U.S.-Israel, All in the Family?
by Arnaud de Borchgrave
London, England, Sep. 7 (UPI) -- In these history-making
times when the Laci Peterson killing got more air time than
Iran's or North Korea's (and now South Korea's) nuclear
weapons program, the convergence of domestic and foreign
interests is sometimes hard to discern. And this is where
the FBI needs a little help.
Understanding the U.S.-Israeli relationship can be
difficult if one thinks of Israel as a foreign country.
Think of Israel as the 51st state, or as an integral part
of the American body politic, and it's no longer spying, or
even influence peddling; it's family. One family member
showing a close relative a secret document, or quoting from
it over lunch, is not a prima facie case of spying. Nor can
it be called a leak. Anymore than sharing with your brother
a rival's plan to undermine the family business is a leak.
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This is the way Washington's "Likudniks" view their
relationship with the family patriarch, Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon, now 74. Sharon is not like any other head of
government in the world. He has met nine times with president
Bush. He also has close relatives in key command posts in
the Pentagon. And he can count on them to derail policies
whose linguini backbone would condemn Israel to a short
Back in 1996, the same perception led three prominent
American Likudniks to write a policy paper for then-Israeli
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu titled, "Clean Break: A
New Strategy for Securing the Realm." The "realm" is Israel.
The clean break advocated was with the Oslo peace accords.
Israel, they said, should not concede an inch of the West
Bank to the Palestinians because it has been sacred Jewish
soil from time immemorial; Saddam Hussein was to be removed
from power and the Hashemite dynasty (that ruled Iraq until
overthrown in 1958) restored; surrounding Arab autocracies
and radical regimes were also to be removed and replaced
The "White Paper" was sprinkled with references to "We in
Israel"and "Our land," written by U.S. citizens.
Netanyahu's successor, Sharon, adopted these recommendations
by three close members of his family. Their judgment
clearly would secure the realm against the machinations
of rival Semite families (the Arab families biding their
time while plotting to shorten Israel's shelf life).
Israel surrounded by pro-American democracies could look
forward to at least a generation's worth of security. The
1996 document provided the strategic underpinnings for
Operation Iraqi Freedom seven years later.
When President Bush was elected the 43rd president,
these same three Likudniks quickly found their way to key
positions in the new administration: Richard Perle became
chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a de facto Pentagon
think tank where some 30 prestigious personalities are
close friends of the family; Douglas Feith was suddenly
propelled to the No. 3 slot as Undersecretary of Defense
for Policy; and David Wurmser, principal deputy assistant
for national security in Vice President Cheney's office.
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Perle removed himself from the chairmanship of DPB over
financial irregularities of which he was subsequently
absolved. More recently, he has found himself again in
financial hot water, accused of allegedly helping
himself to $5 million from the $400 million Lord Conrad
Black, the deposed chairman of Hollinger, is accused of
looting from his own company, which owns the Jerusalem
Post. Feith is in everyone's doghouse because he stands
accused of delusions of adequacy by failing to plan Iraq's
post-war policy and to anticipate the widely predicted
insurgency. He is also the strategic brain that
recommended invading Iraq, not Afghanistan, after 9/11.
Because, as he attempted to justify his cunning strategic
ploy 2 years after 9/11, we would have caught the enemy
by surprise by attacking a country that was not involved
Oops, my mistake. The Likudniks argued all along there
was a seamless connection between Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, Baghdad, and al-Qaida. This was how Sharon and his
American family convinced president Bush his war on terror
is identical to Israel's war on terror.
Feith, who has 1,500 people working for him at the Pentagon,
was also the Likudnik whose Office of Special Plans cherry-
picked and then shaded intelligence so as to make the case
for war on Iraq.At least that is what senior folk at the
CIA and even at the Defense Intelligence Agency say, albeit
off the record.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq made the family's view
a self-fulfilling prophecy, and Iraq is now a global magnet
for wannabe Islamist terrorists. This sealed Sharon's
So what is the FBI to make of AIPAC, the American Israel
Public(Political) Affairs (Action) Committee? Arguably the most
powerful lobby in Washington, it used to be a support
group for whatever Israeli government was in power. The
perception in recent times is that its members now lean
rightward and are now part of the Likud family. In any
event, they are trusted intermediaries, and discussions
about drafts of Bush Administration positions on Iran or
anywhere else in the geopolitical neighborhood are not
considered secret even when rubber-stamped "Top Secret.
" After all, some 3,000 civil servants have the right
to stamp documents any way they want. So the most
secret stamp simply makes the document juicier for
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As the FBI has already discovered, sticking one's snout in
Likud family affairs can be injurious to one's professional
health, witness the pressure already encountered from U.S.
Attorney Paul J. McNulty whose Northern Virginia
jurisdiction handles major spy cases in Washington. The
family presumably organized the leak that punctured the
FBI's balloon as it was investigating Lawrence A. Franklin,
a mid-level official who had served twice as a reserve Air
Force colonel in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Franklin is a Farsi-speaking Likudnik whose luncheon
conversation with the Israeli Embassy's Deputy Chief of
Mission whetted the FBI's investigative appetite. But the
FBI doesn't seem to understand the difference between
Jonathan Pollard, now in his 17th year of a life sentence
for espionage, who stole secret documents by the briefcase
load for his Mossad handlers, and Franklin, a member of the
Likud family in the Pentagon, who had no secrets for his
extended family in Israel. After all, this has been standard
operating practice for almost 60 years.
P.S. for the FBI: All Likudniks are neocons, but not all
neocons are Likudniks. It would be the better part of valor
to give them a wide berth.