Analysis: Cold wind blowing from the CIA
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz Correspondent
Ha'aretz - 29 August 2004:
Before former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency head George Tenet retired, he made stinging comments on various occasions to Israeli officials in the intelligence community, especially the Mossad, saying Israel had a spy in America.
The accusation was rejected out of hand - Tenet was even loudly challenged to catch any such agent and expose him publicly. The exchange of remarks was passed on to Israel, evoking surprise at the political level over the accusations.
On Friday night, the American media revealed that an investigation was proceeding into a suspected Pentagon mole who was transmitting information to AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and from there to Israel about the White House's war plans for Iraq.
A person named Larry Franklin was mentioned, who works in the office of undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith. Between Larry Franklin and Doug Feith there are at least three levels of bureaucratic hierarchy.
AIPAC insisted last night that it heard Franklin's name for the first time on Friday when investigators came to them. They also said that AIPAC provided the authorities with documents and information that investigators had requested or asked about.
In any case, it is difficult to imagine that an organization like AIPAC, considered professional and very experienced, would get itself involved in maintaining a mole in the American security establishment.
The timing of the affair's exposure is connected with the U.S. election campaign and the struggle against the group of neoconservatives in the administration, who are accused of leading President Bush to war with Iraq.
While AIPAC claims it never heard of Larry Franklin, he is known to the Israeli intelligence community. He has appeared more than once at meetings with Israeli intelligence, especially with military intelligence, mostly in a group setting. (My emphasis)
Israel has noticed that relations between the CIA and the Mossad had begun to cool. Senior Israeli and American officials say the chill may have a number of causes. One might have been the leaking of secret material the Americans had given to Israel - for example, leaks from Israel about Libya's nuclear activity.
Another reason mentioned in the U.S. was the refusal of Mossad to pass on information on various topics to the CIA. This could not be verified by Israeli sources.
Israel, on the other hand, senses a refusal by the CIA to cooperate at a certain level on al-Qaida terrorism in East Africa, and even in their oddly ignoring an Israeli suggestion that non-conventional weapons were hidden outside Iraq. These are two issues of great interest to the U.S.
A third reason for the chill in the relationship was the claim that since Meir Dagan was appointed head of the Mossad, the personal relationship between the heads of the two intelligence services has faltered.
It should be said that while relations between the CIA and Mossad have cooled, good professional relations exist between the IDF intelligence branch and the other American intelligence services, including U.S. military intelligence.
Israeli sources knowledgable about the CIA say that unlike other American intelligence organizations, the CIA has political differences of opinion with Israel about the Arab-Israeli conflict. (My emphasis)
The CIA sees Israel as disruptive in American efforts to improve its relations with the Arabs. The CIA also argues that Israel is a bad influence on improving relations between Washington and Damascus. It's not surprising the CIA was the first to charge that Israel has an agent in the Pentagon - an accusation Israel says is entirely baseless.
Jonathan Pollard was a naval intelligence man run by an organization that belonged to the Prime Minister's Bureau until it was dismantled. After his trial a witch-hunt was launched in Washington for other Israeli agents in senior American intelligence circles, and it was a long time before things calmed down.
After the Pollard affair, Israel has made very sure that not even the slightest suspicion would arise that it is gathering information contrary to American laws. An extreme example was the claim that Israel passed on secret information to China about the Patriot missiles it bought in the U.S. For that, Israel invited an American investigative team and after great efforts, no proof was found.
Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence doggedly refused Israel's demand that it publish a retraction of the charge and that the investigation found the suspicions groundless.
The insistence came from American considerations of prestige with regard to its sources and the quality of its information. Over time, Israel came to believe one of the U.S. sources was Taiwanese intelligence, which focuses closely on China.