The foot in the mouth of American intelligence
Newsweek's articles only point out hypocrisy and ignorance in a US intelligence community that harbors a vindictive attitude towards Israel.
Ron Ben-Yishai - Ynet - May 11, 2014
The second Newsweek article on Israel's alleged spying efforts in the US,
titled "Israel's Aggressive Spying in the US Mostly Hushed Up", embarrasses
its author and sources almost more than the original piece published last
It serves as additional proof to what anyone who has ever worked in
Washington DC and with the White House knows - American analysis of events
pertaining to foreigners is at times distorted or even downright mistaken.
US security and intelligence officials have a tendency to judge the actions
of others as if they were undertaken by the Americans, resulting in the pot
calling the kettle black.
The US intelligence community, which eavesdrops on every corner of the known
world, attributes the same to us at times, especially when it serves US
interests. The best example of this is actually the incident regarding
Israel's alleged attempt to place a spy in Al Gore's hotel room, the
incident which opens Jeff Stien's second Newsweek's article.
The article cites a Secret Service man who reportedly secured the
then-vice-president's hotel room in Jerusalem, probably, the Kind David
Hotel, and made sure the room was free of wire taps.
As is protocol in such cases, and this is well known to Israel's security
and intelligence officials, one Secret Service man remains in the hotel room
to make sure it remains 'clean' and no would be assassins attempt to enter
while the room is vacant.
According to the Newsweek report, the bodyguard was alone in the room when
he suddenly heard a noise from the air-condition vent and saw its cover
being removed from within the vent. Someone was allegedly attempting to
enter the room through the now open duct.
The Secret Service agent then coughed to alert the intruder of his presence
and the "Israeli spy" whom he reportedly caught red-handed, did an
about-face and returned up the vent to whence he came. That is the article's
proof of Israel's "aggressive" spy tactics.
Anyone in the loop knows that if Israeli intelligence services wanted to spy
against Al Gore, it could have done so in numerous ways, especially while in
Israel where they enjoy a home field advantage.
In this case, sadly and embarrassingly for Newsweek, it is probably no other
than a hotel maintenance worker taking care of the AC system. It was
probably nothing but a routine examination, one conducted in anticipation of
the State visit of such a senior ranking figure.
The story is full of additionally 'embarrassing' stories for the Israeli spy
service, including stories of senior Israeli military industry CEOs being
invited to the US for tours of possible business opportunities and these
business trips were framed in the article as clear-cut proof of Israel's
As Yedioth Aharonoth's Washington correspondent for almost seven years, the
tendency of US intelligence officials to attribute their own MO to others is
well known to me. In my mind there is no doubt that the Newsweek report did
not make up the stories it reported.
It was fed the tales by former members in the US spy service and
congressional aides privy to briefings by security officials. The resulting
report is something between embarrassing and laughable, and testifies more
than anything to a general lack of understanding regarding the workings of
What is concerning is the motivation of those sources feeding Stein to pen
two such stories, and they probably have three main responses for pushing
1. A desire to prevent the release of convicted US-Israeli spy Jonathan
Pollard, and anger at the Obama administration's willingness to succumb to
Israeli pressure and offer his release in return for extending peace talks.
The deal never actualized, but US Secretary of State John Kerry's success in
convincing Obama to disregard the recommendations of his intelligence
services - which have thus prevented his release with scandalous and
baseless claims - have inspired their anger.
The anti-Israeli core of the US intelligence services have blocked Pollard's
release by claiming that Israel is still involved in spying against the US
and has yet to divulge the full scope of Pollard's work. His continued
incarceration is their vengeance.
At the time of the reported deal, the head of the CIA threatened to quit
should the release take place, and even former US President Bill Clinton
expressed apprehension. The fact that Obama was even willing to move forward was an irregular step.
2. The move to allow Israel to join the exclusive Visa Waiver club, one of
the pro-Israel lobby's potentially greatest achievements, has invoked the
anger of the US intelligence community. It is also possible that
conservative republicans are using these unnamed former intelligence
officials to slam Obama's administration.
3. There is growing anger from US intelligence officials at their Israeli
counterparts, who have repeatedly embarrassed them. For example, in an
intelligence briefing from 2005 regarding Iran's nuclear program the US
intelligence community announced Iran had frozen its nuclear program.
Israel claimed that the assessment was mistaken and Israel was slammed for
it, only to have the assessment's authors recant and apologize only a few
An additional such case of embarrassment took place in regards to Syrian
President Bashar Assad's usage of chemical weapons. Then head of the IDF
Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Itai Baron, repeatedly claimed the Americans
were mistaken, and that Assad had in fact used chemical weapons - and again
the Americans had to put their foot in their mouth.
It is also worth recalling the American's intelligence efforts against their
"Israeli friends", as was revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden - a
revelation which caused the US intelligence services no small amount of
embarrassment. And the latter do not forget.
All these - the attempt to prevent the release of Pollard, the attempt to
block Israel's ascension to the Visa Waiver program, and the attempt to
shame the Israeli intelligence community for its past transgressions, as
well as the possible attempt to head-butt Obama, make up the motivation
behind Newsweek's second, but no less embarrassing, report on Israel's
alleged spy efforts against the US.
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