CIA chief paid secret visit to Israel ahead of Iran nuclear deal

John BrennanThe director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency visited Israel in secret last week to discuss the Jewish state’s refusal to endorse an emerging deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Citing “two senior Israeli officials”, the Tel Aviv-based Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on Tuesday that CIA Director John Brennan arrived in Israel last Thursday. Although he was officially hosted by Tamir Pardo, director of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, Brennan used the opportunity to hold secret meetings with several senior Israeli officials, said Haaretz. Among them were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, as well as Major General Hartzl Halevi, who heads Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate.

According to Haaretz, Brennan’s visit to Israel had been planned “long ahead of time”, and should not be interpreted as a sudden diplomatic move from Washington. However, it came just weeks ahead of a deadline for a far-reaching settlement next month between Iran and six world powers over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. If successful, the much-heralded deal will mark the conclusion of ongoing negotiations between the Islamic Republic and a group of nations that have come to be known as P5+1, representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Israel, however, has strongly criticized the negotiations, referred to as ‘the Geneva pact’. Last year, the Israeli Prime Minister called the pact a “historic mistake” that would enable “the most dangerous regime in the world” to get closer to “attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world”.

It is not known whether Brennan brought with him a message from US President Barack Obama addressed to the Israeli Prime Minister, said Haaretz. On Monday, just 72 hours after Brennan’s departure, another senior American official landed in Tel Aviv —openly this time. It was General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was hosted by his Israeli counterpart, General Gadi Eisenkot. Like Brennan before him, General Dempsey met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon. Haaretz contacted the CIA about Brennan’s secret visit to Israel, but an Agency spokesperson refused to comment.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 June 2015 | Permalink: https://intelnews.org/2015/06/10/01-1712/

US Secretary of Defense ‘not aware’ of Israel spying on America

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.orgChuck Hagel, Barack Obama, John Brennan
The supreme official of the United States Department of Defense has said he is “unaware of the facts” behind recent media reports that Israel is aggressively spying on America. Chuck Hagel, a former Republican Senator who assumed the leadership of the Pentagon in 2013, is on a three-day official visit to Israel, where he is scheduled to hold meetings with Israeli military and security officials. He was responding to a question posed by an Israeli reporter about allegations, made by American newsmagazine Newsweek on Tuesday, that Israel’s spies “have gone too far” in targeting American interests. In an article published in Newsweek last week, veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein quoted Congressional staffers as saying that America’s Jewish allies had “crossed red lines” in their efforts to steal secrets from the United States. According to Stein, that was reportedly relayed to US lawmakers in classified briefings on Capitol Hill by officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, as well as the National Counterintelligence Directorate. In a subsequent piece, Stein revealed that Israeli intelligence tried to spy on US Vice President Al Gore during an official state visit to Jerusalem 16 years ago. The effort was allegedly aborted after a US Secret Service agent caught an Israeli spy trying to enter the Vice President’s hotel room through a ceiling vent. But American officials have so far remained silent on the matter. When asked about it a press conference in Tel Aviv, Hagel said he had “heard of the report” but was “not aware of any facts that would substantiate the report”. He was standing beside Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Yaalon, who also responded to the journalist’s question by reminding his audience that he served as Director of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate in the late 1990s. In that capacity, he said, he was “not allowed to spy in the United States whatsoever”. Read more of this post