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August 27, 2004
NYT: Alleged Israeli Spy No Influence On American Policy

When CBS broke the news earlier this evening that the FBI had investigated a high-ranking assistant in the Defense Department on suspicion of espionage on behalf of Israel, the immediate suspicion was that Israel may have unduly influenced American security policy in the Middle East, especially Iraq. Later revelations that the suspect worked as a staffer with contacts to Paul Wolfowitz and other so-called neocons seemed to reinforce that notion. However, the New York Times now reports that the staffer was a desk officer working in Douglas Feith's office and had no influence on policy development:

The espionage investigation has focused on an official who works in the office of Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, officials who have been briefed about the investigation said. The F.B.I. has gathered evidence that the official passed classified policy documents to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israeli lobbying group, which in turn provided the information to Israeli intelligence, the officials said. ...

In a statement released Friday night, the Pentagon said that the Department of Defense "has been cooperating fully with the Department of Justice on this matter for an extended period of time."

"The investigation involves a single individual at D.O.D. at the desk officer level, who was not in a position to have significant influence over U.S. policy," the statement continued. "Nor could a foreign power be in a position to influence U.S. policy through this individual. To the best of D.O.D.'s knowledge, the investigation does not target any other D.O.D. individuals.''

One United States official said that he did not know why the desk officer would have passed on the information and that he could not assess the potential damage. "He had a certain expertise and had access to things, but he wasn't a policymaker," the official said.

Such reports won't quell the anti-Semitic rants of the lunatic fringe, such as independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who has spewed his venom regarding the insidious nature of Israel's control over successive US administrations. (Curiously, the American government is supposedly 'owned' by Israel and Saudi Arabia simultaneously. No wonder nothing ever gets done around here.) Since the Times' James Risen indicates the material accessed regards Iran and the threat assessments of the Islamicist regime, it seems safer to assume that (if true) the Israelis wanted to get classified information that the US had developed to shape Israeli policy and military preparedness, not influence American policy.

Has anyone mentioned Jonathan Pollard lately? I rather doubt that, if this turns out to be true, that Pollard will get any leniency from this administration. Bush likely won't take kindly to both the espionage and the incompetence used to employ it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 27, 2004 11:47 PM

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With the impending nuclear plant in Iran, it is possible that Israel wanted to know what the exact stance the United States has on this issue as Israel would probably be the first country struck with a nuclear device if and when Iran developes one. [Read More]

Tracked on August 28, 2004 12:53 AM

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