US spies on Israel (shock, horror)
September 7, 2011 7 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Ever since Monday, when The New York Times exposed the reason behind the May 2010 incarceration of FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, US and international media have been buzzing with prominent headlines like: “US government spied on Israel’s Washington embassy”. Although these headlines are accurate, they —like the articles themselves— miss the actual story behind the revelations: namely the extent of Israeli covert propaganda operations inside the United States. As intelNews reported in May 2010, Leibowitz, a lawyer with dual American-Israeli citizenship, who worked as a translator for the FBI, was sentenced to right under two years in prison, for leaking classified information. The government disclosed no further information at the time of Leibowitz’s conviction, saying only that he had been jailed for “having unlawfully disclosed classified documents to an unidentified blogger”. Now the “unidentified blogger” has come forward to reveal the details of Leibowitz’s court case, and to defend the former FBI linguist “as an American patriot and a whistle-blower”. Richard Silverstein, a Jewish American scholar, who writes a blog called Tikun Olam, said that Leibowitz gave him about 200 pages containing transcripts of conversations intercepted by the FBI in its monitoring of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. Most of the transcripts contain what appear to be telephone exchanges between staff at the Israeli embassy and outside contacts, though some appear to be the products of eavesdropping of face-to-face conversations conducted inside the Israeli embassy premises. This may be seen as evidence that the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, which is responsible for maintaining interception systems targeting foreign embassies on US soil, conducts extensive monitoring of the goings on at the Israeli embassy.
But knowledgeable intelligence observers will be hardly surprised by this ‘revelation’. Indeed, why wouldn’t the US intelligence community spy on the Middle East’s only nuclear power, and a country which engages in aggressive intelligence collection operations against the United States? What is perhaps more suspicious, is that media outlets are systematically downplaying the very reason why Silverstein chose to come forward with the information. According to the Seattle-based blogger, Leibowitz was “acting out of noble motives”, namely out of “concerns about Israel’s aggressive efforts to influence Congress and public opinion, and fears that Israel might strike nuclear facilities in Iran, a move he saw as potentially disastrous”. An incredulous Silverstein spoke at a forum in his hometown of Seattle on Tuesday, in which he repeated that the “real story” behind his revelations was “buried in yesterday’s New York Times piece”. Sure, US counterintelligence spies on the Israeli embassy in DC. But “what’s more important”, he said, “is what the US spying actually uncovered. What is more shocking”, he continued, “is how the transcripts shed light on the aggressive opinion-shaping activities of the Israeli government and its ultimate goal: war with Iran [...]. They target key opinion shapers and key players in society and use long-term plans to sponsor conferences, ghost-author op-ed pieces, and jawbone members of congress. All together is this image that they really want America to go to war with Iran, or OK Israel going to war with Iran”. The FBI, US Justice Department, and the Israeli embassy have all refused comment on the revelations.