AIPAC is "FAMILY"
Anaud de Borchgrave
AIPAC is "FAMILY"
Sun Sep 12, 2004 10:10
69.6.136.136

This AIPAC spy business is a family affair
Posted: 09/11
From: ME Times

by Arnaud de Borchgrave

Sticking one’s snout in US-Israeli affairs can be injurious to one’s professional health, as the FBI has recently discovered. And this is where it needs a little help.

Understanding the relationship between the US and Israel can be difficult if one thinks of Israel as a foreign country. Think of it as the 51st state, or as an integral part of the American body politic, and it’s no longer spying, or even influence-peddling: it’s family. One family member showing a close relative a secret document, or quoting from it over lunch, is not a prima facie case of spying. Nor can it be called a leak. Anymore than sharing with your brother a rival’s plan to undermine the family business is a leak.

This is the way Washington’s ‘Likudniks’ view their relationship with the family patriarch, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now 74. Sharon is not like any other head of government in the world. He has met nine times with President Bush. He also has close relatives in key command posts in the Pentagon. And he can count on them to derail policies whose linguini backbone would condemn Israel to a short shelf life.

Back in 1996, the same perception led three prominent American Likudniks to write a policy paper for then-Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu titled, “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The “realm” is Israel.

The clean break advocated was with the Oslo peace accords. Israel, they said, should not concede an inch of the West Bank to the Palestinians because it has been sacred Jewish soil from time immemorial; Saddam Hussein was to be removed from power and the Hashemite dynasty (which ruled Iraq until 1958) restored; surrounding Arab autocracies and radical regimes were to be removed and replaced with democracies.

The ‘White Paper’ was sprinkled with references to “We in Israel” and “Our land,” written by US citizens.

Netanyahu’s successor, Sharon, adopted these recommendations by three close members of his family. Their judgment clearly would secure the realm against the machinations of rival Semite families (the Arab families bi-ding their time while plotting to shorten Israel’s shelf life). Israel surrounded by pro-American democracies could look forward to at least a generation’s worth of security. The 1996 document provided the strategic underpinnings for the ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ invasion of Iraq seven years later.

When Bush was elected the 43rd president, these same three Likudniks quickly found their way to key positions in the new administration: Richard Perle became chairman of the Defense Policy Board (DPB), a de facto Pentagon think tank where some 30 prestigious personalities are close friends of the family; Douglas Feith was suddenly propelled to the No. 3 slot as undersecretary of defense for policy; and David Wurmser to principal deputy assistant for national security in Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office.

Feith is in everyone’s doghouse because he stands accused of delusions of adequacy by failing to plan Iraq’s post-war policy or anticipate the widely predicted insurgency. He is also the strategic brain that recommended invading Iraq, not Afghanistan, after 9/11. Because, as he attempted to justify his cunning ploy, we would have caught the enemy by surprise by attacking a country that was not involved in 9/11. Oops, my mistake. The Likudniks argued all along there was a seamless connection between Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Baghdad, and Al Qaeda. This was how Sharon and his American family convinced Bush his war on terror was identical to Israel’s war on terror.

Feith, who has 1,500 people working for him at the Pentagon, was also the Likudnik whose Office of Special Plans cherry-picked and then shaded intelligence to make the case for war on Iraq. At least that is what senior folk at the CIA and even the Defense Intelligence Agency say, albeit off the record.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq made the family’s view a self-fulfilling prophecy, and Iraq is now a global magnet for wannabe Islamist terrorists. This sealed Sharon’s seamless argument.

So what is the FBI to make of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee? Arguably the most powerful lobby in Washington, it used to be a support group for whatever Israeli government was in power. The perception in recent times is that its members are now part of the Likud family. In any event, they are trusted intermediaries, and discussions about drafts of Bush administration positions on Iran or anywhere else in the geopolitical neighborhood are not considered secret even when rubber-stamped “Top Secret.” After all, some 3,000 civil servants have the right to stamp documents any way they want. So the most secret stamp simply makes the document juicier for restaurant conversations.

As the FBI has already discovered, getting involved in Likud family affairs can be professionally damaging. Witness the pressure already encountered from US Attorney Paul J. McNulty whose Northern Virginia jurisdiction handles major spy cases in Washington. The family presumably organized the leak that punctured the FBI’s balloon as it was investigating Lawrence A. Franklin, a mid-level official who had served twice as a reserve air force colonel in the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

Franklin is a Farsi-speaking Likudnik whose luncheon conversation with the Israeli embassy’s deputy chief of mission whetted the FBI’s investigative appetite. But the FBI doesn’t seem to understand the difference between Jonathan Pollard, now in his 17th year of a life sentence for espionage, who stole secret documents by the briefcase-load for his Mossad handlers, and Franklin, a member of the Likud family in the Pentagon, who had no secrets from his extended family in Israel. After all, this has been standard operating practice for almost 60 years.

P.S. For the FBI: All Likudniks are neocons, but not all neocons are Likudniks. It would be the better part of valor to give them a wide berth.

- Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at United Press International



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