US spied on Israeli embassy in Washington; Ex-pat Jewish Israeli gave classified info on Israel to Jewish anti-Semitic bloggerIn an earlier post, I mentioned that the Drudge Report had reported about US spying on the Israeli embassy in Washington. I reported that Israel has long suspected that the US spies on its Washington embassy, a fact that was confirmed by the New York Times on Tuesday morning.
While treated as highly classified by the F.B.I., the fact that the United States spies on Israel is taken for granted by experts on intelligence. “We started spying on Israel even before the state of Israel was formally founded in 1948, and Israel has always spied on us,” said Mr. Aid, the author. “Israeli intercepts have always been one of the most sensitive categories,” designated with the code word Gamma to indicate their protected status, he said.But that's not all that the Times confirmed. The Times has confirmed that Shamai Leibowitz, a contract translator for the CIA, took transcripts of wiretaps of the Israeli embassy and turned them over to Jewish anti-Semitic blogger Richard Silverstein. Leibowitz's conviction for turning over classified information was widely reported at the time, but the name of the recipient had not been disclosed until now (and the recipient had been misidentified at the time). Leibowitz is the grandson of Rabbi Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a prominent Torah scholar who became an extreme Leftist and referred to the IDF as 'Judeo-Nazis.'
Shamai Leibowitz himself was originally an Israeli lawyer who defended ISM 'activists' from deportation. Eventually Leibowitz emigrated to the United States, but he remains a dual citizen.
While the main headline in the Israeli media on Tuesday morning is the fact that the US spied on Israel, most of the Times' story is an interview with Silverstein, who has to be one of the most arrogant SOB's I have ever read in print.
Mr. Silverstein’s account could not be fully corroborated, but it fits the publicly known facts about the case. Spokesmen for the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the Israeli Embassy declined to comment on either eavesdropping on the embassy or Mr. Leibowitz’s crime. He admitted disclosing “classified information concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States,” standard language for the interception of phone calls, e-mails and other messages by the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency, which generally focuses on international communications.And by the way, someone in the US Attorney's office in Seattle ought to be looking into prosecuting Silverstein for destroying evidence.
Mr. Silverstein, 59, writes a blog called Tikun Olam, named after a Hebrew phrase that he said means “repairing the world.” The blog gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations [I won't link Silverstein because I don't want to give him any more traffic, but 'liberal perspective' is an understatement. CiJ]. He said he had decided to speak out to make clear that Mr. Leibowitz, though charged under the Espionage Act, was acting out of noble motives [This what prompted me to call Silverstein an arrogant SOB. Who the heck does he think he is? CiJ]. The Espionage Act has been used by the Justice Department in nearly all prosecutions of government employees for disclosing classified information to the news media, including the record-setting five such cases under President Obama.
Mr. Silverstein said he got to know Mr. Leibowitz, a lawyer with a history of political activism, after noticing that he, too, had a liberal-minded blog, called Pursuing Justice. The men shared a concern about repercussions from a possible Israeli airstrike on nuclear facilities in Iran. From his F.B.I. work from January to August of 2009, Mr. Leibowitz also believed that Israeli diplomats’ efforts to influence Congress and shape American public opinion were excessive and improper, Mr. Silverstein said. [And yet, Silverstein admits later in the interview that nothing Israel did goes beyond ordinary lobbying. But even if it did, who were Leibowitz and Silverstein to be the arbiters of that? Where do they come off replacing the Israeli government's judgment with their judgment - from Silver Spring and Seattle - as to what Israel's security requires? CiJ]
“I see him as an American patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context,” Mr. Silverstein said. “What really concerned Shamai at the time was the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, which he thought would be damaging to both Israel and the United States.” [Again, who are they to decide that? Who placed them in charge? CiJ]
Mr. Silverstein took the blog posts he had written based on Mr. Leibowitz’s material off his site after the criminal investigation two years ago. [And the Times couldn't find them in the Way Back Machine? We'll have to work on that... CiJ] But he was able to retrieve three posts from April 2009 from his computer and provided them to The New York Times.
The blog posts make no reference to eavesdropping, but describe information from “a confidential source,” wording Mr. Silverstein said was his attempt to disguise the material’s origin.
One post reports that the Israeli Embassy provided “regular written briefings” on Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza to President Obama in the weeks between his election and inauguration [Well, no kidding. It's no secret here that Cast Lead was ended at Obama's 'request' before his inauguration. CiJ]. Another describes calls involving Israeli officials in Jerusalem, Chicago and Washington to discuss the views of members of Congress on Israel. A third describes a call between an unnamed Jewish activist in Minnesota and the Israeli Embassy about an embassy official’s meeting with Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, who was planning an official trip to Gaza.
Mr. Silverstein said he remembered that embassy officials talked about drafting opinion articles to be published under the names of American supporters. He said the transcripts also included a three-way conversation between a congressman from Texas, an American supporter of the congressman and an embassy official; Mr. Silverstein said he could not recall any of the names.
At his sentencing, Mr. Leibowitz described what he had done as “a one-time mistake that happened to me when I worked at the F.B.I. and saw things which I considered were violation of the law, and I should not have told a reporter about it.” [One-time mistake? Given all those blog posts, it sounds like a many times mistake. CiJ]
That was a reference to Israeli diplomats’ attempts to influence Congress, Mr. Silverstein said, though nothing Mr. Leibowitz described to him appeared to be beyond the bounds of ordinary lobbying.
He said he had burned the secret documents in his Seattle backyard after Mr. Leibowitz came under investigation in mid-2009, but he recalled that there were about 200 pages of verbatim records of telephone calls and what seemed to be embassy conversations. He said that in one transcript, Israeli officials discussed their worry that their exchanges might be monitored.Sounds like destruction of evidence to me.
For those of you who read my quips in the middle of the Times article, it should be clear that I believe that Leibowitz and Silverstein are arrogant people who have - like so many Leftists do - taken upon themselves to decide that they know better than anyone, including elected governments, what is in the best interests of a country and a people. They are vile, disgusting individuals (and yes, I know it's the Jewish month of Elul, but that does not prohibit pointing out evildoers in the hopes of preventing others from falling under their influence).
What should the State of Israel do about this? It should do two things. First, it should point out to the Obama administration that while Leibowitz is going free in a few months (his plea bargain was kept and he is only serving 20 months in jail, far less than he deserves), Jonathan Pollard continues to languish in an American jail with a life sentence. The injustice screams to Heaven.
Second, contrary to popular perception, the State of Israel can ban both Americans and Jews from entering its borders. Leibowitz and Silverstein should never set foot in this country again.