Israel's Shadow Government in Washington

By Andrew Killgore

Originally published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , February 1987

Israel's takeover of the whole of the Mandate of Palestine has long been treated by the US Government as the inconsequential act of a petty thief. But even the most unflappable American must regard the Israeli progression from penetration to direction of US foreign policy as the work of a master criminal. The Jewish state's successful stalling, for two generations, of serious peace negotiations with the original Palestinian occupants of the lands it stole pales in comparison with its seizure of American foreign policy and defense policy in the Middle East.

It accomplished this by placing its own zealous American or dual-citizen supporters at key choke points in the US bureaucracy. In fact, almost from the beginning of the Reagan administration in 1981, Israel has had in place a shadow government in Washington.

The result is Iranscam, the worst political scandal since Watergate. The worst foreign policy blunder in American history. Crippling ourselves to enable Israel to make massive sales of American weapons to an atavistic terror regime in Iran. Sales for which there is no American tactical, strategic, or moral justification.

Now, although a frantic coverup is underway, the heat may scorch both Israel and its tireless American partisans.

Thirty years ago the Israeli Embassy got whatever secrets it wanted from the hapless Defense and State Departments. Within 24 hours. Even less. Reliable as Federal Express. Stolen by zealous partisans of Israel. Everyone knew about it. No one did anything about it.

Insiders were disturbed at the implications, but rationalizations were made. Holocaust shock. With a new generation the siege mentality would fade. The melting pot would solve things. Documents were overclassified anyway.

Besides, in the Middle East we were respected, even loved, and we were overwhelmingly powerful. If zealots with a separate agenda put a few nicks in our reputation, time would soften the Zionist zealotry and heal the wounds before permanent damage was done. Israel hadn't yet committed so many monstrosities against its Muslim and Christian neighbors. Nor were US-Israeli ties so close that Arab bitterness would rub off on us. Mini-state Israeli spying against superpower American was still inconsequential.

Finally, of course, our lack of concern culminated in a Jonathan Jay Pollard. A real outrage. Not like the 1954 Lavon affair, the recurring Israeli thefts of American uranium, or even the deaths of 34 Americans during the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty. A native-born American with top secret clearance confessed to turning over hundreds of top secret documents to foreign agents because, he proclaimed, he is "a loyal son of Israel." Betrayal of the trust implicit in his US security clearance, for free. But paid by Israel anyway to keep him on the hook.

Joining others—Americans, Israelis, dual citizens—currently accused of stealing krytons to fuse nuclear bombs, the metallurgical secrets of high-tech cannon barrels, and other secrets from an America whose lavish giving hand transformed Israelis into beggars living like royalty.

As the ingrate image emerged, Israel took the offensive with lies by the passel: Pollard's was only a rogue operation. No high-level authorization. Stolen documents would be returned. Israel would cooperate fully with US investigators. The heat was on, but Israelis expected the compliant US public media and government to let them off gently, as usual.

Israel's initiative in the Iran arms selling, however, exceeds even its former role of spymaster. It puts the spotlight on Israel's government of shadows in Washington. Scary, for the United States and for America's Jews.

How sharply the image appears depends upon how clearly Israel's initial role—seducer of a gullible Uncle Sam—is perceived by the American people. It should be clear, however, to anyone who examines Middle Eastern geopolitical imperatives.

Iraq can't break the stalemate and defeat Iran. Too few people against too many. Iran could wear down Iraq, however. The result would place a regime proclaiming relentless hostility to the US in a position to dominate the entire Gulf and its vital oil supplies. No sensible American official, therefore, would advocate helping Iran. For any reason.

So why did American officials take leave of their senses? We could retrieve US hostages held by the Ayatollah Khomeini's followers in Lebanon, Israel importuned. Ridiculous on its face. Khomeini could order the seizure of other hostages to replace those released. That's what happened. Three were let go. Three more were seized. A zero sum game in which Uncle Sam played both knave and fool.

Send arms as a "good faith" gesture to Iranian "moderates," Israel urged. In fact Iranian moderates were in exile, in hiding, in jail or in the cemetery. They weren't in the government. Even if they had been, no one in the White House asked the Israelis how such "moderates" in the government could be helped without being marked for execution by extremists in the same government. Worse, how could US weapons in Khomeini's hands not tip the precarious balance by helping Iran defeat Iraq, a disaster for US policy?

When a superpower pursues policies manifestly not in its own interest, there has to be a rational explanation. In this case, it's obvious. Israel and its friends in the US Government were working secretly for Israeli interests. Working relentlessly, recklessly and irresponsibly against the interests of the United States.

In Washington everyone has long been aware of the Israel Lobby. It's old hat. Centered on Congress, it rents Senators and Representatives with millions in contributions through pro-Israel Political Action Committees. Intimidation against those not 100 percent pro-Israel is notorious, as Senators J. William Fulbright and Charles Percy, and Congressmen Paul Findley and Pete McCloskey can testify. A disproportionately heavy Jewish representation among 20,000 Congressional staffers helps remind incumbents not to stray from the Israeli line.

Governmental or Congressional personalities so obsessed with helping Israel that they are ready to betray their colleagues, employers and even their country are known to Washington insiders as the Israel firsters. Jonathan Jay Pollard is obviously one of these. But he made the mistake of leaving the crowded ranks of volunteers to become a paid spy.

There are journalists who never fail to put an Israeli "spin" on everything they write. Norman Podhoretz and Morton Kondracke come to mind. And George Will reminds us they don't have to be Jewish.

The Iran arms scandal was not carried out by congressional aides or journalists, however. It was made possible by a network of "shadows" at key points in the Executive Branch of the US Government. Who are these barely visible people? How did they get into the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA and "think tanks" concerned with "terrorism" and "security?"

Start with the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). It is a cornerstone of the shadow government. The Alma Mater, ready room and launching pad for "shadows" in key positions.

Incorporated in 1976 in Washington DC, JINSA demonstrates zealous concern for Israeli "security." People associated with it are "Israel 100 percent." While charges were being investigated that former Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide Stephen Bryen was seen offering military secrets to a visiting Israeli Defense official in the coffee shop of the Madison Hotel, he served as JINSA's Executive Director. When Bryen was not indicted, Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle brought him into the Pentagon as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of protecting sensitive American technology. Bryen turned the JINSA position over to his wife, Shoshanna Bryen.

Michael Ledeen, a former consultant to the Department of State who was the first American involved with Israeli proposals to sell arms to gain US access to Iranian officials, was a founding director of JINSA. Michael Ledeen's wife is now secretary to Stephen Bryen in the Pentagon.

Another figure, the extent of whose involvement in the arms for hostages sales never quite emerges, is Howard Teicher. His position as National Security Council Director of Political-Military affairs put him between Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North in the NSC table of organization. Known to White House insiders, because of his prior residence in Israel, as NSC's "first kibbutznik," the shadows around him are so deep that few Americans have heard of him, despite his White House position. He was one of four Americans on the famous flight that brought into Tehran Colonel Robert McFarland, an Israeli-baked cake, and TOW missiles to help turn the war against Iraq.

Abraham Sofaer, State Department General Counsel, is Protean in defense of Israel. He was the federal judge in New York who made Ariel Sharon's loss of a libel suit against Time Magazine look like a victory.

Like a busy bee he flitted between Egypt and Israel during the protracted dispute over a few acres of land at Taba that delayed implementation of peace between the two countries for more than a year. And he made the arrangements for Israeli "cooperation" in the Pollard investigation which have turned out to be a case study in obfuscation and obstruction.

Sofaer now is working with, or against, the Justice Department as it seeks to prosecute eight Israelis charged with attempting to steal highly classified cluster bomb technology from US defense contractors.

Another lawyer involved from time to time with matters of concern to Israel is CIA General Counsel Stanley Sporkin. It was he who drafted a 1985 memorandum for President Reagan's signature seeking to legalize retroactively CIA involvement in previous Israeli arms shipments to Iran, involvement never reported to Congress and which both Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz had opposed.

Reagan Administration corridors contain many such shadows, as they did in the time of Presidents Carter, Ford, Nixon and, especially, Johnson. Although their salaries are paid by Uncle Sam, their efforts somehow encourage, facilitate or justify initiatives which either have been proposed by Israel or clearly serve Israeli objectives.

Not all are paid directly by Uncle Sam. In a lengthy profile of Leonard Garment, White House Counsel and liaison to the Jewish Community in the Nixon Administration, the Washington Post notes that although he cares deeply about Israel he does not choose to spend his time quarreling with Congressmen over issues. Instead, the Post explains, "he puts more value on helping see that the right people are in the right places."

It might be called deploying shadows. Shadows skilled enough to keep the US marching with Israel to fight Israel's battles. Shadows dedicated enough to serve Israeli interests, even when they conflict with those of the United States. Shadows that history will someday bring to light. —Andrew I. Killgore