A Brief History of Israeli Spying in the US


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by James Corbett
April 10, 2012

The salacious story of the media-dubbed "sexy spy" Anna Chapman is back in the news after a bogus story was circulated last week claiming the FBI had made the decision to swoop in on Chapman's Russian spy ring in 2010 because the flame-haired beauty had gotten to close to an Obama cabinet member.

In reality, the report was based on an interview with an FBI official, Frank Figiluzzi, whose comments were taken out of context and distorted. The spy the FBI was confirmed with was not the modelesque Chapman but the less photogenic Cynthia Murphy, and "getting too close" referred to Murphy's role as a financial advisor to a Hilary Clinton fundraiser.

Still, the press were happy to use the excuse to plaster Chapman's face on the nightly news and ran with the story before seeking clarification. Such was the level of interest in the story that one could be forgiven for believing the establishment media had discovered a newfound zeal for covering the topic of foreign countries spying in the United States.

Odd, then, that veteran NSA-watcher and bestselling journalist James Bamford's recent interview on the Boiling Frogs Podcast regarding the outsourcing of NSA wiretapping to private companies didn't get more media attention.

The knowledge that Israeli-connected companies and intelligence agents have been involved in detailed and elaborate spying operations in the US is of course nothing new. The phenomenon has been painstakingly documented over the years by numerous journalists and sources. Indeed, the documented cases of Israeli spying on their supposed ally -- the self-same American government that is supplying it with $3 billion in grants each year -- are nearly too numerous to document.

Perhaps the best known case of Israeli spying in the US is that of Jonathan Pollard. A civilian analyst in naval intelligence, Pollard had access to thousands of secret documents that he passed to Israel. Until 1998, Israel denied that it had any direct contact with Pollard, but in May of that year Benjamin Netanyahu admitted Pollard was an intelligence source who was being handled by the Israeli Bureau for Scientific Relations. Since then, the Israeli government has lobbied extensively for Pollard to be released from prison in North Carolina, where he is currently serving a life sentence with an expected release date of 2015.

Far more than Pollard, though, Israeli spying spans a number of decades and into the heart of the most sensitive data and material in the American government.

In the late 1960s Zalman Shapiro, a prominent member of the Zionist Organization of America, was placed under investigation for passing highly-enriched uranium to Israel. Shapiro founded the nuclear fuel plant at Apollo, Pennsylvania, and enough uranium was believed to have been smuggled from the plant to create Israel's first dozen nuclear bombs. The CIA Tel Aviv station chief has said that the plant was "an Israeli operation from the beginning" but all FOIA requests for the extensive CIA files on the operation are being rejected, presumably because it would mean the US would have to give up its long-held policy of "nuclear ambiguity" and admit the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons.

In 1985 Richard Kelly Smyth, a physicist and businessman who had contracted with NATO and NASA was arrested for illegally passing 15 shipments of nuclear triggering devices to the Israeli government via an Israeli trading company. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison but was immediately eligible for parole because he was 72 years old at the time of his sentencing.

In 1993 a massive ADL-led spying operation was busted targeting numerous institutions and individuals, including the NAACP and even the San Francisco police. The data was being passed to Israel, and in some cases South Africa. The city dropped criminal prosecution of the case after lobbying from local Jewish organizations, but the ADL was forced to settle a civil lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed sum.

In 1996 it was revealed that the Office of Naval Intelligence had confirmed that "US technology has been acquired [by China] through Israel in the form of the Lavi fighter and possibly SAM [surface-to-air] missile technology." According to the report, this technology transfer "represents a dramatic step forward for Chinese military aviation."

There are many such stories of spying and espionage relating to Israel, but by far the most revealing centre around 9/11. The so-called dancing Israelis were not only promptly allowed to leave the US without charges, they were even featured on Israeli television as folk heroes who talked openly about how they had been sent to America specifically to document the 9/11 attacks.

In an even more explosive series of reports for Fox News, reporter Carl Cameron began a series of reports detailing an ongoing and extensive investigation into Israeli persons of interest in the 9/11 case. The report detailed striking facts about how two Israeli-owned companies were suspected of supplying Israeli intelligence with vast reams of data about the American phone systems, as well as providing Israeli agents with warnings when they were under investigation by US authorities.

Given this lengthy and detailed history of Israeli spying in the US, why then is so much attention showered on stories like that of Anna Chapman and the Russian spy ring, while these Israeli spying stories are reported furtively, if at all, and quickly shoved down the memory hole. The answer to this question, too, has been revealed in various ways over the years.

Of course, spying between countries that are nominally allies is in itself nothing new. US spies themselves have been caught up in numerous scandals over the years, including the infamous UN spying scandal that was revealed in 2010.

But when a country like Israel -- a supposed "friend" of the United States and a nation for whose billions of dollars in economic and military aid the American taxpayers foot the bill -- turns out to be the nation that is most deeply involved in spying operations in the US, and even controls much of the technology and financial infrastructure which the US uses to spy (unconstitutionally) on its own citizenry, the American people have a duty not merely to be puzzled but actively outraged at the government and media's complicity in keeping this information from the public.

Congress will not, of course, change its tune overnight and suddenly start holding accountable the nation which has so long bragged of its influence over them. Nor will the media suddenly start fear mongering about the nuclear-armed espionage-conducting menace to American security that is Israel. Instead, as always, the American public, and indeed the people of all the countries around the world who are similarly dealing with Israel's spying activities, to inform themselves of the true history of these operations and to spread this knowledge to others.

After all, the only alternative is to hope for an Anna Chapman-esque photogenic Mossad agent is apprehended on US soil so that the establishment press will have no choice but to cover the story in an attempt to bolster their plunging ratings.

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