or even proposing decisions that are in the U.S. interest.

            If, for example, an official should state opposition to an Israeli request during a private interdepartmental meeting – or worse still, put it in an intraoffice memorandum – he or she must assume that this information will soon reach the Israeli embassy, either directly or through AIPAC.  Soon after, the official should expect to be mentioned by name critically when the Israeli ambassador visits the secretary of state or other prominent U.S. official.

            The penetration is all the more remarkable because much of it is carried out by U.S. citizens in behalf of a foreign government.  The practical effect is to give Israel its own network of sources through which it is able to learn almost anything it wishes about decisions or resources of the U.S. government.  When making procurement demands, Israel can display better knowledge of Defense Department inventories than the Pentagon itself.


Israel Finds the Ammunition – in Hawaii!


            In its 1973 Yom Kippur war against Egypt and Syria, Israel sustained heavy losses in weapons of all kinds, especially tanks.  It looked to the United States for the quickest possible resupply.  Henry Kissinger was their avenue.  Richard Nixon was entangled in the Watergate controversy and soon to leave the presidency, but under his authority the government agreed to deliver substantial quantities of tanks to Israel.

            Tanks were to be taken from the inventory of U.S. military units on active duty, reserve units, even straight off production lines.  Nothing was held back in an effort to bring Israeli forces back to the desired strength as quickly as possible.

            Israel wanted only the latest-model tanks equipped with 90 millimeter guns.  But a sufficient number could not be found even by stripping U.S. forces.  The Pentagon met the problem by filling part of the order with an earlier model fitted with 90-millimeter guns. When these arrived, the Israelis grumbled about having to take “second-hand junk.”  Then they discovered they had no ammunition of the right size and sent an urgent appeal for a supply of 90 –millimeter rounds.

            The Pentagon made a search and found none.  Thomas Pianka, an officer then serving at the Pentagon with the International Security Agency, recalls: “We made an honest effort to find the ammunition.  We checked everywhere.  We checked through all the services – Army, Navy, Marines.  We couldn’t find any 90-milimeter ammunition at all.”  Pianka says the Pentagon sent Israel the bad news: “In so many words, we said: “Sorry, we don’t have any of the ammunition you need.  We’ve combed all depots and warehouses, and we simply have none.”

            A few days later the Israelis came back with a surprising message:  “Yes, you do.  There are 15,000 rounds in the Marine Corps supply depot in Hawaii.” Pianka recalls, “We looked in Hawaii and, sure enough, there they were.  The Israelis had found a U.S. supply of 90-millimeter ammunition we couldn’t find ourselves.”

            Richard Helms, director of the CIA during the 1967 Arab-Israel war, recalls an occasion when an Israeli arms request h ad been filled with the wrong items.  Israeli officials resubmitted the request had been filled with the wrong items.  Israeli officials resubmitted the request complete with all the supposedly top-secret code numbers and a note to Helms that said the Pentagon perhaps had not understood exactly which items were needed.  “It was a way for them to show me that they knew exactly what they wanted,” Helms says.  Helms believed that during this period no important secret was kept from Israel.

            Not only are the Israelis adept at getting the information they want – they are masters at the weapons procurement game.  Les Janka, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense who is a specialist in Middle East policy, recalls Israel persistence:


They would not take no for an answer.  They never gave up.  These emissaries of a foreign government always had a shopping list of wanted military items, some of them high technology that no other nation possessed, some of it secret devices that gave the United States an edge over any adversary.  Such items were not for sale, not even to the nations with whom we make our closest, most formal military alliance – like those linked to us through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


            Yet Janka learned that military sales to Israel were not bound by the guidelines and limitations which govern U.S. arms supply policy elsewhere.  He says, “Sales to Israel were different.  Very different.” 

            Janka has vivid memories of a military liaison officer from the Israeli embassy who called at the Defense Department and requested approval to purchase a military item which was on the prohibited list because of its highly secret advanced technology: “He came to me, and I gave him the official Pentagon reply.  I said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but the answer is no.  we will not release that technology.’”

            The Israeli officer took pains to observe the bureaucratic courtesies and not antagonize lower officials who might devise ways to block the sale.  He said, “Thank you very much, if that’s your official position.  We understand that you are not in a position to do what we want done.  Please don’t feel bad, but we’re going over your head.”  And that of course meant he was going to Janka’s superiors in the office of the secretary of defense, or perhaps even to the White House.

            Asked if he could remember an instance in which Israel failed to get what it wanted from the Pentagon, Janka pauses to reflect, then answers, “No, not in the long run.”

            Janka has high respect for the efficiency of Israeli procurement officers:


You have to understand that the Israelis operate in the Pentagon very professionally, and in an omnipresent way.  They have enough of their people who understand our system well, and they have made friends at all levels, from top to bottom.  They just interact with the system in a constant, continuous way that keeps the pressure on.


            The Carter White House tried to establish a policy of restraint.  Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s assistant for national security, remembers in an interview Defense Secretary Harold Brown’s efforts to hold the line on technology transfer.  “He was very tough with Israel on its requests for weapons and weapons system.  He often turned them down.”  But that was not the final words.  For example, Brzezinski cites as the most notable example Brown’s refusal to sell Israel the controversial antipersonnel weapon known as the cluster bomb.  Despite twice against populated areas in Lebanon, causing death and injury to civilians.  Brown responded by refusing to sell the deadly replacements.  But even on that request, Israel eventually prevailed.  President Reagan reversed the Carter administration policy, and cluster bombs were returned to the approval list. 

            Others who have occupied high positions in the executive branch were willing to speak candidly, but, unlike Janka, they did so with the understanding that their names would not be published.  As one explains, “My career is not over.  At least, I don’t want it to be.  Quoting me be name would bring it to an end.”  With the promise of anonymity, he and others gave details on the astounding process through which the Israeli lobby is able to penetrate the defenses at the Defense Department – and elsewhere.

            Sometimes the act is simple theft.  One official says, “Israelis were caught in the Pentagon with unauthorized documents, sometimes scooping up the contents of ‘in boxes’ on desk tops.”  He recalls that because of such activity a number of Israeli officials were told to leave the country.  No formal charges of espionage have even been filed, and Israel covered each such exit with an excuse such as family illness or some other personal reason:  “Our government never made a public issue of it.”  He adds, “There is a much higher level of espionage by Israel against our government than has ever been publicly admitted.”

            The official recalls one day receiving a list of military equipment Israel wanted to purchase.  Noting that “the Pentagon is Israel’s stop-and-shop,’” he took it for granted that the Israelis had obtained clearances.  So he followed usual procedure by circulating it to various Pentagon offices for routine review and evaluation:


One office instantly returned the list to me with a note: ‘One of these items is so highly classified you have no right to know it even exists.’  I was instructed to destroy all copies of the request and all references to the particular code numbers.  I didn’t know what it was.  It was some kind of electronic jamming equipment, top secret.  Somehow the Israelis know about it and acquired its precise specifications, cost and top secret code number.  This meant they had penetrated our research and development labs, our most sensitive facilities.


            Despite that somber revelation, no official effort was launched to discover who had revealed the sensitive information. 




“They Always Get What They Want”


            Israel’s agents are close students of the U.S. system and work it to their advantage.  Besides obtaining secret information by clandestine operations they apply open pressure on executive branch offices thoroughly and effectively.  A weapons expert explains their technique:


If promised an answer on a weapon request in 30 days, they show up on the 31st day and announce: ‘We made this request.  It hasn’t been approved.  Why not?  We’ve waited 30 days.’  With most foreign governments, you can finesse a problem.  You can leave it in the box on the desk.  With Israel, you can’t leave anything in the box.


            He says the embassy knows exactly when things are scheduled for action:


It stays on top of things as does no other embassy in town.  They know your agenda, what was on your schedule yesterday, and what’s on it today and tomorrow.  They know what you have been doing and saying.  They know the law and regulation backwards and forwards.  They know when the deadlines are. 


            He admires the resourcefulness of the Israelis in applying pressure:


They may leak to Israeli newspapers details of their difficulty in getting an approval.  A reporter will come in to State of Defense and ask a series of questions so detailed they could be motivated only by Israeli officials.  Sometimes the pressure will come, not from reporters, but from AIPAC.


If things are really hung up, it isn’t before letters and calls start coming from Capitol Hill.  They’ll ask, ‘Why is the Pentagon not approving this item?’  Usually, the letter is from the Congressman in whose district the item is manufactured.  He will argue that the requested item is essential to Israel’s security.  He probably will ask, ‘Who is this bad guy in the Pentagon – or State – who is blocking this approval?  I want his name.  Congress would like to know.’


            The American defense expert pauses to emphasize his point:  “No bureaucrat, no military officer likes to be singled out by anybody from Congress and required to explain his professional duty.”

            He recalls an episode involving President Carter’s secretary of defense, Harold Brown:


I remember once Israel requested an item on the prohibited list.  Before I answered, I checked with Secretary Brown and he said, ‘No, absolutely no.  We’re not going to give in to the bastards on this one.’ So I said no.


Lo and behold, a few days later I got a call from Brown.  He said, “The Israelis are raising hell.  I got a call from [Senator Henry] ‘Scoop’ Jackson, asking why we aren’t cooperating with Israel.  It isn’t worth it.  Let it go.”


            When Jimmy Carter became president, the Israelis were trying to get large quantities of the AIM 9-L, the most advanced U.S. air-to-air missile.  The Pentagon kept saying, “No, no, no.  It isn’t yet deployed to U.S. troops.  The production rate is not enough to supply even U.S. needs.  It is much too sensitive to risk being lost.”  Yet, early in his administration, Carter overruled the Pentagon, and Israel got the missiles.


            A former administration official recalls a remarkable example of Israeli ingenuity:


Israel requested an item of technology, a machine for producing bullets.  It was a big piece of machinery, weighed a lot, and it was exclusive.  We didn’t want other countries to have it, not even Israel.   We knew that if we said ‘no,’ the Israelis would go over our heads and somehow get approval.  So, we kept saying we were studying the request.  Then, to our astonishment, we discovered that the Israelis had already bought the machinery and had it in a warehouse in New York.


            The Israelis did not have a license to ship the equipment, but they had nonetheless been able to make the purchase.  When they were confronted by the Defense official, they said, “We slipped up.  We were sure you’d say ‘yes,’ so we went ahead and bought it.  And if you say no, here’s the bill for storage, and here’s what it will cost you to ship it back to the factory.”  Soon after, the official recalled, someone in the State Department called and said, “Aw, give it to them, “ adding an earthy expletive.

            This sense of futility sometimes reaches all the way to the top.  Unrestricted supplies to Israel were especially debilitating in the 1974 – 77 period when U.S. military services were trying to recover from the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.  In that conflict the United States stripped its own army and air forces in order to supply Israel.

            During this period of U.S. shortage, Israel kept bringing in its shopping lists.  The official recalls that the Pentagon would insist, “No, we can’t provide what you want now.  Come back in a year or so.”  In almost every one of those cases, he said, the Pentagon position was overruled by a political decision out of the White House.  This demoralized the professionals in the Pentagon but, still worse, handicapped national security:  “Defense Department decisions made according to the highest professional standards went by the board in order to satisfy Israeli requests.”


“Exchanges” That Work Only in One Direction


            The Israelis are particularly adept at exploiting sympathetic officials, as a former Pentagon officer explains:


We have people sympathizing with Israel in about every office in the Pentagon.  A lot of military personnel have been in Israel, and some served there, making friends and, of course, a number of Israeli personnel study in U.S. military schools.


The guts, the energy, the skill of the Israelis are much admired in the Pentagon.  Israelis are very good at passing back to us their performance records using our equipment.  Throughout our military schools are always a large number of Israeli students.  They develop great professional rapport with our people.


            For years, the United States and Israel have exchanged military personnel.  On paper, it works both ways.  In practice, Israel is the major beneficiary.  The process is more one of national character than anything clandestine.  Israeli officers generally speak English, so it’s no problem for them to come to America and quickly establish rapport with U.S. officers.  On the other hand, hardly any U.S. officers speak Hebrew.

            Language disparity is not the only problem.  One of equal gravity is the American laxity in enforcing its security regulations.  Many Israeli officers spend a year in a sensitive area – one of the U.S. training commands, or a research and development laboratory.  At the start they are told they cannot enter certain restricted areas.  Then, little by little, the rules are relaxed.  A former Defense Department official explains:


The young Israeli speaks good English.  He is likeable. You know how Americans are: they take him in, and he’s their buddy.  First thing you know, the restrictions are forgotten, and the Israeli officers are admitted to everything in our laboratories, our training facilities, our operational bases.


The former official quickly adds that rules are seldom relaxed at the other end:


This means that the officer training exchange is really a one-way street.  Israel does not permit our officers, whether they speak Hebrew or not, to serve in sensitive military facilities in Israel.  Many areas are totally off limits.  They are very strict about that.  Our officers cannot be present even when U.S. – supplied equipment and weapons are being delivered for the first time.


U.S. officers on exchange programs in Israel are, more often than not, given a desk in an office down the hall, and assigned just enough to do to keep them busy and prevent them from being too frustrated.  Without knowledge of Hebrew, they have almost no way to know what is going on.


            Camaraderie is also an element.  Many employees in the executive branch, Jewish and non-Jewish, feel that the United States and Israel are somehow “in this together” and therefore cooperate without limit.  Many also believe that Israel is a strategic asset and that weapons and other technology provided to Israel serve U.S. purposes.  These feelings sometimes cause official restrictions on sharing of information to be modified or conveniently forgotten.  As one Defense official puts it, the rules get “placed deeper and deeper into the file”:


A sensitive document is picked up by an Israeli officer while his friend, a Defense Department official, deliberately looks the other way.  Nothing is said.  Nothing is written.  And the U.S. official probably does not feel he has done anything wrong.  Meanwhile the Israelis ask for more and more.


            Despite such openhanded generosity, Israel does not hesitate to try to get classified information by espionage, a process that the United States years ago tried unsuccessfully to halt.


Mossad’s Role in the Network


            On one occasion – and only one – an employee of the U.S. government was punished for leaking classified information to Israel, and that was thirty years ago.  In 1954, Fred Waller, a career foreign service officer in charge of the Israeli-Jordan desk at the State Department, read in a classified document that a friend on the staff of the Israeli embassy – under suspicion for espionage – was being recommended by the FBI for expulsion from the United States.

            Waller told associates that he considered the charges “unjustified” and, according to allegations, tipped off his friend at the Israeli embassy.  For this, Waller was first marked for dismissal but later permitted simply to retire.  “They wanted to throw him out without a nickel,” states Don Bergus, who succeeded Waller in the State Department assignment.  During those years of “McCarthyism,” Bergus recalls, “the FBI was recommending that a lot of people be declared persona non grata.  They were so happy with themselves in doing this.  They knew damned will their recommendations wouldn’t be acted upon.”

            Bergus recalls that Israel got a lot of information without espionage activity:  “A lot of the information was volunteered.  The apples were put on the table, and I don’t blame Israel for taking them.”

            The investigation of Waller occurred during the high point of our government’s concern over Israeli intelligence activities in the United States. Because the Eisenhower administration was trying to withhold weapons from Israel, as well as other states in the Middle East, a major attempt was made to bring leaks of classified information under control.   A veteran diplomat recalls the crisis: “Employees in States and Defense were being suborned and bribed on a wide scale, and our government went to Israel and demanded that it stop.”

            After high-level negotiations following the Waller affair, the United States and Israel entered into an unwritten agreement to share a larger volume of classified information and at the same time to restrict sharply the clandestine operations each conducted in the other’s territory.  The diplomat explains that it was supposed to be a two-way street:  “The deal provided that we would get more from them too, and it was hoped the arrangement would end the thievery and payoff of U.S. employees.”

            The understanding with Israel did not end the problem, however, as the Israelis were not content to let the U.S. decide what classified information it would receive.  Israel did not live up to the terms of the agreement and continued to engage broadly in espionage activities throughout the United States.

            This was still true more than twenty years after the Waller episode, during the tenure of Atlanta mayor Andrew Young as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Carter Administration.  Young recalls, “I operated on the assumption that the Israelis would learn just about everything instantly.  I just always assumed that everything was monitored, and that there was a pretty formal network.”

            Young resigned as ambassador in August 1979 after it was revealed that he had met with Zuhdi Terzi, the PLO’s UN observer, in violation of the U.S. pledge to Israel not to talk to the PLO.  Press reports on Young’s episode said Israeli intelligence learned of the meeting and that Israeli officials then leaked the information to the press, precipitating the diplomatic wrangle which led to Young’s resignation.

            Israel denied that its agents had learned of the Yong-Terzi meeting.  The press counselor at the Israeli embassy went so far as to tell the Washington Star, “We do not conduct any kind of intelligence activities in the United States.  This denial must have been amusing to U.S. intelligence experts, one of whom talked with Newsweek magazine about Mossad’s activities here:  “They have penetrations all through the U.S. government.  They do better than the KGB,” said the expert, whom the magazine did not identify.

            The Newsweek article continued:


With the help of American Jews in and out of government, Mossad looks for any softening in U.S. support and tries to get any technical intelligence the administration is unwilling to give Israel.


‘Mossad can go to any distinguished American Jew and ask for his help,’ says a former CIA agent.  The appeal is a simple one: ‘When the call went out and no one heeded it, the Holocaust resulted.’


The U.S. tolerates Mossad’s operations on American soil partly because of the reluctance to anger the American Jewish community.


Another reason cited: Mossad is often a valuable source of information for U.S. intelligence.


            Penetration by Israel continued at such a high level that a senior State Department official who has held the highest career positions related to the Middle East confides, “I urged several times that the U.S. quit trying to keep secrets from Israel.  Let them have everything.  They always get what they want anyway.  When we try to keep secrets, it always backfires.”

            An analysis prepared by the CIA in 1979, 25 years after the U.S.-Israel espionage agreement, gives no hint that Mossad had in any way restricted its operations within the United States.  According to the 48-page secret document, entitled, Israel: Foreign Intelligence and Security Services, the United States continues to be a focus of Mossad operations:


In carrying out its mission to collect positive intelligence, the principal function of Mossad is to conduct agent operations against the Arab nations and their official representatives and installations throughout the worlds, particularly in Western Europe and the United States. . . .


Objectives in Western countries are equally important (as in the U.S.S.R. and East Europe) to the Israeli intelligence service.  Mossad collects intelligence regarding Western, Vatican and UN policies toward the Near East; promotes arms deals for the benefit of the IDG; and acquires data for silencing anti-Israel factions in the West. [emphasis added] (by Findley in 1986)


            Under “methods of operation,” the CIA booklet describes the way in which Mossad makes use of domestic pro-Israeli groups.  It states that “Mossad over the years has enjoyed some rapport with highly-placed persons and government offices in every country of importance to Israel.”  It adds, “Within Jewish communities in almost every country of the world, there are Zionists and other sympathizers, who render strong support to the Israeli intelligence effort.” It explains,


Such contacts are carefully nurtured and serve as channels for information, deception material, propaganda and other purposes. . . . Mossad activities are generally conducted through Israeli official and semiofficial establishments; deep cover enterprises in the form of firms and organizations, some especially created for, or adaptable to, a specific objective, and penetrations affected within non-Zionist national and international Jewish organizations . . . .


Official organizations used for cover are:  Israeli Purchasing Missions and Israeli Government Tourist, El Al and Zim offices.  Israeli construction firms, industrial groups and international trade organizations also provide nonofficial cover.  Individuals working under deep or illegal cover are normally changed with penetrating objectives that require a long-range, more subtle approach, or with activities in which the Israeli government can never admit complicity . . . .


The Israeli intelligence service depends heavily on the various Jewish communities and organizations abroad for recruiting agents and eliciting general information.  The aggressively ideological nature of Zionism, which emphasizes that all Jews belong to Israel and must return to Israel, had had its drawbacks in enlisting support for intelligence operations, however, since there is considerable opposition to Zionism among Jews throughout the world.


Aware of this fact, Israeli intelligence representatives usually operate discreetly within Jewish communities and are under instruction to handle their missions with utmost tact to avoid embarrassment to Israel.  They also attempt to penetrate anti-Jewish elements in order to neutralize the opposition.


            The theft of scientific data is a major objective of Mossad operations, which is often attempted by trying to recruit local agents.


In addition to the large-scale acquisition of published scientific papers and technical journals from all over the world through covert channels,  the Israelis devote a considerable portion of their covert operations to obtaining scientific and technical intelligence.  This had included attempts to penetrate certain classified defense projects in the United States and other Western nations.


The Israeli security authorities (in Israel) also seek evidence of illicit love affairs which can be used as leverage to enlist cooperation.  In one instance, Shin Beth (the domestic Israeli intelligence agency) tried to penetrate the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem through a clerical employee who was having an affair with a Jerusalem girl.  They rigged a fake abortion case against the employee in an unsuccessful effort to recruit him.  Before this attempt at blackmail, they had tried to get the Israeli girl to elicit information from her boyfriend.


            Israel’s espionage activities, according to the CIA, even included “crude efforts to recruit Marine guards [at the United States Embassy at Tel Aviv] for monetary reward.”  It reports that a hidden microphone “planted by the Israelis” was found in the office of the U.S. ambassador in 1954, and two years later telephone taps were found connected to two telephones in the residence of the United States military attaché.  Retired diplomat Don Bergus recalls the episode:  “Our ambassador, Ed Lawson, reported the bug in a telegram to Washington that went something like this:  ‘Department must assume that all conversation in my office as well as texts of my telegrams over the last six months are known to the Israelis.’  Ed had dictated all telegrams to his secretary.”

            During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, columnist Jack Anderson quoted “U.S. intelligence reports,” actually supplied by the Israeli embassy, by the way of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, that the PLO had mined the embassy to frustrate any rescue attempt by the United States.  The intelligence reports proved to be bogus.

            Asked about the present activities of Mossad in the United States, a senior official in the Department of State, is candid:


We have to assume that they have wire taps all over town.  In my work I frequently pick up highly-sensitive information coming back to me in conversations with people who have no right to have these secrets.  I will ask, ‘I wonder who has the wiretaps out to pick that up,’ and usually the answer is, ‘I don’t know, but it sure isn’t us.’


            The same official says he never gives any highly sensitive information over his office phone.  “You have to respect their ingenuity.  The Mossad people really know how to get into a system.”


“No One Needs Trouble Like That”


            Leaks of classified information remain a major problem for policymakers.  An official whose identity I promised to withhold says that during the Carter administration his colleagues feared even to speak up even in small private meetings.  When Israeli requests were turned down at interagency meetings attended at most by fifteen people – all of whom knew the discussions were to be considered top secret – within hours “the Israeli military attaché, the political officer, or the ambassador – or all of them at once – were lodging protests.  They knew exactly who said what, even though nothing had been put on paper.”  He adds, “No one needs trouble like that.”

            He says David McGiffert, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, was often subjected to pressure.  Frequently the Israeli embassy would demand copies of documents that were still in the draft stage and had not reached his desk.

            To counteract these kinds of leaks some officials have taken their own precautions.

            Although no charges are ever brought against those suspected of leaking information to Israel, they are sometimes bypassed when classified documents are handed out.  The word is forwarded discreetly to drop their names from the distribution list.  One such official served during both the Carter and Reagan administrations and remains today in a sensitive foreign policy position.   When he occupied a senior position in the Carter administration, his superiors were instructed to “clear nothing” in the way of classified documents related to the Middle East through his office and used extreme caution when discussing such matters in his presence.  One of his colleagues says, admiringly, “He is brilliant.  He belongs in government, but he has a blind spot where Israel is concerned.”

            To strike back at government officials considered to be unsympathetic to Israeli needs the pro-Israel lobby singles them out for personal attack and even the wrecking of their careers.  In January 1977 a broad-scale purge was attempted immediately after the inauguration of President Carter.  The perpetrator was Senator Richard Stone of Florida, a Democrat, a passionate supporter of Israel.  When he was newly installed as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Middle East, he brought along with him a “hit list” on a call at the White House.  In his view fifteen officials were not sufficiently supportive of Israel and its weapons needs, and he wanted them transferred to positions where their views would create no problems for Israel.  Marked for removal were William Quandt, Brzezinski’s assistant for Middle East matters, and Les Janka, who had served on the National Security Council under Ford.  The others were military officers, most of them colonels.  Stone’s demands were rejected by BrzezinskI and, according to a senior White House official, “after pressing reasonably hard for several days, “ the Senator gave up.  Although unsuccessful, his demands caused a stir.  One officer says, “I find it very ironic that a U.S. Senator goes to a U.S. President’s National Security Advisor and tells him to fire Americans for insufficient loyalty to another country.


Leaks Disrupt American Foreign Policy


For times in recent years, major leaks of information to Israel caused serious setbacks in our relations with Israel’s neighbors.  The first destroyed an arrangement with Jordan that had been serving U.S. security interests successfully for years.

            Under a long-standing secret agreement, Jordan’s King Hussein received secret financial support from the CIA.  It was a carry-over of a normal support system developed by the British.  Under it, moderate leaders like Hussein received payments in exchange for helpful services which enabled them to maintain their political base without having to account to anyone locally. 

            Early in the Carter administration, a White House review was ordered of all covert operations, including, of course, the CIA payments in the Middle East. Nineteen people attended the review meeting in early February 1977, and one of the senior officials who attended recalls: "“ feared at the time that leaks were certain to occur.”  A few days later, the Washington Post headlined a story, “CIA Paid Millions to Jordan’s King Hussein.”  Written by Bob Woodward, the article said that over a period of twenty years the CIA had made “secret annual payments totaling millions of dollars” to Hussein.  It said the payment in 1976 was $750,000, and the disclosure provoked wide international controversy.

            When he read Woodward’s Washington Post article, Senator James G. Abourezk of South Dakota called in Harold Saunders, then an official of the National Security Council, and received confirmation that Israel, as well as Jordan, was receiving secret payments from the CIA.  Abourezk recalls that Saunders estimated that during the same period that Hussein received about $10 million, over $70 million went to Israel.  The payments helped Israel support its own burgeoning foreign aid program in Africa, payments which Abourezk believes still continue.  Hussein used the funds to maintain a strong relationship with the Bedouin tribes of his desert kingdom.

            After confirming the information, Abourezk called Woodward and asked if he was aware of the CIA aid to Israel when he wrote about the payments to Jordan.  Abourezk recalls, “Woodward admitted knowledge of the payments to Israel but said he thought the circumstances were different and that is why he did not write about them.”  Abourezk recalls being so outraged at this explanation and Woodward’s “selective” coverage of the news that he shouted over the phone, “It seems to me that sort of judgment is better left up to the readers of the Post.”

            Abourezk tried unsuccessfully for several months to interest Washington journalists in the news that Israel too received CIA payments.  Months later, after the furor over Jordan had died down, Jack Anderson mentioned the payments to Israel in his syndicated column.  There was no public outcry.

            The CIA arrangement with Jordan was viewed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Adviser, as “very valuable” to the United States.  But as a result of the publicity, he recalls, the arrangement had to be canceled, Hussein was embarrassed, and the United States suffered a setback in its relations with the Arab world.

            The next leak so embarrassed the U.S.-Saudi relations that a career intelligence officer was ordered out of Saudi Arabia.  After the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979, there was speculation that the Saudi regime also might fall.  The CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia reported this information to Washington in a secret cable, citing it as only a rumor, not a forecast.  On the basis of this and other reports and analysis in Washington, the CIA produced a paper given restricted circulation in the official policy community.  That paper discussed the stability of the Saudi regime.  A report was leaked to news services which erroneously stated that the CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia predicted the fall of the Saudi government within six months.

            John C. West, former governor of South Carolina, was the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the time.  West recalls the CIA story:  “Of course, there was no such prediction that the Saudi government would fall, but that’s the way it was printed.”  The episode caused deep resentment in the Saudi capital and the station chief was asked to leave.

            West had other problems with leaks.  On another occasion, this time in 1980, a government employee’s leak of secret information destroyed a sensitive mission to Saudi Arabia and, in West’s opinion, led to a costly confrontation between the President and the Senate.  The leak came from a secret White House meeting where West and a small group of high officials decided several Saudi requests to buy military equipment.  “The arms package was of very, very great concern to the Saudis,” West recalls:


It was essential that they, as serious customers, not be embarrassed.  As we went over the items, I said, “Whatever we do, we must not say ‘no’ to the Saudis on any of these.  It’s very important that we avoid a flat turn down.”


            The group agreed to approve four of the requests but found the other two highly controversial.  The Saudis wanted to buy high-technology AWACS intelligence-gathering aircraft and special bomb racks for F-15 fighter planes they already owned.  These sale would cause an uproar in neighboring Israel, and the Carter administration did not want to offend either government. 

            West worked out solutions to both problems.  “Let’s do this,” he advised the group:


The bomb racks haven’t yet been adopted as a part of the U.S. system.  There are still some bugs that need to be worked out.  Let’s explain that we won’t make a decision until we decide the bomb racks are right and meet our own requirements.  Given that explanation, the Saudis will go along.


            On the AWACS dilemma, West predicted the Saudis would withdraw their request to buy the planes if the United States would resume a practice initiated during the tense period following the fall of the Shah of Iran.  At that time, he says, “The U.S. met Saudi intelligence needs by operating AWACS  planes from Saudi bases and supplying to the Saudi government the information accumulated on these flights.”  West told the group, “I will explain to the Saudis that the U.S. can’t deliver the new planes until 1985 , and by then the technology will probably be outdated.”

            West’s recommendations were never accepted.  The Saudis would be permitted by buy the four non-controversial items, and the other two requests would be set aside in a way that would cause no offense.  West says, “I was instructed to explain the decisions personally when I returned to Saudi Arabia.”

            But once again, sensitive information was leaked in a twisted form. West recalls,


The very day I left for Saudi Arabia, the New York Times published a story headlined: ‘Carter Is Said to Refuse Saudi Request for Arms.’ Other anews services reported that at a high level meeting the White House decided to turn down the Saudi request, and after debating several days how to break the news, instructed West simply to tell them ‘no.’


I knew nothing of the leak until I landed in Saudi Arabia ready to meet Saudi officials in appointments already scheduled.  The news story hit me in the face when I got off the plane.  It was terrible. 


            The Times story delivered the blunt negative answer that West had warned must be avoided at all cost.  “It destroyed all chance of success in my diplomatic mission.”


            West does not know how the newspapers got the damaging report.  Only a few had attended the meeting in the White House, but notes were taken, memos prepared.  He speculates that the story, with deliberate inaccuracies, was leaked by “someone determined to worsen relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.”

            A few months later, the Carter administration resumed AWACs operations based in Saudi Arabia.  Nonetheless, embarrassed by the earlier headlines, Saudi officials decided to insist on buying their own AWACS plans and launched a public relations campaign in the United States that culminated in a costly, bruising showdown two years later in the U.S. Senate.  Without the leak, West feels, the Saudi would have accepted the Carter administration decision and the AWACS controversy would never have surfaced.  If so, the U.S. taxpayers might have been spared an extra $1.2 billion in aid to Israel – the price Israel’s lobby demanded as compensation when it lost the AWACS vote in the Senate.

            West recalls that leaks to Israel were so frequent that he imposed strict rules on communications:


I would never put anything in any cable that was critical of Israel.  Still, because of the grapevine, there was never any secret from the government of Israel.  The Israelis knew everything, usually by the time it got to Washington.  I can say that without qualification.


            West adds that if he wanted to communicate any information that was in any way critical of Israel, he felt more confident using an open telephone line that a top-secret cable.

            West’s problems with the lobby did not end with his departure from diplomatic service.  Before leaving his post in 1981, in an interview in Jeddah, he told a reporter the “most difficult question” he encountered during his work as ambassador was trying to explain why talks between the U.S. and the PLO were not permitted.

            This mild comment caused trouble when West returned to private life.  His appointment as distinguished professor of Middle East studies at the University of South Carolina brought a strong protest from a group of South Carolina Jews led by State Senator Hyman Rubin.  “The group charged bias,” West recalls, “and the protest so disturbed the university administration that public announcement of my appointment was delayed for more than a year.”  When he learned of the protest, West asked Rubin to arrange a meeting with his group.  The result was a candid two-hour discussion between twenty critics and the ambassador-turned-professor.  In its wake, West says, “The controversy subsided,” and he assumed his post.

            In 1983 the Israeli embassy itself directly arranged a news leak which effectively blocked U.S. support of a Jordanian rapid deployment force, though it concealed its own role.  The White House was privately considering a proposal under which the U.S. would help Jordan establish an airborne unit able to provide swift help if nearby Arabs states were threatened.  A White House official explains,


When the Bahrainis asked for help during the Iranian crisis, Jordan wanted to help but had no way to get there.  The Jordanian force idea is sound.  Arabs need to be able to defend their own territory.  Instead of having an American rapid deployment force going to the Persian Gulf, it would be better for Arabs to do the job themselves.  Better to have Muslims defending Muslim territory than American boys.


            L.Dean Brown, former ambassador to Jordan, says the proposal would have been a “godsend” to the small countries of the gulf.  “what Jordan needed were c-130 transport planes in order to move light weapons by air.”

            At first, Israel raised no objection.  Told of the plan while he was still Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Moshe Arens simply listened.  A White House official close to the project recalls, “We told Arens that we were going to have Israeli interests in mind, but we were going ahead.  We would proceed in a way that would not harm Israel.”

            The non-committal Israeli reaction was mistaken as a green light, and, after getting clearance from the intelligence committees of Congress, the Reagan administration proceeded with secret negotiations.

            After Arens left to become Israel’s defense minister, the proposal ran into trouble.  Briefed on the progress of the project by Secretary of State Shultz, Meir Rsenne, Israel’s new ambassador, suddenly raised objections.  The Israeli embassy tipped off a reporter for an Israeli radio station about the issue, suggesting he go to Congressman Clarence Long, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that handles aid to Israel, and “he will tell you the whole story.”  Long cooperated, Israeli radio broke the story, and with controversy swirling in Israel, AIPAC joined the fray with its own salvos.

            A White House official recalls the effect.  “Once this became public,” he says, “King Hussein of Jordan backed away too.  He didn’t want to be seen as a tool of the Americans.”  The official says his colleagues at the White House were convinced that the whole thing was a carefully engineered leak by the Israeli embassy.  It was delayed only until Arens left Washington.  “It was a carom shot, bounced through Doc Long and Israeli radio in such a way tat it would not be traced back to the embassy.”  Former U.S. Ambassador Brown describes the leak by the Israeli’s as purposeful.”


“The State Department Leaks Like a Sieve.”


            A leak got Talcott Seelye, ambassador to Syria, in hot water in 1981 when he sent a classified cable from Syria to the State Department protesting a resolution just introduced in the House of Representatives by Stephen Solarz, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Solarz represents a New York district in which Jews of Syrian origin are numerous, and his resolution criticized Syria for not permitting more Jews to leave that country.

            In the cable Seelye warned that approval of the resolution would make Syria less cooperative, not more.  Seelye explains, “My cable said that if Solarz is sincere and serious about getting the Jews out of Syria, he will not go ahead with this resolution; on the other hand, if he merely wants to make points with the voters, he should do something else.”  The cable was leaked to Solarz, who called Secretary of State Vance and demanded:  “Look, you’ve got to get Seelye out of there.”  Vance was furious over the leak.

            Seelye kept his job, but the State Department did little to defeat the resolution.  When the resolution was taken up in the House, only one no vote was heard.

            The employee guilty of leaking the cable to Solarz worked under Ed Sanders, Carter’s official liaison with the Jewish community, who then had an office in the State Department as well as the White House.  No punishment was imposed; the employee was simply transferred to a different job.

            The leak confirmed the fears of diplomats who had strongly opposed locating a Jewish liaison office in the State Department.  One diplomat of the period describes Sanders as “a very decent human being, and he was there to do his job at the request of the president.  At the same time, some of the stuff we were doing should not get out of the building to anybody.”

            Harold Saunders, a scholarly career Middle East specialist who occasionally got in hot water by noting Arab concerns, was then assistant secretary of state and voiced his feelings to Vance: “How would you like having someone from U.S. Steel sitting in our Economic Bureau’s tariff office””  Vance too opposed the arrangement, but Sander’s State Department office was not closed for months.

            Seelye pinpoints a very mundane reason for the wave of leaks:  the prevalence of copying machines.  He says that as ambassador to Syria he operated on the assumption that the Israelis would learn everything he sent to Washington.  He says, “The trouble with our system of classification is that even when we limit distribution, say, to just twenty copies for the whole government, one of the offices on the list will make a dozen extra copies for their own use, and so on.  It’s hard to control.”

            Veterans in government lay the blame for much of the leaking on political appointees hold important positions in the state Department and not on career diplomats.  In the early months of the Reagan Administration, National Security Adviser Richard Allen was viewed as highly sympathetic to Israeli interests and, in fact, as the de facto clearance officer, encouraging the placement of personnel acceptable to the state of Israel in key positions.  After Allen’s departure from government, a senior officer of the State Department recalls, “No one was needed to replace him, as people with pro-Israeli interests - we called them mail carriers – are spotted in every important office.”

             A senior diplomat, now on leave, says: “The leaks are almost never traced to professional foreign service officers.  In my experience, leaks are normally by staff members brought in by political appointees, and every administration brings in a lot of them.  They seem to be all over the place.”  He says these “loose-tongued amateurs” are prominent on the seventh floor, where offices of senior State Department officials are located, and on the staff for policy planning, as well as in the White House.  This gives them ready access to sensitive material.  “Unfortunately,” he adds, “they do not have the same idea of discipline and sense of loyalty as the professionals.”

            Some leaks originate from a few members of Congress and their staff.  A former Defense Department official recalls,


There were individuals on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon viewed as conduits to Israel.  No question about it.  A number of times we would get requests from Congressmen or Senators for intelligence materials.  We knew damn well that these materials were not for their own edification.  The information would be passed to Israel.


For example, we would get a letter from a Congressman, stating he had heard the Pentagon had done a study on the military balance between Israel and its Arab neighbors.  He would like to have a copy of it.  We would respond, “We can’t give you a copy, but we can give you an oral briefing.’  The usual answer is, “Sorry, we are not interested in an oral briefing.’


The Case of Stephen Bryen


            In the opinion of all these sources, Israeli penetration of State and Defense has reached an all-time high during the Reagan administration.  In 1984 people known to have intimate links with Israel were employed in offices throughout the bureaucracy and particularly in the Defense Department, where top-secret weapons technology and other sensitive matters are routinely handled.

            The bureaucracy is headed by Fred Ikle, undersecretary of defense for international security.  The three personalities of greatest importance in his area are Richard Perle, Idle’s assistant for international security policy; Stephen Bryen, Perle’s principal deputy, whose assigned specialty was technology transfer; and Noel Koch, principal deputy to Richard Armitage, assistant secretary for international security affairs.  Koch was formerly employed by the Zionist Organization of America.  Perle previously served on the staff of Democratic Senator henry Jackson of Washington, one of Israel’s most ardent boosters, and had the reputation of being a conduit of information to the Israeli government.  Stephen Bryen came to the administration under the darkest cloud of all.

            Bryen’s office is represented on the inter-agency unit, known as the National Disclosure Policy Commission, which approves technology transfers related to weapons systems.  The commission includes representatives of State, National Security Council and the intelligence services, as well as Defense.  Bryen was publicly accused in 1978 of offering a top-secret document on Saudi air bases to a group of visiting Israeli officials.

            The accusation arose from an incident reported by Michael Saba, a journalist and former employee of the National Association of Arab Americans.  Saba, who readily agreed to a lie detector test by the FBI, said he overheard Bryen make the offer while having breakfast in a Washington restaurant.  At the time, Bryen was on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  A senior career diplomat expresses the problem State Department officials encountered during that period: “Whenever Bryen was in the room we always had to use extreme caution.”  During the controversy, Bryen was suspended from the commit staff but later reinstated.  He later left the committee position and became executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), an organization founded – according to The Jewish Week – to “convince people that the security of Israel and the United States is interlinked.”  When Bryen moved to a position in the Defense Department, his wife, Shoshona, replaced him at JINSA.

            After nine months the investigating attorneys recommended that a grand jury be empanelled to consider the evidence against Bryen.  According to the Justice Department, other witnesses testified to Bryen’s Israeli contacts.  Indeed, a Justice Department memorandum dates January 26, 1979, discussed “unresolved questions thus far, which suggest that Bryen is (a) gathering classified information for the Israelis, (b) acting as their unregistered agent and (c) lying about it. . . .”  The Justice Department studied the complaint for two years.  Although it found that Bryen had an “unusually close relationship with Israel,” it made no charges and in late 1979 closed the file.  Early in 1981 Bryen was hired as Richard Perle’s chief deputy in the Pentagon.  He remains in this highly responsible position today.

            Perle himself was also the subject of an Israel-related controversy.  An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy.  He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company.  Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm.

            Because of these controversies both Perle and Bryen were given assignments in the Reagan administration which – it was expected – would keep him isolated from issues relating to Israel.  But, observes a State Department official, it has not worked out that way.  Sensitive questions of technology transfer which affect Israeli interests are often settled in the offices of Perle and Bryen.

            Despite the investigation, Bryen holds one of the highest possible security classification at the Department of Defense.  It is a top secret/code word classification, which gives him access to documents and data anywhere in government, almost without limit.  A high official in the Department of State explains the significance of his access:  “With this classification, Bryen can keep up to date not only on what the United States has in the way of technology, but on what we hope to have in the future as the result of secret research and development.  


“I’ll Take Care of the Congress”


            Admiral Thomas Moorer recalls a dramatic example of Israeli lobby power from his days as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  At the time of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war Mordacai Gur, the defense attaché at the Israeli embassy who later became commander-in-chief of Israeli forces, came to Moorer demanding that the U.S. provide Israel with aircraft equipped with a high technology air-to-surface anti-tank missile called the Maverick.  At the time, the U.S. had only one squadron so equipped.  Moorer recalls telling Gur:


I can’t let you have those aircraft.  We have just one squadron.  Besides, we’ve been testifying before the Congress convincing then we need this equipment.  If we gave you our only squadron, Congress would raise hell with us.


            Moorer looks at me with a steady piercing gaze that must have kept a generation of ensigns trembling in their boots:  “And do you know what he said?” Gur told me, “You get us the airplanes; I’ll take care of the Congress.’”  Moorer pauses, then adds, “And he did.”  America’s only squadron with Mavericks went to Israel.

            Moorer, speaking in his office in Washington as a senior counselor at the Georgetown University Center for Strategic and International Studies, says he strongly opposed the transfer but was overruled by “political expediency at the presidential level.”  He notes President Richard Nixon was then in the throes of Watergate.  “But,” he adds,


I’ve never seen a President – I don’t care who he is – stand up to them [the Israelis].  It just boggles the mind.


They always get what they want.  The Israelis know what is going on all the time.  I got to the point where I wasn’t writing anything down.


If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms.  Our citizens don’t have any idea what goes on.


            On another occasion, fear of lobby pressure caused a fundamental decision on further military sales to Israel to be deliberately pigeonholed.  It involved the general consensus of professionals in the Pentagon that Israel had enough military power for any need as of 1975.  By then it had reached a level of superiority that was overwhelming.  In December 1976 the Middle East Arms Transfer Panel wrote a report to Secretary of Defense Ronald Rumsfeld, concluding that no additional arms sales to Israel were necessary.  However, Rumsfel did not send the report to the State Department.  It was the closing days of the Ford administration, and its transmission as an official document and subsequent leakage would have given the Democrats a partisan edge with the Israeli lobby.

            Jewish groups in the United States are often pressed into service to soften up the secretary of state and other officials, especially in advance of a visit to the United States by the Israeli Prime Minister.  A senior Defense official explains, “Israel would always have a long shopping list for the prime minister to take up. We would decide which items were worth making into an issue and which were not.  We would try to work things out in advance.”  There was the constant threat that the prime minister might take an arms issue straight to the president, and the tendency was to clear the agenda of everything possible.  “We might decide that we don’t want this chicken shit electronic black box to be an issue between the president and prime minister, we would approve it in advance.”

            On one such occasion, Ed Sanders, President Carter’s adviser on Jewish affairs, brought a complaint to the National Security Council offices:  “I’m getting a lot of flack from Jewish Congressmen on the ALQ 95-J.  What is this thing?  And why are we being so nasty about it?  Shouldn’t we let Israel have it?  The president is getting a lot of abuse because the Pentagon won’t turn it loose.”  It was a high technology radar jamming device, and soon it was approved for shipment to Israel.

            In advance of Carter’s decision to provide a high technology missile to Israel, a procession of Jewish groups came, one after another, to say:


Please explain to us why the Pentagon is refusing to sell AIM 9-L missiles to Israel?  Don’t you know what this means?  The missile is necessary so the Israelis will be able to shoot down the counterpart missile on the Mig 21 which carries the Eight Ball 935.


            A former high-ranking official in security affairs cites the intimidating effect of this procession on career specialists:


When you have to explain your position day after day, week after week to American Jewish groups – first, say, from Kansas City, then Chicago, the East Overshoe – you see what you are up against.  These are people from different parts of the country, but the come in with the very same information, the same set of questions, the same criticism.


They know what you have done even in private meetings.  They will say, ‘Mr. Smith, we understand that in interagency meetings, you frequently take a hard line against technology transfers to Israel.  We’d like you to explain yourself.’  They keep you on the defensive.  They treat you as if you are the long pole in the anti-Israel tent no matter how modest the position you have taken.


            Jewish groups in turn press Capitol Hill into action:


We’ll get letters from Congressmen: ‘We need an explanation.  We’re hearing from constituents that Israel’s security is threatened by the refusal of the Pentagon to release the AIM 9-L missile.  Please, Mr. Secretary, can you give me your rationale for the refusal?’


            The certainty of such lobby pressure can be costly to taxpayers.  In one instance it kept the U.S. from trying to recover U.S.-supplied arms which Israel captured from Lebanon.  During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, its forces overran and captured tons of equipment of all sorts, including weapons supplied by the United States to the government forces in that country.  Knowledge of this came to light in an unusual way a year later. 

            During a visit to Lebanon, the Reverend George Crossley, of Deltona, Florida, was shown cases of U.S.-made M-16 rifles which Israel officials said were captured from Palestinian forces.  Crossley noted they carried a Saudi insignia and wrote down the serial numbers.  Saudi Arabia, of course, had no forces involved in the fighting in Lebanon, and the clergyman jumped to the conclusion that rifles the U.S. had sold to Saudi Arabia were turned over to the PLO forces in Lebanon, then captured by the Israelis.  If true, this would have been a violation of a U.S. law which prohibits transfer of U.S.-supplied weapons to another country without permission. 

            Crossley wrote to his Congressman, Bill Chappell, Jr. who asked the State Department to explain.  A check of records showed the U.S. had never sold M-16 rifles to the Saudis, who prefer a German make.  The rifles in question were provided directly to forces of the Lebanese government. 

            The episode got public attention at a time when the U.S. government, at great expense, was once again equipping Lebanese forces.  A White House official, reading accounts of the Crossley affair, asked the desk officer at the Pentagon why the U.S. didn’t demand that the Israelis give back these rifles and all other equipment they had taken from the Lebanese army.  The Pentagon had an accurate list of what the U.S. had supplied.  Surely, he argued, the Israeli government could be forced to cooperate, and this would ease U.S. costs substantially.

            The desk officer exploded: “Are you kidding?  No way in hell!  Who needs that?  I answer maybe one hundred letters a month for the secretary of defense in reply to Congressmen who bitch and complain about our mistreatment of Israel.   Do you think that I want to increase my work load answering more shitty letters?  Do you think I am going to recommend action that will increase the flow of problem letters to my boss?  Be serious.”

            Every official of prominence in the State and Defense Department proceeds on the assumption-and certainty – that at least once a week he will have to deal with a group from the Jewish community.  One of them summaries,


One has to keep in mind the constant character of this pressure.  The public affairs staff of the Near East Bureau in the State Department figures it will spend about 75 percent of its time dealing with Jewish groups.  Hundreds of such groups get appointments in the executive branch each year. 


            In acting to influence U.S. policy in the Middle East, the Israeli lobby has the field virtually to itself.  Other interest groups and individuals who might provide some measure of counterbalancing pressure have only begun to get organized.

            Americans of Arab ancestry, for example, remain divided.  A diplomat who formerly served in a high position in the State Department gives this example:


When a group concerned about U.S. bias favoring Israel would come in for an appointment, more often than not those in the group start arguing among themselves.  One person will object to a heavy focus on Palestinian problems.  Another will want Lebanon’s problems to be central to the discussion.  I would just sit back and listen.  They had not worked out in advance what they wanted to say.


            Les Janka had similar experiences.  In a commentary at a gathering sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, he recalled visits by groups sympathetic to Arab problems:


Their complaints tended to be fairly general.  They would say, ‘We want the U.S. to be more even-handed, more balanced,’ or ‘We want you to be more interested in the Palestinians.’ Nothing specific.  In contrast the Jewish groups come in with a very specific list of demands.


On all kinds of foreign policy issues the American people just don’t make their voiced heard.  Jewish groups are the exceptions.  They are prepared, superbly briefed.  They have their act together.  It is hard for bureaucracies not to respond.


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