What if you
had information that foreign government officials, utilizing their
resources in the United States, were plotting to drag America into
a ruinous war, using their connections with key American lawmakers
and the media to get members of Congress and the public on board
– what would you do?
Unless you're either a traitor or a coward, you'd expose the scheme to the light of day – and you'd be a hero, at least in my book. From the perspective of the Obama administration, however, you're a criminal – and the sentence could be severe.
In a secret trial in which not even the judge was allowed to look at the evidence, FBI translator and human rights blogger Shamai Leibowitz, an Israeli-American lawyer, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for the “crime” of exposing Israel's extensive efforts to influence American policymakers to support a strike against Iran.
hired to translate documents for US government agencies monitoring
the Israeli embassy in Washington, was shocked by what he read.
to blogger Richard
Silverstein, who has seen the transcripts:
diplomats] were talking about things that weren't necessarily illegal,
but would be shocking to American people. They target key opinion
shapers and key players in society and use long-term plans to sponsor
conferences, ghost-author op/ed pieces, and jawbone members of Congress.
All together is this image that they really want America to go to
war with Iran, or okay Israel going to war with Iran.”
opinion shapers – with what?
conferences is one thing – but this “targeting” business has more
than a few ominous implications. Are the Israelis going after opinion
shapers and “key players” who might not favor their war agenda –
and, if so, in what way?
the transcripts over to Silverstein, who wrote about them on his
blog: that post has since been deleted, and I can't find it utilizing
Google cache (although it's go to be there
somewhere). Silverstein has since burned the materials given to
him by Leibowitz, out of a quite justifiable fear that he'll be
isn't hard to imagine what was in them: to call Israel's propaganda
campaign in the US aggressive would be an understatement. There
are plenty of “American” organizations that act as unregistered
agents of the Israeli state, and I'm not just talking about AIPAC.
The Israel lobby, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have
shown, is a powerful force in our politics, and this force often
crosses the line that separates propaganda from espionage – the
case of Steve
Rosen, the former AIPAC top honcho busted
[.pdf] for pilfering secret information from the Pentagon's chief
Iran analyst, Larry
Franklin, is just one example. Effective propaganda requires
information, preferably inside information – including highly
classified secrets – which is what Rosen and his AIPAC cohorts
and its American amen
corner have long
been trying to provoke
attack on Iran is hardly
a secret. On the other hand, the lengths to which the Israelis will
go in order to accomplish this goal are deemed so sensitive by our
government that it will go after anyone who tries to reveal it.
That should tell us something.
Yes, the US
spies on everyone,
including its ostensible allies, but this case ought to set off
alarm bells: clearly our spooks are very concerned about what the
Israelis are up to in this country, and have been for quite some
time. Add to this the vindictive nature of Leibowitz's prosecution,
and it's not stretching the truth to say the government is clearly
panicked Israel's covert activities in the US could become public
knowledge. While Silverstein is being extra careful to avoid saying
anything that could motivate the Justice Department to put him away
in a cell next to Leibowitz's, his opinion that the activities described
in the transcripts “weren't necessarily illegal” leaves plenty of
room for interpretation.
I don't blame Silverstein for his reticence. As the Seattle Weekly reports:
“Silverstein isn't currently facing any legal repercussions for posting the documents that Leibowitz gave him. But he says the fact that the Obama administration has no qualms with jailing federal employees for leaking info means that he takes nothing for granted.
that my status as a journalist gives me protection under the First
Amendment,' he says, a tinge of uncertainty creeping into his voice.”
bet it was more than a “tinge.”
triggered the FBI
monitoring and investigation of Antiwar.com, including myself,
was our extensive
coverage of Israeli covert activities in the US, particularly
a number of my columns on the subject. They were so concerned that
a memo from FBI counter-terrorism headquarters in Newark instructs
area offices to conduct a preliminary “investigation” on the grounds
that we represent a “threat to National Security” and are, without
a doubt, “agents of a foreign power.”
Why would my
articles on Israeli spying provoke such an off-the-wall assessment?
After all, here I am trying to expose a threat to national security
– and the FBI considers that to be in itself a threat. So who's
the “agent of a foreign power,” in this case – me, or them?
The FBI apparently
stumbled on our treason when researching how their infamous “terrorist
suspect list” [.pdf], in its several forms, came to be public
knowledge. The answer was easily
discernible to anyone with half a brain: they had given it away
quite freely, including to one Italian bank and a Finnish financial
institution, who promptly posted it online.
I came across it in my research into the activities of one Dominick
Suter, the owner of a New Jersey moving company whose five employees
were arrested on 9/11 under highly
suspicious circumstances. Their demeanor and activities on observing
the World Trade Center fall from a park overlooking the Hudson river
provoked a police response, and they were hauled in for questioning.
Held for months, and harshly interrogated, the five were among over
200 Israelis rounded up, along with thousands
of Arabs, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Suter owned and
operated Urban Movers, Inc., and the name of his company was emblazoned
on the truck the “high fivers” stood on as they reportedly videotaped
the downing of the towers – and seemed to be celebrating. The Forward
later reported that this crew was “almost certainly” an operation
directed by Israeli intelligence, although Israeli and US officials
any case, it was while I was on Suter's internet
trail that I came across the watch list – with Suter's name,
address, and Social Security clearly listed, along with similar
information on his wife, Ornit.
So the FBI
was looking for them, too.
Our counterintelligence guys (and gals!) no doubt have their hands full with the Israelis. Security experts testify that, in the related fields of industrial and other forms of espionage, they're right up there with the Chinese and the Russians. However, one has to wonder if, ten years later, they've managed to find Mr. Suter. Or maybe they aren't looking all that hard.
September 12, 2011
Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.
Copyright © 2011 Antiwar.com