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Iraq was invaded to protect Israel - U.S. official

MIDDLEEAST.ORG

ISRAELGATE:

ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH NEOCONS LIED AND
PUSHED AND SPIED TO
BRING ABOUT IRAQ INVASION

"Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against
us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been
since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel... And this is the threat that
dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about
that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't
want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell."
Pentagon Defense Intelligence Board
Member Philip Zeikow, 10 September 2002

"Israel secretly maintains a large and active intelligence-
gathering operation in the United States that has long
attempted to recruit U.S. officials as spies and to procure
classified documents, U.S. government officials said."
Los Angeles Times,
3 September 2004

MER - Mid-East Realities - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 4 Sept 04:
Richard Perle, the Israeli-connected top neocon forced to resign as head of the Defense
Intelligence Board who just in recent days has been publicly accused of gross multi-million dollar looting of a major corporation, brought Philip Zelikow onto the Defense Intelligence Board of which he was Chairman shortly after the Bush/Cheney takeover in Washington.

Down the road the White House and the Republican Congressional leadership made the same Philip Zelikow Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, which has since been quite accurately accused of mostly covering up government failings and actual policies.

But one year after 9/11, while speaking extemporaneously at a university forum, Mr. Zelikow partially let the cat out of the bag when he actually admitted that the major reason the U.S. was going to invade Iraq was in order to protect Israel. Now the Vice-President himself was reported to have said much the same during a visit to Israel earlier that same year -- and MER reported this at the time -- but there was no actual recording of those secretive meetings in Israel.

Now that the new Israeli spy scandal has broken into public view, the top-level connections between the Jewish neocons at the Pentagon and the National Security Council -- among them Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Elliott Abrams -- the following and associated stories first published earlier this year deserve much more than a second look. They should in fact be the basis for a full-fledged journalistic investigation into what could yet be called ISRAELGATE.



Iraq was invaded 'to protect Israel' - US official
By Emad Mekay

Asia Times - 3/31/2004 - Washington: Iraq under Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States, but it did to Israel, which is one reason why Washington invaded the Arab country, according to a speech made by a member of a top-level White House intelligence group.

Inter Press Service uncovered the remarks by Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the terrorist attacks on the US in September 2001 - the 9/11 commission - in which he suggests a prime motive for the invasion just over one year ago was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch US ally in the Middle East.

Zelikow's casting of the attack on Iraq as one launched to protect Israel appears at odds with the public position of US President George W Bush and his administration, which has never overtly drawn the link between its war on the regime of Saddam and its concern for Israel's security.

The administration has instead insisted it launched the war to liberate the Iraqi people, destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to protect the United States.

Zelikow made his statements about "the unstated threat" during his tenure on a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president. He served on the board between 2001 and 2003.

"Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel," Zelikow told a crowd at the University of Virginia on September 10, 2002, speaking on a panel of foreign policy experts assessing the impact of September 11 and the future of the war on al-Qaeda.

"And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell," said Zelikow.

The statements are the first to surface from a source closely linked to the Bush administration acknowledging that the war, which has so far cost the lives of nearly 600 US troops and thousands of Iraqis, was motivated by Washington's desire to defend the Jewish state.

The administration, which is surrounded by staunch pro-Israel, neo-conservative hawks, is currently fighting an extensive campaign to ward off accusations that it derailed the "war on terrorism" it launched after September 11 by taking a detour to Iraq, which appears to have posed no direct threat to the US.

Israel is Washington's biggest ally in the Middle East, receiving annual direct aid of US$3-4 billion.

Even though members of the 16-person PFIAB come from outside government, they enjoy the confidence of the president and have access to all information related to foreign intelligence that they need to play their vital advisory role. Known in intelligence circles as "Piffy-ab", the board is supposed to evaluate the nation's intelligence agencies and probe any mistakes they make. The unpaid appointees on the board require a security clearance known as "code word" that is higher than top secret.

The national security adviser to former president George H W Bush (1989-93) Brent Scowcroft, currently chairs the board in its work overseeing a number of intelligence bodies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the various military intelligence groups and the Pentagon's National Reconnaissance Office.

Neither Scowcroft nor Zelikow returned numerous phone calls and e-mail messages from IPS for this story.

Zelikow has long-established ties to the Bush administration. Before his appointment to PFIAB in October 2001, he was part of the current president's transition team in January 2001. In that capacity, Zelikow drafted a memo for National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on reorganizing and restructuring the National Security Council (NSC) and prioritizing its work.

Richard A Clarke, who was counter-terrorism coordinator for Bush's predecessor president Bill Clinton (1993-2001) also worked for Bush senior, and has recently accused the current administration of not heeding his terrorism warnings. Clarke said that Zelikow was among those he briefed about the urgent threat from al-Qaeda in December 2000.

Rice herself had served in the NSC during the first Bush administration, and subsequently teamed up with Zelikow on a 1995 book about the unification of Germany.

Zelikow had ties with another senior Bush administration official - Robert Zoellick, the current trade representative. The two wrote three books together, including one in 1998 on the United States and the Muslim Middle East.

Aside from his position on the 9/11 commission, Zelikow is now also director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs and White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia. His close ties to the administration prompted accusations of a conflict of interest in 2002 from families of victims of the September attacks, who protested his appointment to the investigative body.

In his university speech, Zelikow, who strongly backed attacking the Iraqi dictator, also explained the threat to Israel by arguing that Baghdad was preparing in 1990-91 to spend huge amounts of "scarce hard currency" to harness "communications against electromagnetic pulse", a side-effect of a nuclear explosion that could sever radio, electronic and electrical communications.

That was "a perfectly absurd expenditure unless you were going to ride out a nuclear exchange - they [Iraqi officials] were not preparing to ride out a nuclear exchange with us. Those were preparations to ride out a nuclear exchange with the Israelis," according to Zelikow.
He also suggested that the danger of biological weapons falling into the hands of the anti-Israeli Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its Arabic acronym Hamas, would threaten Israel rather than the US, and that those weapons could have been developed to the point where they could deter Washington from attacking Hamas.

"Play out those scenarios," he told his audience, "and I will tell you, people have thought about that, but they are just not talking very much about it".

"Don't look at the links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, but then ask yourself the question, 'gee, is Iraq tied to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the people who are carrying out suicide bombings in Israel?' Easy question to answer; the evidence is abundant."

To date, the possibility of the US attacking Iraq to protect Israel has been only timidly raised by some intellectuals and writers, with few public acknowledgements from sources close to the administration. Analysts who reviewed Zelikow's statements said that they are concrete evidence of one factor in the rationale for going to war, which has been hushed up.

"Those of us speaking about it sort of routinely referred to the protection of Israel as a component," said Phyllis Bennis of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies. "But this is a very good piece of evidence of that."

Others say that the administration should be blamed for not making known to the public its true intentions and real motives for invading Iraq. "They [the administration] made a decision to invade Iraq, and then started to search for a policy to justify it. It was a decision in search of a policy and because of the odd way they went about it, people are trying to read something into it," said Nathan Brown, professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert on the Middle East.

But he downplayed the Israel link. "In terms of securing Israel, it doesn't make sense to me because the Israelis are probably more concerned about Iran than they were about Iraq in terms of the long-term strategic threat," he said.

Still, Brown says that Zelikow's words carried weight. "Certainly his position would allow him to speak with a little bit more expertise about the thinking of the Bush administration, but it doesn't strike me that he is any more authoritative than [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz, or Rice or [Secretary of State Colin] Powell or anybody else. All of them were sort of fishing about for justification for a decision that has already been made," Brown said. Asia Times - 31 March 2004

(Inter Press Service)
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FC31Aa01.html




Israel Has Long Spied on U.S., Say Officials

By Bob Drogin and Greg Miller

The Los Angeles Times - 03 September 2004 - WASHINGTON - Despite its fervent denials, Israel secretly maintains a large and active intelligence-gathering operation in the United States that has long attempted to recruit U.S. officials as spies and to procure classified documents, U.S. government officials said.

FBI and other counterespionage agents, in turn, have covertly followed, bugged and videotaped Israeli diplomats, intelligence officers and others in Washington, New York and elsewhere, the officials said. The FBI routinely watches many diplomats assigned to America.

Officials said FBI surveillance of a senior Israeli diplomat, who was the subject of an FBI inquiry in 1997-98, played a role in the latest probe into possible Israeli spying. The bureau now is investigating whether a Pentagon analyst or pro-Israel lobbyists provided Israel with a highly classified draft policy document. The document advocated support for Iranian dissidents, radio broadcasts into Iran and other efforts aimed at destabilizing the regime in Tehran, officials said this week.

The case is unresolved, but it has highlighted Israel's unique status as an extremely close U.S. ally that presents a dilemma for U.S. counterintelligence officials.

"There is a huge, aggressive, ongoing set of Israeli activities directed against the United States," said a former intelligence official who was familiar with the latest FBI probe and who recently left government. "Anybody who worked in counterintelligence in a professional capacity will tell you the Israelis are among the most aggressive and active countries targeting the United States."

The former official discounted repeated Israeli denials that the country exceeded acceptable limits to obtain information.

"They undertake a wide range of technical operations and human operations," the former official said. "People here as liaison ... aggressively pursue classified intelligence from people. The denials are laughable."

Current and former officials involved with Israel at the White House, CIA, State Department and in Congress had similar appraisals, although not all were as harsh in their assessments. A Bush administration official confirmed that Israel ran intelligence operations against the United States. "I don't know of any foreign government that doesn't do collection in Washington," he said.

Another U.S. official familiar with Israeli intelligence said that Israeli espionage efforts were more subtle than aggressive, and typically involved the use of intermediaries.

But a former senior intelligence official, who focused on Middle East issues, said Israel tried to recruit him as a spy in 1991.

"I had an Israeli intelligence officer pitch me in Washington at the time of the first Gulf War," he said. "I said, 'No, go away,' and reported it to counterintelligence."

The U.S. officials all insisted on anonymity because classified material was involved and because of the political sensitivity of Israeli relations with Washington. Congress has shown little appetite for vigorous investigations of alleged Israeli spying.

In his first public comments on the case, Israel's ambassador, Daniel Ayalon, repeated his government's denials this week. "I can tell you here, very authoritatively, very categorically, Israel does not spy on the United States," Ayalon told CNN. "We do not gather information on our best friend and ally." Ayalon said his government had been "very assured that this thing will just fizzle out. There's nothing there."

In public, Israel contends it halted all spying operations against the United States after 1986, when Jonathan Jay Pollard, a former Navy analyst, was convicted in U.S. federal court and sentenced to life in prison for selling secret military documents to Israel.

U.S. officials say the case was never fully resolved because a damage-assessment team concluded that Israel had at least one more high-level spy at the time, apparently inside the Pentagon, who had provided serial numbers of classified documents for Pollard to retrieve.

The FBI has investigated several incidents of suspected intelligence breaches involving Israel since the Pollard case, including a 1997 case in which the National Security Agency bugged two Israeli intelligence officials in Washington discussing efforts to obtain a sensitive U.S. diplomatic document. Israel denied wrongdoing in that case and all others, and no one has been prosecuted.

But U.S. diplomats, military officers and other officials are routinely warned before going to Israel that local agents are known to slip into homes and hotel rooms of visiting delegations to go through briefcases and to copy computer files.

"Any official American in the intelligence community or in the foreign service gets all these briefings on all the things the Israelis are going to try to do to you," said one U.S. official.

At the same time, experts said relations between the CIA and Israel's chief intelligence agency, the Mossad, were so close that analysts sometimes shared highly classified "code-word" intelligence on sensitive subjects. Tel Aviv routinely informs Washington of the identities of the Mossad station chief and the military intelligence liaison at its embassy in America.

"They probably get 98% of everything they want handed to them on a weekly basis," said the former senior U.S. intelligence officer who has worked closely with Israeli intelligence. "They're very active allies. They're treated the way the British are."

Another former intelligence operative who has worked with Israeli intelligence agreed. "The relationship with Israeli intelligence is as intimate as it gets," he said.

Officials said Israel was acutely interested in U.S. policies and intelligence on the Middle East, especially toward Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

"They are sophisticated enough to want to know where the levers are they can influence, which people in our government are taking which positions they can try to influence," said a former high-ranking CIA official.

But the official said the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, at least in intelligence circles, "is not one of complete trust at all."

The latest counterintelligence investigation began more than two years ago, and initially focused on whether officials from a powerful Washington lobbying group, the American Israel Political Action Committee, passed classified information to Israel, officials said.

Several months later, the FBI conducted surveillance of Naor Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli Embassy, meeting with two AIPAC officials. The arrival of a veteran Iran analyst at the Pentagon, Larry Franklin, sparked a new line of FBI inquiry.

In 1997 and 1998, the FBI had monitored Gilon as part of an investigation into whether Scott Ritter, then a U.S. intelligence official working with U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, was improperly delivering U.S. spy-plane film and other secret material to Israeli intelligence. Gilon was posted in New York at the time and operated as liaison between Israel's Anan, or military intelligence service, and the U.N. teams, several officials said.

"Naor was the focus of FBI surveillance into allegations that I was a mole," said Ritter, who was never charged in the case. "They suspected Naor was working me to gain access to U.S. intelligence, which was absurd."

In an e-mail message this week, Gilon said he was under orders not to talk to the media about the current case. He has denied any wrongdoing in interviews with Israeli newspapers.

Franklin has not responded to requests for comment, and officials said he was cooperating with authorities. The FBI interviewed several AIPAC officials last Friday and copied the contents of a computer hard drive. AIPAC has denied any wrongdoing and said it was cooperating fully with investigators.

In a statement released Thursday, AIPAC said the group's continued access to the White House, senior administration officials and ranking members of Congress during the two-year probe would have been "inconceivable ... if any shred of evidence of disloyalty or even negligence on AIPAC's part" had been discovered.

AIPAC, has especially close ties to the Bush administration. Addressing the group's policy conference on May 18, President Bush praised AIPAC for "serving the cause of America" and for highlighting the nuclear threat from Iran.

Washington and Tel Aviv differ on their assessments of Iran's nuclear weapons development. Israel considers Iran's nuclear ambitions its No. 1 security threat, and the issue is the top priority for AIPAC. The Bush administration takes the Iran nuclear threat seriously, but its intelligence estimates classify the danger as less imminent than do the Israeli assessments.

What mystifies those who know AIPAC is how one of the savviest, best-connected lobbying organizations in Washington has found itself enmeshed in a spy investigation.

Although never previously implicated in a potential espionage case, AIPAC has frequently been a subject of controversy. Its close ties to Israel and its aggressive advocacy of Israeli government positions has drawn criticism that it should be registered as an agent of a foreign country. Others, noting its ability to organize significant backing for or against candidates running for national office, have demanded that it be classified as a political action committee.

So far the group has avoided both classifications, either of which would impose major restrictions on its activities.

Three years ago, Fortune magazine ranked AIPAC fourth on its list of Washington's 25 most powerful lobbying groups - ahead of such organizations as the AFL-CIO and the American Medical Assn.

Times staff writers Mark Mazzetti and Tyler Marshall in Washington contributed to this report.





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