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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Netanyahu's National Security Adviser barred from US as 'intelligence risk'

The Washington Times reports 'exclusively' that Uzi Arad, who is slated to serve as Binyamin Netanyahu's National Security Adviser has been barred from the United States as an 'intelligence risk' for nearly two years. Arad, a former director of the Mossad, is mentioned in the indictment of Lawrence Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst who pleaded guilty in 2005 to providing classified information to two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading lobbyist on Israel's behalf in the United States.
Israeli and U.S. officials said Mr. Arad has been denied a U.S. visa since June 2007 under section 212 3(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This gives consular officers and the Justice Department authority to bar people who may seek "to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage" from entering the country.

Mr. Arad was a member of the Mossad spy service from 1975 to 1997. After retiring, he became Mr. Netanyahu's foreign policy adviser. While in the Mossad, Mr. Arad worked mainly on analysis, but he also served as a liaison for intelligence operations with allied services such as the CIA.

In the past 21 months, prominent Israelis and Americans have quietly but unsuccessfully pressed U.S. officials to grant Mr. Arad a visa.
But Franklin never pleaded guilty to spying.
Indeed, the U.S. attorney handling the case against Mr. Franklin and two former AIPAC employees, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, charged all three men with mishandling national defense information, a count listed in the U.S. code under the Espionage Act but less serious than being an agent of a foreign power. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman are fighting the charges, which are controversial because they are the first private citizens to be accused of leaking classified information.

The indictment against Mr. Franklin makes two references to "a person previously associated with an intelligence agency of [foreign official's] country." Two former U.S. officials and a former Israeli official have confirmed that Mr. Arad is the "person."

The passage refers to a meeting between Mr. Franklin and Mr. Arad on Feb. 20, 2004, at the Pentagon cafeteria and an earlier recommendation by an Israeli diplomat that Mr. Franklin meet with Mr. Arad.
The President of the United States and the Attorney General have the power to waive the restriction. According to the Times, a spokesman for the Netanyahu government says that it expects Arad to be able to travel to the United States.

For those of you who are interested, the Franklin indictment is here. Here are the references to Arad:
11. On or about October 9, 2003, FRANKLIN met with FO-3 at a sandwich shop near the United States Department of State headquarters. The defendant asked FO-3 to provide him with a letter for his daughter, to aid her in her travels to the Middle East and Foreign Nation A.

12. On or about January 15, 2004, FRANKLIN met FO-3 and again asked FO-3 to provide some type of letter for his daughter for her travel to the Middle East, including Foreign Nation A.

3. On or about February 13, 2004 , FRANKLIN met FO-3 at the POAC. At this meeting, FO-3 suggested to the defendant that he should meet with a person previously associated with an intelligence agency of Foreign Nation A who was then running a think tank in Foreign Nation A. FO-3 also gave the defendant a gift card.

14. On or about February 20, 2004, FRANKLIN met in the cafeteria at the Pentagon with this person previously associated with an intelligence agency of Foreign Nation A and discussed a Middle Eastern country's nuclear program.

15. In or about late February 2004, the defendant and FO-3 exchanged telephone calls about certain foreign organizations.

16. On or about May 13, 2004, FO-3 faxed a letter from his embassy office to FRANKLIN's Pentagon fax relating to the defendant's daughter's travel to Foreign Nation A.
Foreign Nation A is Israel and FO-3 is Foreign Official 3, described as a non-US citizen who was attached to the Israeli embassy. The Middle Eastern country whose nuclear program was being discussed could be Iraq, Iran or Libya, but it is apparently Iran. And Arad does head a think tank here.

To be fair, Jeff Stein reported two weeks ago that Arad is barred from entering the United States. Stein describes Arad as a 'hardliner' on Iran.
"Arad is a bona fide hardliner," the foreign policy blog China Matters pronounced in an extensive piece.

"Ex-director of research for the Mossad, head of Israel's most influential right wing think tank, architect and participant in various Israeli back channel initiatives vis-a-vis Syria and Iran, Bibi Netanyahu's brain for security and foreign affairs, and, no doubt background briefer par excellence for journalists hoping to get the real skinny on goings-on in the Middle East."
As for what Israel should do about Iran, Arad argued for "maximum deterrence" during a 2006 panel discussion in Tel Aviv, according to a dispatch from UPI's Joshua Brilliant.

Israel should threaten to strike "everything and anything of value," Arad said, including its leadership and "holiest sites."

"Everything together? Yes, Arad recommended," according to UPI.
As to Rosen and Weissman, they are scheduled to go to trial on May 27. Three days ago, retired attorney Clarice Feldman argued that the case should be dropped in a lengthy article at Pajamas Media.
Two men working for AIPAC met with a government employee (Franklin) who gave them some information orally (which the government claims is properly classified), and they then disseminated this information. This back-channel process of getting information out is one which takes place hundreds of times a week between government officials, news reporters, and lobbyists. Normally, the transfer of information has been authorized by someone above the person conveying it. In this case it was not, although it appears uncontested that the defendants had no way of knowing this was so. In this case, there is a serious question of whether the information was even properly classified. But Rosen or Weissman could not even have known that the information was classified at all because they never received a single document from Franklin.

Moreover, the antiquated Espionage Act under which the men are being prosecuted requires criminal intent on their part, and that seems to be an impossibility. There is no indication that any of the three men wished to, or did in fact harm the national interest in the transmission of this information.


In February, the court ruled that a classification expert whom the defense wished to call would be allowed to testify. On a flimsy pretext, the prosecution tried to prevent the expert from testifying. It appears that he will testify that the information conveyed by Franklin to the defendants was not properly classified. [More on this ruling here. CiJ].


In sum, this case should not have been brought. Why it was brought is most likely a function of incompetence, if not inappropriate animus toward those who lawfully work in the U.S. advancing Israeli concerns. Whether or not that is the case, the Espionage Act is a creaky, antiquated vehicle for bringing such a case and the judge is too smart to allow the Justice Department’s prosecutors to get away with ignoring the clear words of the statute.

Finally, since no one in the Justice Department has the guts to stop this, it probably will continue on to trial in late May. The government will lose, and the burden which will fall on subsequent prosecutions under the Espionage Act is so substantial that in effect we will be without the means to punish those who (unlike Rosen and Weissman) actually do engage in espionage on U.S. soil.
Read the whole thing.

My guess is that if Rosen and Weissman are acquitted (as seems likely if Feldman is correct), the ban against Arad traveling to the United States will be lifted. Netanyahu is probably banking on that. It doesn't seem like an unreasonable risk to take.


At 5:00 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

FWIW, the Washington Post also advocates dropping the case.

I guess they realize that what Franklin, Rosen and Weissman did, is what their reporters do on a regular basis. A welcome bit of intellectual honesty from the WaPo.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hardly surprising in view of the anti-Israel sentiment in certain quarters of the US government. If Uzi Arad was a spy, he's a clumsy one. Its hard to believe anything he did endangered the US.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a policy consistent with rejecting and isolating Israel, and embracing our common enemies.

"bar people who may seek "to violate any law of the United States relating to espionage or sabotage" from entering the country."

Nu! So why are the NYSlimes and half of the Democrat congress still in America? Hmmm?

Zecharia 12...
2. Behold! I am making Jerusalem a cup of weakness for all the peoples around, and also on Judah, [that he] shall be in the siege against Jerusalem.
3. And it shall come to pass on that day that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all peoples; all who bear it shall be gashed, and all the nations of the earth shall gather about it.

Ovadia 1...
4. If you go up high like an eagle, and if you place your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down, says the Lord.

Unless America turns herself around, she's toast.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Butchie! said...

When is Israel going to bar Obama due to a security risk? I think that would be an appropriate response.


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