Sunday, September 05, 2004

Espionage from Israel to be or not to be?

Hamodia-In the latest developements of the year long FBI probe into Larry Franklin, it seems unlikely that he will be charged with espionage. News reports said that Franklin, a pentagon official, provided AIPAC (AMERCIAN ISRAEL PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITEE) staffers with
classified information regarding a presedential directive on Iran. Conversations between lobbyists and officials are routine, and officials state that the line between what is considered classified and non-classfied material can be murky at times. An american source stated that " he was irresponsible probably in mishandling classified information. That doesn't mean he was spying for Israel." Nevertheless, the news reports are having a damaging impacton the Jewish American community and perceptions of the U.S. Israel relationship.

Haaretz reports:
The Washington Post said the FBI asked the administration officials about Israeli embassy officials in Washington who allegedly held contacts with administration officials to procure secret information. So far, only the name of Naor Gilon, the political adviser in the embassy, was mentioned as involved in the affair.The L.A. Times reported on Friday that the American administration does not believe Israel's contention that it does not spy on America and that U.S. government officials say Israel secretly maintains a large and active intelligence-gathering operation in the U.S.The officials said the FBI and other bodies spy on Israeli diplomats in Washington and New York as a matter of routine. The report said that Israel has long attempted to recruit U.S. officials as spies and to procure classified documents, according to the Times.Israel said it set a policy of not spying on the United States after Jonathan Pollard's arrest in November 1985 and the damage it did to bilateral relations in general and to intelligence and security ties in particular. For 20 years, Israel said, that policy has translated into unequivocal directives to the intelligence and defense communities: They are not allowed to locate candidates for recruiting as agents, cannot recruit and operate agents, nor pay for information.