16 May 2014

Israel Deploys Three Proven Tactics to Blunt U.S. Backlash over Spying

*This well researched article, with links, from Institute for Research:  Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) is posted with permission.  Supplemental information is available in the form of transcripts, videos and audio files for the National Summit to Reassess the U.S. - Israel "Special Relationship" held in Washington, DC - 7 March 2014 8AM-5PM at the National Press Club.

Israel Deploys Three Proven Tactics to Blunt U.S. Backlash over Spying

Money, rushed state visits and accusations of anti-Semitism may not be enough to save proposed visa waivers

By Grant F. Smith, Director of Research, IRmep

Newsweek reporter Jeff Stein's "double-tap" exposé of Israeli espionage in the United States has put Israel and its American lobby on red alert.  Stein's initial salvo "Israel Won't Stop Spying on the U.S." generated howls of outrage over veteran CIA analyst Paul Pillar's accurate assessment that Zionists had been sending spies to appropriate U.S. resources and weapons even before the state was founded.  Pressed for details, Stein's second piece "Israel's Aggressive Spying in the US Mostly Hushed Up" exposed a bumbling Israeli spy's unsuccessful attempt to enter Al Gore's hotel room through an air duct.  According to Stein, the dwindling number of U.S. criminal prosecutions is because the FBI has been directed by the Justice Department to privately chastise, but not expose, Israel's spy networks.  The most recent criminal espionage prosecution, that of former NASA official Stewart Nozette,  carefully sealed off his handlers at Israel Aerospace Industries from any consequences.  Nozette had received $225,000 and admitted to passing secrets to Israel, but rather than go after his paymasters, the FBI set up an elaborate sting operation.  According to Stein, other American counterintelligence officials felt instant push-back whenever they tried to warn U.S. elected officials about Israeli espionage.

The new spying allegations come at an inconvenient time since Israel and its U.S. lobby have been ramping up efforts to obtain visa-free Israeli entry to the United States.  Israel's poor record of visa overstays, thousands of young people entering under tourist visas to work in the U.S. and the growing espionage flap appear to make Israel unlikely to enter the visa waiver program any time soon.  But three strategies have proven extremely successful in the past for dampening fallout.  Flood American influencers with cash, send in Israeli government officials to quietly lobby key policymakers and charge opponents with anti-Semitism.

In the early days of weapons smuggling, Israel's spies relied on the ageless tactic of "spreading money around" to keep criminal cases out of court whenever spies were caught.  In 1947, American members of the vast Jewish Agency/Haganah smuggling ring "assembled a war chest" of funds to keep "70 potential indictments in Los Angeles" over weapons smuggling to Jewish fighters in Palestine from going to court.  Assembling and carefully disbursing such funds in coordination with the Israeli government worked well in those days and appears to be working just as well today, though the conduits have changed. The Los Angeles Police Department Foundation's decision to host a fundraising gala (PDF) on May 10, 2014 to honor—of all people—Israeli movie producer Arnon Milchan—is the latest version of the strategy.

In 2012 the FBI released compelling files of Milchan's involvement smuggling nuclear weapons technology from the United States in league with  Benjamin Netanyahu and California engineer Richard Kelly Smyth. Milchan confessed to much of his criminal past as a smuggler during an Israeli television interview on November 25, 2013.  This confession and declassified documents formed the basis of a public complaint (PDF) to U.S. agency heads calling for his deportation over flouting the Foreign Agents Registration Act and for visa fraud.  By engineering a fundraiser and LAPD award in his honor, the Los Angeles Police Department Foundation appears to be trying to buy the public appearance that all is well.  After all, if the metropolitan police department approves of Milchan, doesn't that prove he's an upstanding member of the community? Perhaps not.

The organization behind the award, the Los Angeles Police Department Foundation core leadership Cecilia and Jeffrey Glassman are longtime Israel advocates.  LAPDF has sent police department personnel to Israel (PDF) for training in addition to building up the endowment of cash it provides to the police department for high tech gadgets taxpayers won't fund.  These efforts to protect Milchan and change the subject are more refined than in the 1940's.  According to FBI files declassified last year, another western state media mogul—Herman "Hank" Greenspun—simply traveled to Washington, DC offering $25,000 in cash to any U.S. government official who would help quash pending felony arms export control indictments against him for stealing .50 calibre machine guns from the U.S. Marines and shipping fighter plane engines to Israel under false papers.  Cash to quash also operates at much higher levels.

During the same week the LAPDF was honoring Milchan, President Obama spent hours at Hollywood political fundraisers including one hosted by producer Steven Spielberg.  During the final days of the George W. Bush administration, Spielberg successfully led lobbying for a special posthumous presidential pardon for Charles Winters.  Winters, who illegally smuggled B-17 bombers from the U.S. to Israel, was the only one of the Jewish Agency / Haganah era smugglers convicted of a felony to actually serve prison time.  What demands the billionaire movie mogul might now be making on Obama in the name of Israeli spies Ben Ami-Kadish, Stewart Nozette, Jonathan Pollard, or Arnon Milchan remain to be seen.

Another tried and true method to protect intelligence assets and operations is to send Israeli officials to the U.S. to visit key policymakers and beg leniency.  Senator Diane Feinstein, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair, has agreed to an  urgent meeting with Israeli intelligence portfolio minister Yuval Steinitz.  Efforts to "quietly" calm the waters behind closed doors is Israel's standard practice. When caught red-handed in the 1990's with classified U.S. government information obtained during ADL joint operations with Israeli and apartheid-era South African intelligence services, the Anti-Defamation League called in Israeli heavyweights to lobby the U.S. Attorney General to stop the FBI's espionage investigation of the ADL, according to FBI files declassified late in 2013. Such files detailing corrupt deals forged in the dark are rarely released, but not for lack of public curiosity.  Such a long line (PDF) of Freedom of Information Act requests has formed for the FBI's secret file on Israel's recently deceased spy Marc Rich (pardoned of a felony by president Bill Clinton at Eric Holder's recommendation) that if it is ever released, reporters and public watch dogs will have to download it from the FBI's "vault" website rather than burden the FBI for multiple paper copies or files on CD.

Always part of the reaction matrix to allegations or reporting on Israeli spying are immediate counter-charges of anti-Semitism.  Smearing the FBI as anti-Semitic was among the first "rapid response" strategies developed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's Steven J. Rosen after he was indicted for espionage alongside Keith Weissman and Colonel Lawrence Franklin in 2005.  The AIPAC duo had passed classified information to Israel and the Washington Post in a bid to foment U.S. attacks on Iran.  Rosen's internal AIPAC response strategy paper (PDF) called for accusing the FBI "targeted Jews" and of "religious discrimination."  AIPAC and Israel activists were later somehow able to get the Obama administration to abandon the extremely tight criminal prosecution shortly after entering office.

Whether the proven—but difficult to hide—tactics of Israel and its U.S. lobby will continue to produce results remain to be seen.  As more Americans come to see the cost and endemic corruption underpinning the so-called "special relationship," Israel and its lobby may find that payoffs, rushed state visits, and smears to quash fallout may no longer work in the Internet era.

Held in Washington, DC - March 7, 2014 8AM-5PM at the National Press Club

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10 May 2014

Did Poverty Drive Extremist Kidnapping in Nigeria?

Someone on a news program today said that poverty drives extremism.  It was in reference to the kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria.   But the comment didn't quite ring true with me, because it is  a common misconception that being poor drives poor people to be unethical, thus to lives of crime   Unfortunately that misconception translates into a societal attitude of "being poor is a crime".  But it doesn't end there.  Said attitude drives a polarity that creates haves and have-nots, deserving and undeserving, with the enabling vehicle being every conceivable prejudice a group of like minded individuals can choose to share as reason to create exclusive organizations and institutions rather than inclusive ones.   In reality,  it is more probable that poverty is less likely to lead to crime than is the luxury of being greedy.  Greed is a weakness of human nature.  But choosing to be a person who makes a habit of rising above greed is a strength of human nature.

Consider that women, and children (both boys and girls), and men - none of whom would not choose to sell themselves - are kidnapped, extorted, manipulated, and/or sold everyday, everywhere, against their wills, into servitude, marriage, or worse.  As vile and shameful as it is, it is also nothing new or unusual.  Shining a light is the first step to working together to put an end to it.

Too often it is the people closest to the victims, their families, who do the selling - and/or collaborating and enabling of it, sometimes unknowingly but too often knowing full well what they are enabling.  Why?  It is assumed the desperation  of poverty is what motivates crime and terror, as the news report suggested.   But too often it is, instead, what has become a societal desperation of greed that motivates - the greed of someone in the family or someone close to the victim; or perhaps such a person is an enabler of the nefarious deeds because of having been extorted and/or manipulated by the greed of another.

Ask anyone "Do you have enough money to afford your necessities?", and the answer will almost always be "no" because people will always live up to the amount of their incoming funds, and want more to enable the lives they envision living - no matter what their amount of income and buying power.   To want more is one thing, but to lust after more is another - it becomes  greed.  Rich, poor, in-between . . . no one is exempt from the temptation of greed.  And no one is exempt from choosing to avoid that temptation.  It is  not necessary for anyone's funds to become more limited  in order for greed to set in and develop because of a feeling of deprivation.  In fact it is not unusual that the more income increases over the years, the more entitled some people feel to be greedy and unethical about wanting to further increase income and buying power . . .  by any means possible.  Thus prejudices develop and crimes are committed.

In an effort to be creative about the means of successfully pursuing what greed wants, prejudices develop towards whomever greed imagines it can manipulate in it's efforts to acquire more.  And acquiring more is  at the cost of depriving others at whom prejudices are directed.; prejudices that lead the greedy to feel like better people, thus leading them to a feeling of being entitled to be greedy . . .  and prejudiced.

Clearly greed spawns some serious circular thinking - the torque of greed that the greedy go through in an effort to justify the nefarious intents and choices of greed - a real vicious circle spin intended to create confusion and pass unwarranted blame.   Creating confusion and passing unwarranted blame is the pitiful "glory" of the power of greed - the greed for power, buying power, political power, and/or otherwise. 

Still, as has always been the case, there are only two types of people, only two ways in which people can be defined:  1) the unethical 2) the ethical.  And the difference?  It is not about "right" and "wrong", and it's sure not about political "left" and "right", nor conservative and liberal thinking.   It is not about political ideologies.  It is about why we do what we do and how we do it.  Our motives, our intentions, and our actions either deprive and harm others or they do not; that is, they are either unethical or they are ethical.  Greed is never a valid reason to be unethical, yet it is ordinarily the motive behind unethical choices and actions.

We usually refer to unethical nefarious actions as being criminal when it is an individual, and as terrorism when it is institutionalized (crimes enabled by formal or informal groups, corporations,  governments, or nations). Needless to say, a person, corporation, government, or nation that blames personal or institutionalized nefarious choices and behaviors on religion or any other ethical belief system, is unethical.  
Whenever anyone makes a decision he or she has the power to choose to do no harm - has the power to choose to not allow personal greed to manipulate situations in unwarranted ways that are designed to force others to make damaging sacrifices they are unable and unwilling to make.  A group of people, collectively, also has the power to make that choice.

As for me, I can not rationalize away the terrorism of selling the temple of anyone's soul by claiming "poverty made them do it".   Those who organize a rabble of people (a number of people without a lot of money, power, or social status) into a militant, violent, terrorist gang are neither bourgeoisie, poor, nor apolitical, but they are greedy.  Bet on it.