“Friends don’t spy on Friends!”
What to make of the “news” disclosed by those ubiquitous “un-named” bureaucrats that Israel tracks CIA spying activities inside Israel; that Israel’s highly-regarded Mossad amateurishly left a bugging device obviously planted in a telephone, or reshuffled the food in the CIA station chiefs refrigerator? The real irony is the purported injured feeling of the American spy agency at being violated so. According to the same Associated Press report, Israel is part of the second tier intelligence relationship with the US, just below England and Canada, called, “Friends on Friend.”
“It comes from the phrase ‘Friends don’t spy on friends,’ and the arrangement dates back decades. But Israel’s foreign intelligence service, the Mossad, and its FBI equivalent, the Shin Bet, both considered among the best in the world, have been suspected of recruiting U.S. officials and trying to steal American secrets.”
Implied by those un-named “CIA sources” in the AP article is that as a “friend,” Israel violated her credulous ally’s trust, Pollard redux! Which, of course, raises the question (not Pollard, at this time) of American innocence in the matter of spying on Israel. After all, is that CIA station chiefs job in Israel to read the press and pass on secrets garnered from the media to Langley? America’s ambassador has plenty of staff for that purpose. According to another report the purpose of the AP “disclosure was,
“To hit back at the Israel watchers dogging the footsteps of CIA agents planted in a widely-flung undercover network for picking up any clues that Israeli preparations for a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear program are moving into operational phase.”
Put another way, the CIA spies on Israel.
But the US doesn’t only use American agents in its spying operations in Israel. Headline from a 3 June, 1993 Washington Post article, Israel Says Army Major Was a Spy.
“Israel acknowledged for the first time today that a major in army intelligence was secretly tried and convicted in 1987 on charges of spying and having contacts with a foreign agent. Israeli sources said the officer was accused of providing information to the United States.”
In other words at the same time the US was crying foul over American intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, an American spy for Israel, the US was running its own Israeli spy, IDF Maj. Yosef Amit. The arrest of Amit was kept quiet for six years because Israel was apparently trying to get the US to trade Pollard for Amit. Clearly the US was more interested in keeping its PR asset that demonstrating loyalty it its own captive spy.
In a 19 April, 1994 article appearing in the Chicago Tribune, A Clash Of Cultures In The Spy Game, Yossi Melman and Dan Ravivwrote,
“A few months after Pollard’s arrest in November 1985, Rabin – then the defense minister – told a small group of Israeli journalists, over cocktails, ‘I don’t understand why the Americans are making such a big fuss. After all, they’re spying on us, too.”
Melman and Raviv, whistleblowers on Israeli espionage activities, continued, “In the years to follow we learned of several cases in which Americans in Israel had been caught gathering secrets.”
Enough for the cuckolded lover pose! “Friends do spy on Friends.” Because regardless how close “friends” are there are always differences; and the hesitancy of the United States to accept responsibility for protecting its own national interests regarding the Iranian bomb is a case in point. Hesitation in Syria, Iran’s outpost flanking the Arabian Peninsula Arab oil monarchies; threatening Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, is another such example.
As regards the AP reporting that, “U.S. national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat.” I, for one, should hope so! Let’s take a quick tour of CIA “success” beginning with the strangely absent WMD which Director Tenet assured the American people was a “slam dunk” excuse to invade Iraq. And when George W. needed a reason not to attack Iran’s nuclear project as he had been warning for so many years, at a time when nearly every intelligence service around the world warned that Iran was intent on building the bomb, the US intelligence community concluded in its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that the ayatollahs had abandoned their long-sought dream of an atomic bomb program in 2003!
The competence of American intelligence can also be measured by decisions of Bush and Obama as president. In 2004-5 George Bush insisted still armed Hamas be included in Palestinian elections. Israeli and Palestinian intelligence warned that Hamas would win, but Bush insisted. Hamas one, was then isolated in Gaza. Not a good loser, Bush then supported a coup against Hamas, and lost that one also, resulting in two “Palestines,” and the end to any possibility of a “roadmap” to a two-state solution.
When Israel and the Saudis warned Obama against supporting the overthrow of Mubarak, that he would be replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood, in the president’s eyes Tarir meant democracy, the same excuse Bush used to invade Iraq (when wmd failed to hold up). And as to the Iranian threat, both US presidents, obviously depending on their intelligence services, have managed to avoid even making the open threat of military action. After all, the NIE may have been wrong in 2007 (the 2011 NIE equivocates, but still seems to stand behind that earlier analysis), no wonder Israel and the US differ, are tripping over each other.
On the other hand, unlike the Saudis or Israel, if the NIE is wrong and the Iranians are as close to “breakout” as Israeli and Saudi intelligence say… well after all, the US safely eight thousand miles away.
Why rush to judgment?